Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Holiday Greetings and Shameless Advertising

First off, Happy Holidays to all, both the living and the dead, may your season be joyous and bright!

Stolen from Facebook...
It is Christmas morning and Santa has visited in the night. One of my gifts came from Q&W Publishers, a recently established publisher that is dedicated to "fine quaint & weird fiction and non-fiction...with an emphasis on speculative and American Southern topics." The book they sent is an anthology, The Old Weird South, featuring a selection of 24 fiction and non-fiction stories and edited by Tim Westover.

Earlier this year, Courtney Mroch of the wonderful haunted travel blog, Haunt Jaunts, sent me a note regarding submissions for this anthology. After a few weeks of consideration as to what to write about, I created a piece based on the Great Locomotive Chase and the ghosts associated with the locations along the old Western & Atlantic Railroad here in Georgia. Though I threw together the piece at the last minute and didn't consider it to be very good, I was surprised to see it selected for inclusion in the anthology. While the stories in it are mostly fiction, my piece is non-fiction and quite similar to the pieces I usually write for this blog.

The book is an excellent look at the wide array of storytelling traditions that exist in and about the South. I would highly recommend it to my readers. It can be purchased from Amazon.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Resurrection—Salem-Shotwell Covered Bridge (Photos)

Salem-Shotwell Covered Bridge
Opelika Municipal Park
Park Road
Opelika, Alabama

Things looked bleak for the Salem-Shotwell Covered Bridge on June 5, 2005. Early that morning, a tree had fallen on part of this 105 year old bridge. The damage was so severe that the entire bridge collapsed into Wacoochee Creek. Located in rural Lee County, Alabama, near the community of Salem, it appeared that this was the end for this last remaining covered bridge in the county. It was one of eleven covered bridges remaining in the state.

The Salem-Shotwell Bridge in its new location in Opelika Municipal
Park. Photo 2012, by Lewis Powell IV, all rights reserved.
Concerned citizens in the area soon began to salvage the parts of the bridge and placed them in storage. Later on that year, ownership of the remains of the bridge were officially transferred to the City of Opelika who, with the help of the local Kiwanis Club and historical organizations, began a reconstruction of the bridge over Rocky Creek in Opelika Municipal Park. The bridge reopened to fanfare in 2007.

For years before it’s destruction and subsequent reconstruction, stories were told about this lonely bridge. Some of the first stories, according to Faith Serafin, Michelle Smith and Mark Poe in their recent book Haunted Auburn and Opelika, were told of Native American spirits reaching up from the waters of Wacoochee Creek towards unwary travelers crossing the bridge at night. Like so many lonely bridges, this bridge acquired a reputation for other spirits over time. (see my recent entry on Cry Baby Hollow in North Alabama)

The bridge was constructed using wooden pegs,
many of which were reused when the bridge was
reconstructed. Photo 2012, by Lewis Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
Supposedly in the 1960s, a young woman was either strangled or hung herself on the bridge. One story involves the young woman asking a young man to meet her at the bridge for a late night tryst. When the young man didn’t show up, the young woman hung herself.

The death of another woman in a fatal car accident added yet another spirit to the bridge. In this tale a young woman is driving along the country road towards the bridge in a rain storm. As she rounded the curve in the road towards the bridge, the car skidded on the slick road and crashed into the turbulent, storm-riled waters below. Her spirit is said to drift along the stream banks accompanied by the smell of burning flesh.

The reconstruction only rebuilt 43 feet of the original
76 feet of the bridges length. Photo 2012, by Lewis Powell, IV.
All rights reserved.
Yet one more accident added a spirit to the bridge: that of a young boy. His pitiful spirit often attracted ghost hunters and curious legend trippers who would leave small toys and gifts behind for the child. It is possibly his spirit who has accompanied the bridge to its new location. The authors of Haunted Auburn and Opelika speak of children playing near the reconstructed bridge playing with a young boy that only they can see.

Salem-Shotwell Covered Bridge. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed
     3 December 2012.
Serafin, Faith; Michelle Smith and Mark Poe. Haunted Auburn and Opelika.
     Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.