Haunted Appalachia: A holiday haunting: Holly River Snow Spirit
We lit the candles in the old cabin window and sat back down to see if it would happen again. This was the second time that we had ventured into the old house by Holly River and just as the time before, we felt it had some secrets. Locally the folks talked of a ghostly image seen near Christmas time. Our timing was perfect as the holiday was just a few days away.
Legend says that the middle-aged woman was married and lived with several small children and a husband in the tiny ramshackle of a cabin. They were all gathered around the warm hearth that cold December evening. She had mentioned to her husband earlier that evening that she wanted to walk out to the barn to check on the livestock as a beloved dairy cow had been having some issues. The tale relates that she lost her way back to her home due to the whiteouts brought on by the sudden blizzard that evening. Her husband tried in vain to find her after she was gone nearly an hour. He could not see in the blizzard and as soon as first light fell the next day, he ventured out to find his wife. As he walked the path near the frozen pines, he saw slight imprints in the snow. He followed them and made his way back into a small cove of frozen fir trees. There.seated upon a small dead tree stump was his wife. She was leaning over her knees with her woolen cape wrapped tightly around her small body. Miracle of all miracles, she was breathing, barely breathing, but she was somehow still alive!
Her husband was overjoyed as he carried her back to their home. After he settled his wife into bed with some hot broth, he dropped down on his knees and thanked God for saving her. It was then that she whispered to him that she was going to be leaving soon. The husband thought she was a bit mad from her ordeal and whispered to her that she was going to be fine. She held his face in her hands and asked that candles be placed in all of the windows so that she would never lose her way again. He thought this the incoherent ramblings of a sick woman but agreed and placed the homemade beeswax candles into every window. When he went back to check on her and to tell her that he had complied with her wish, he could see she was very still and white. It was then that he discovered she had slipped away.
This sad legend had been handed down for many decades and as I told it again to my friends who sat with me in the old cabin, I shared that many people had ventured back to the cabin to see if they could catch a glimpse of her ghostly image. Folks said she walked between the veils of the world when the moon was full every December and that candles lit and placed in the windows would flicker brightly and then snuff out suddenly. That night, I placed my own candles in the windows and we waited. Just as the story said, each candle flickered brightly then went out as if blown by some unseen force. We raced to the door and looked out upon the moonlit landscape and in the distance, we saw a small shadowy form making its way down the path. We knew without question that we had seen her walk her eternal walk.
The old cabin still stands by Holly River but is in great disrepair. “No Trespassing” signs are posted as the new owners are aware of the old legend and want no late night visitors to their property. I wonder about the woman spirit and why she still walks the path. I guess we will never know the answer.