Yankee Classic: Ghost Town
When the good man had asked the Indian why it was that his church never had been the object of a visitation, he is said to have declared that the Great Spirits had directed that this was a bond to prove to the white man that even as the Indians had honored the
sacred place of the intruder, they expected the white man to do likewise — and depart.At these words a great silence hung over the gathering, until certain individuals, bolder than the rest, began to scoff at the story, saying that the pastor was “just entering his second childhood,” and maintaining that all tales of spirits and Great Black Hands were the work of prattling old women.
Folks returned to their homes, and after a day or two of hushed discussions and placing of the family Bibles in the positions deemed to give the most protection against witches and other supernatural visitations,
the whole matter was promptly forgotten.
For a while there were no repetitions of the earlier misfortunes. The miners returned to their work in the pits, and housewives busied themselves with keeping their homes clean and putting up vegetables and preserves against the coming winter. The youngsters played in the village streets as usual and attended the Saturday and Sunday schools conducted by the old minister. Allwere lulled into a false sense of security.
And then …
It was late in August of that year. The diggings at the mines were just beginning to produce on a paying basis. About four o’clock on a sultry afternoon the sky became overcast. The sun’s rays which filtered down through the trees were of an eerie orange color. The slight breeze which had been fanning the tree tops suddenly ceased.
The orange hue deepened to a reddish vapor as though a Gargantuan shaker were pouring paprika down from the mountain top. At the mines a mile away the workers hastened to collect their implements and return home, but the sand banks which bordered the copper pits started to slide down. Ton after ton of sand and stones must have engulfed the poor wretches, leaving them not even the relief of an outcry. There were sixty-one miners in all.
As this catastrophe was enveloping the little group at the quarry, there appeared upon the eastern horizon a tiny speck of a cloud, black and sinister. It increased in size until it resembled a patch of soot pouring through the notch in the ridge of the mountain. As it passed to the river’s edge it grew larger and larger and the uneven, serrated borders which it had exhibited took on the semblance of fingers; long tentacle-like digits which spread from one end of town to the other; from east to west and from north to south it poured down on the settlement and its inhabitants.
Then as suddenly as it had appeared it was gone. A brisk breeze sprang up and the air cleared with that brilliant intensity which follows a summer thunderstorm. But this time it was not the roofs of the houses that were missing — it was the inhabitants themselves. Among all those dwellings marked by this scaring hand, it was the little church alone which remained unscathed — as you may still see it to this day.
No explanation has ever been advanced. No one has ever been found who survived that red day in August more than one hundred years ago. The buildings still stand, to be sure, some leaning, awry and bat-infested, but no new tenants seek them out. The depressions which mark the mines in the nearby hills are still there to be excavated by those who pooh-pooh the legends.