Revisiting the Angel Oak

This is the fourth entry of my Encounter Countdown to Halloween. There are only 27 more days until All Hallows Eve!

Angel Oak Park
3699 Angel Oak Road
John’s Island, South Carolina

A long dirt road leads away from sprawl of Charleston to a quiet place of natural repose surrounding the Angel Oak. It had already been a long day for myself and my partner when we arrived about twenty minutes before the park closed for the day. There were still crowds of visitors milling about, taking pictures, and lolling under the massive oak.

Since my first visit in 2011, after which I wrote this blog entry, little has changed with the oak itself, though the insistent signage discouraging people from climbing or damaging the oak has multiped. The tree’s gargantuan trunk is now surrounded by a rope so that it almost appears to be a museum exhibit. Perhaps the crowds of tourists arriving just before closing time detracted from the park, but the place seemed to be missing the sacred feeling I felt on my first visit.

Angel Oak John's Island South Carolina
The massive Angel Oak, during a recent October day. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

This was my partner’s first visit, and he did get a feeling of awe in the presence of the wondrous tree. We have discovered, he is sensitive to paranormal. While I may occasionally pick up changes in the energy in some places, I generally don’t pick up on much at all. My partner, however, is quite sensitive to these changes. He can feel them in the form of a sense of uneasiness, or sometimes he might be nauseated or perhaps he might feel a headache coming on.

At the Angel Oak, he said he felt a sense of pressure, nearly to the point of having a headache and also nausea. As we wandered under the branches, he continued to complain of these feelings. We didn’t stay long and as we walked back to the car, the feelings lifted. While there may be a rational explanation for these feelings, it is curious that he only felt them under the tree’s wide canopy.

For more background on the Angel Oak, see my 2011 entry.

Angel Oak John's Island South Carolina
Posing with the oak, I promise you, I’m trying to smile. Photo by Lewis O. Powell IV, all rights reserved.

A cupola seaman—Louisville, Kentucky

This is the third entry of my Encounter Countdown to Halloween. There are only 28 more days until All Hallows Eve!

United States Marine Hospital
2215 Portland Avenue
Louisville, Kentucky

There’s something quite jaunty about the cupola atop the old U.S. Marine Hospital in Louisville. The rest of the building is stately and noble and almost bows to travelers as they cross the Ohio river into Kentucky; perhaps it’s a gracious bow of warm Southern welcome. But the little cupola adds a certain joyful flair to this staid structure, almost like a hotel bellman’s pillbox cap.

US Marine Hospital Louisville Kentucky ghosts haunted
The U.S. Marine Hospital with its jaunty cupola, 2007. Photograph by Censusdata, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Travelers have been passing this spot for nearly two centuries and they have been greeted by this landmark. Almost a hundred years ago, the Dixie Highway was routed across the steel lace of the Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge from New Albany, Indiana into the bustle of Louisville’s Portland neighborhood. Automobile traffic over the Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge ceased in 1979 and rerouted to Interstate-64 and its nearby concrete bridge. The interstate rushes past the sober hospital with its jolly cupola at Exit 3 as it hurries towards the spaghetti bowl interchange with I-65 and I-71.

Built by the Federal government to provide healthcare to boatmen operating on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and Great Lakes. This hospital was situated here on the Ohio River, for the “beneficial effect of a view of the water, and the impressions and associations it would naturally awake in the minds of men whose occupation were so intimately connected with it.” After the decline of the Marine Health Service in the late 19th century, the facility continued to operate as a hospital and later as quarters for medical professionals until 1975.

The now ancient building saw a multi-million-dollar restoration of its exterior some years ago, though the interior remains unusable, except for a few ground-floor rooms. Efforts to restore the entire structure have yet to succeed.

During the restoration in 2004, a painter working inside heard someone whistling down one of the hallways. When the painter realized that he was alone in the building he grew more curious. A few days later he was working with another painter and the two decided to take a smoke break on one of the building’s galleries. As they walked into the unrestored portion of the building, painter’s co-worker accused him of staring at him and making him uncomfortable. The painter denied that he was staring at him and said he was only concentrating on his work.

“So, we stepped out onto the gallery and lit up our cigarettes, and it just weird all of a sudden. The hair stood up on our necks and the whole place just felt all staticky and like it was charged with energy or something. It got real cold, too, just like an icy wind blew in, and when that happened, my buddy just sort of looked at me as if to ask what was going on.”

The two men were standing facing one another, the painter standing against the railing his back to the railing, while his co-worker was looking out towards the river. Suddenly, the co-worker appeared to see something, and his eyes got big. When the painter turned to see what his companion was looking at, there was a man standing next to him.

Staring at the man in disbelief, the pair was aghast when he simply vanished before their eyes. “He just sort of appeared for a moment or two, and then he was gone. It was almost like we were seeing an old-fashioned picture.” The painter described the man as appearing like “an old-time sailor.” He was wearing “tight, striped pants and a short jacket and a straw hat.”

George Caleb Bingham Jolly Flatboatmen in Port 1857
George Caleb Bingham’s “Jolly Flatboatmen in Port,” 1857. Dating to the period when the Marine Hospital opened, it depicts men who might have been patients here. The description of the seaman seen by the two painters resembles some of the men in this work. This painting hangs in the St, Louis Museum of Art.

After the spectral vision vanished, the co-worker fled back inside the building and refused to talk about what had just happened. The painter, however, told his story to Louisville author and tour guide David Domine, who included it in his 2006 Phantoms of Old Louisville. Hopefully, this magnificent building with the jaunty cupola can be fully restored as old mariners continue “blurring the fine line between the Here and Now and the There and Then.”

Sources

  • Brooks, Carolyn. National Historic Landmark Nomination Form for the United States Marine Hospital, Louisville, Kentucky. 15 March 1994.
  • Domine, David. Phantoms of Old Louisville: Ghostly Tales from America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood. Kuttawa, KY: McClanahan Publishing, 2006.
  • United States Marine Hospital of Louisville. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 3 October 2019.

“What dreams may come”—Waverly Hall, Georgia

This is the second entry of my Encounter Countdown to Halloween. There are only 29 more days until All Hallows Eve!

Waverly Hall Cemetery
GA-209

After graduating from college in 2003, I ended up getting an apartment with my best friend, David, in Columbus, Georgia. He was still in school and was very interested in ghosts and ghost hunting. With some of his college friends, David often went on late night jaunts to haunted places. Had I not had a day job, I would have joined them.

One night he and his friends decided to explore the cemetery in the small town of Waverly Hall, about 30 minutes away. This old, Harris County town boasts a few haunted places, but the town’s 1829 cemetery could be considered the crown jewel.

Crook Monument Waverly Hall Cemetery ghosts haunted
The Crook Monument erected for Maj. Osborne Crook, d. 15 October 1851 and his wife, Elizabeth C. Crook, d. 25 October 183[?]9. Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.
Arriving at the cemetery they saw some shadowy figures flitting among the tombstone. They proceeded to try capturing some voices on an audio recorder.

One of those present posed the question, “Do you know that you are dead?”

The recorder picked up a clear response whispering, “Not dead—dreaming.”

As a theatre person, after hearing that response I immediately recalled the immortal words of Shakespeare, To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.

Jim Miles’ 2006 Weird Georgia describes the cemetery as one of the most haunted in the state and includes two accounts from paranormal investigators who captured evidence here. Many of the details in these accounts back up my friend’s story. One account makes mention of a group who visited the cemetery on several occasions. On the first visit they witnessed a number of orbs that “danced and darted” around them. On the second visit, one of the group members had a figure walk right in front of them.

Lowe Monument
The Lowe Monument, erected for General Henry H. Lowe, d. 8 July 1854 and his wife Mariah H. Lowe, d. 27 November 1852. Photo 2011, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.

I was caught by surprise by a black figure that walked right in front of me. It walked rapidly, swinging its arms at its side, as if angry and in a hurry. It was clearly defined and male, about six feet two inches. It had a top hat on. I could see no face of specific features.

The second account in the book notes that the group captured “forty-three fantastic EVPs.” While many of them urged the investigators to leave, one voice attempted to lead them his grave. Perhaps one resident of Waverly Hall Cemetery does want some company in their eternal dreams?

Sources

  • Miles, Jim. Weird Georgia: Your Travel Guide to Georgia’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. NYC: Sterling Publishing, 2006.
  • Powell IV, Lewis O. “Henry McCauley’s Hands—Waverly Hall.” The Southern Taphophile. 18 August 2011.

‘He said we could descend’—Bluemont, Virginia

This is the first entry of my Encounter Countdown to Halloween. There are only 30 more days until All Hallows Eve! 

TWA Flight 514 Crash Site Memorial
VA-601
Bluemont, Virginia

Early on a chilly morning in 2004, a long-haul trucker pulled into a closed gas station near the intersection of VA-7 and VA-601 to check his map. It was extremely dark in this rural, mountainous area, though close to the bustle of cities like Winchester, Leesburg, and suburban Washington, D.C.

He was startled by a knock on the door of his cab, turned on the interior light, and rolled down his window. Staring into the dark, chilly morning, he saw a man standing next to his truck oddly wearing an airline uniform.

The man climbed up onto the side of the truck and asked if the trucker could give him a lift. The trucker noticed the TWA insignia on the man’s cap and the four stripes of a captain on the shoulder of his short-sleeved shirt. The man also reeked of kerosene.

“I am with TWA. I have to get to Dulles Airport to work a flight. Please give me a ride. I’ll pay you.”

“Well, how about I give you a ride to the next open store where you can call a taxi?” the trucker responded.

“Okay, thank you.” the captain muttered awkwardly. “He said we could descend.”

The trucker invited him to get in and the captain jumped down off the side of the truck.

As he walked around the front, the captain suddenly vanished. Shaken, the trucker got out of his cab to investigate, even looking under the truck with a flashlight. The captain was nowhere to be seen.

Agitated, the trucker continued his lonely route home pondering his strange encounter, made especially strange when he realized that TWA had gone bankrupt just two years prior. A little research revealed that his experience had occurred a short distance from the crash site of TWA Flight 514 in 1974.

The trucker recounted his story on the Your Ghost Stories website where it was picked up by the late L.B. Taylor, Jr. and included in his 2010 Big Book of Virginia Ghost Stories.

TWA Flight 514 crash site Virginia
TWA Flight 514 crashed around this rocky outcropping on VA-601. A small memorial is now located here. Taken in March 2017 by Engelalber, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The crash site today, along a wooded stretch of VA-601 on the flanks of Mount Weather, is marked by a small memorial stone set upon a rocky outcropping. It was at this site on the morning of December 1, 1974, the TWA Boeing 727 with 92 souls aboard slammed into this mountain on their descent into Dulles Airport. Miscommunication between the pilot and air traffic control led the plane to shear off the tops of trees before it disintegrated.

TWA Flight 514 crash site Virginia
The TWA Flight 514 crash site in December of 1975, a year after the crash. These trees were sheared off by the low-flying plane. Photo by C. Brown, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Ghost stories concerning the crash site have circulated for some time receiving attention from the nearby Queen City Cryptic Researchers who checked out the site in October of 2018. According to their case file, the group witnessed lights in the woods around the crash site as well as a hearing voices. They also noted feeling a powerful energy there.

Sources

  • Dead Pilot?Your Ghost Stories. 5 May 2007.
  • Rogers, Dawn. “Case File—TWA Flight 514 Crash Site.” Queen City Cryptic Researchers. 22 October 2018.
  • Taylor, L.B. Jr. The Big Book of Virginia Ghost Stories. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2010.
  • TWA Flight 514. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 1 October 2019.