West Virginia Route 901
Near Spring Mills Plantation
Berkeley County, West Virginia
In the recent past a couple was driving Route 901 near Spring Mills Plantation late one evening in October. Near Harlan Run the couple entered a bank of fog and the interior of the car became quite cold. The fog began to take on a greenish hue and suddenly, the car came to a stop; the engine went dead and the headlights shut off. The couple was left in cold, silent darkness.
From out of the darkness the couple was stunned to see the form of a bedraggled Confederate soldier appear. He held his back as if he’d been wounded and he appeared to notice the couple as he neared the front of their car. With a thump he laid his hands on the hood and peered pleadingly before collapsing leaving bloody handprints on the car. The husband opened his door and walked to the front of the car to help the pathetic figure who now lay prone in the roadway. When he reached out to the poor soldier the figure disappeared along with the bloody handprints. The couple quickly left vowing never to drive that stretch of road in the dark.
So far I’ve found this story repeated, with some different details, in two sources. There also seems to be some argument as to the exact location of this incident. Walter Gavenda and Michael T. Shoemaker in their 2001 A Guide to Haunted West Virginia provide the most exact location, on Route 901 just over Harlan Run near Spring Mills Plantation. Patty A. Wilson’s 2007 Haunted West Virginia places the story on Route 11, which is described as the “Highway of Bones” due to the many deaths along its run during the Civil War. Gavenda and Shoemaker also state that a noted West Virginia folklorist has recorded a handful of similar stories from this location. This area was certainly the scene of activity during the Civil War.
The area around Harlan Run is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Spring Mills Historic District. This district is comprised of seven different structures including a late 18th century mill, a few houses, Falling Waters Presbyterian Church and its cemetery. Together these buildings remain as an example of a small rural hamlet in the early 19th century. Indeed, they may have also played a part in the conflicts in the region during the Civil War.
According to the National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the historic district, the area did not see any actual fighting, though it may have been used frequently for encampments with the nearby Dr. Hammond House serving as headquarters for a few generals on both sides. Still, this does not explain the frightening apparition in the road, but it does make for a wonderful story. Nor is this the first roadside revenant in the region. These type stories are found associated with many of West Virginia’s winding mountain roads and extending throughout the rural South.
- Gavenda, Walter and Michael T. Shoemaker. A Guide to Haunted West Virginia. Glen Ferris, WV: Peter’s Creek Publishing, 2001.
- Taylor, David L. National Register of Historic Places form for the Spring Mills Historic District. October 2003.
- Wilson, Patty A. Haunted West Virginia: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Mountain State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2007.