Folklore Ghost Stories Heritage

The Devil’s Tramping Ground

Devil's Tramping Ground

Near Siler City, NC is a large circle that measures 40 feet across. No vegetation of any kind grows within the circle. Early white settlers who came to the area thought the circle was used for Indian Ceremonies. Somewhere along the way the story of the Devil’s Tramping Ground was born.

Legend tells the circle was made by none other than Lucifer himself. Each night the Devil paces the circle while he plots evil deeds to spread across the land. If an object is placed within the circle it is mysteriously moved by morning. Local hunters say their hounds refuse to go near the circle-as do horse owners. The area seems to be void of any animal life-even birds refuse to fly above the circle.

Appalachia is full of scary stories about ghosts, witches, painters, hainted houses, etc., yet religion is woven so tightly through the history and culture of Appalachia-that the Devil plays a significant role in the fear factor too. When I was growing up-I was much more afraid of the Devil getting me than a ghost or a monster.

One time-a childhood friend of mine decided she’d heard enough about the Devil and wanted to see what he really looked like. Her and a cousin decided they’d just dig him up-after digging a while they unearthed something they took for his hair. Once they hit hair their bravery left them pretty quick. As kids will do-they decided to fix the mess they’d made-I mean how could they face their southern Baptist parents after digging the Devil out. They found some old concrete mixed it with water and poured it in the hole, all the while hoping fervently that it would hold him tight.

What were you most afraid of as a child?


p.s. The photo was provided by Old Rebel you can see some of his other photos here.


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  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    October 11, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    I love scary things! I was scared of lots of things as a kid, but I can’t think of anything specific.

  • Reply
    October 11, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    If my grandmother didn’t want me to go outside or to stay in sight, she would tell me that the “KittyWampus” would get me. I never saw it but it could fly, had fangs and ate little boys.

  • Reply
    October 11, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    I admire those kids for taking on the Devil in such a direct way!
    As a child I was afraid of Lizzie Borden. I had seen the movie and heard the story and I was sure she was still stalking the earth as an angry ghost.

  • Reply
    October 11, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    I was afraid of the ghosts, vampires, and longhorn cattle that haunted my dreams!! My dreams are very, VERY realistic and I’d wake up with my heart pounding, in a sweat! Once though, and this really did happen, I woke up with the feeling something was watching me. I turned over slowly and there was a huge, floating moose trophy head in the corner of my bedroom!! I bolted for my parents’ room and slept on their floor! That was the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to me in my life(and I’m almost 42).

  • Reply
    Cristine Green
    October 11, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I love your site, it is very interesting! I camped in the Smoky Mountains with the kids several years ago. What a beautiful place! Especially when the azaleas are in bloom! I don’t know what part of the mountains you are in but I remember touring Cades Cove in Tennessee and loved all the old cabins and the views were spectacular!
    About fears–I would rather have a thousand spiders on me than one stinkin’ roach!!!!
    You are probably wondering about my blog name Mommy’s Midwest Mountain and thinking, what? Mountains in Missouri? Actually I am in a very hilly area south of St. Louis which are considered to be the foothills to the Ozark Mountains (nothing like the Appalachians) and my home is on one of the tallest hills in this area.

  • Reply
    October 11, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Wow! I wonder why birds and animals avoid the area. Could it be an old burial ground? Love the legend though. I bet your friend and their cousin were scared to death after they found what they thought was hair. LOL
    I didn’t have too many fears as a child but once when I was walking home from school (I was about 6) a snake and all her babies were in the road. I couldn’t get around them and that scared me to death. Whenever I approached that spot, I was scared, even years later. I’m over that fear now. LOL They were just garter snakes.
    Enjoyed participating in your fun post.

  • Reply
    Karen B
    October 11, 2009 at 9:47 am

    The Boogey man if we were outside and straying too far…Ol’ Red Eyes when we needed to go to bed, Ol Re Eyes looked in windows to see if kids were still awake..ahhh, gotta love my Pap!

  • Reply
    October 11, 2009 at 9:07 am


  • Reply
    Shane Moad
    October 11, 2009 at 4:52 am

    Yep, the old devil kept me on my toes as a kid and I guess he still does today……but then I know Jesus has given him a good whoppin so I know Im fine. : )
    Lots of stories about ghosts and the mad axeman and such down this way to Tipper.

  • Reply
    Brenda S 'Okie in Colorado'
    October 10, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    I was threatened by the Booger Man and like Tammy, I visioned him as the Devil. It certainly kept me away from places I didn’t have any business being near. I lived in a neighborhood of elderly folk. I loved visiting with them and sometimes would stay a little too long and it would be dark. One couple’s family room was in the back of their house, so I would have to leave out the back and my Grandparents house was 2 houses over. Knowing the Booger Man was somewhere between those houses somewhere…seems I ran so fast, my feet maybe hit the ground twice! I would hit my front porch without having taken a breath. It is so funny looking back how afraid I was, but yet gossiping at the young age of 7-8 years old was so important.
    Thanks for another great story.

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    October 10, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Tipper: You had to be good or the Booggyman would come and get you. I know there are a lot of varitations on the name but that is the way I heard the story. The Green Man of Wampum, PA was another story to scare you. BTW: I saw him.

  • Reply
    October 10, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Yes, these are the types of tales I was raised on too. Ones that seemed so true or were seemingly proven true. And yes, the devil is the bad guy, not necessarily a ghost. They can be good. 🙂 One time, probably the scaredest I’ve ever been was when I was walking to the school bus one morning around this time of the year because it was just barely light when I was walking. I looked up on the hill and saw the devil standing there holding to a tree. He was the traditional red horned devil with a tail and goat feet, but he was really muscular and wore blue jean cut off shorts. That did it for me. I ran the rest of the way to the bus.
    Oh, and end times stories…. my great grandmother told me many of those.

  • Reply
    Matthew Burns
    October 10, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Although I was always being threatened with getting carried off by Ol’ Fon or being sold the the gypsies, I most feared the panther that lived up on the mountain above our house and that made frequent trips down around our place just looking for an unwary child. i wasn’t afraid of nothin’ in the daylight, but come sundown you can bet that I was indoors or near a light of some kind. It never did dawn on me that whatever is out there in the nighttime is also out and about in the day!
    Good post…does anyone know for sure what this circle is? Any other stories about it? Scientific analysis? It’s very interesting. Don’t y’all down there in NC have bald’s as well? We ain’t got nothing (sorry my roots are showing) like that up here in WV. I’d like to know more.

  • Reply
    Catherine Seiberling Pond
    October 10, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Great post! I’m fascinated by this kind of legend, lore and hauntings (just as I am attracted by the miraculous and angelic).
    I was afraid of my closet door and tornadoes. I’m no longer afraid of the dark and am now more fascinated by tornadoes (and find it ironic that we live on the edge of tornado land–just close enough to get a few grazings from time to time).
    Thanks for a great blog, as always!

  • Reply
    October 10, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Great stuff. I hadn’t thought of “painters” in a long time. Their screams in the dark spawned a lot of stories about women turning into painters or vice versa. I feared willow switches and the woods after dark. My birthday was in the middle of October so I always had a Halloween party. My dad would dress up like a witch and scare the kids in attendance with his antics. That was back when you could still scare kids and use willow switches on them without being taken to court. Pappy

  • Reply
    julie curtis
    October 10, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Bloodybones. Still gives me the creeps when I hear his name!

  • Reply
    Just Jackie
    October 10, 2009 at 9:29 am

    The first house I remember living in was built during the Civil War. It had lots of creaks and groans but that didn’t scare me. What did scare me was the trap door to the attic that was right above my bed. My dad told me that if I didn’t stay in my bed all night (I had a tendency to wander)spiders and other creepy things would come down from there and get me. I’m still afraid to look into attics, crawl spaces or any other creepy place. Strangely enough, I’m not afraid of spiders or bugs. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    October 10, 2009 at 9:25 am

    I was afraid of Bloody Bones and the Were Wolf. That was a cute story-digging up the devil. Like you, I was more scared of the devil than anything else. Down here, it’s still hot (Upper 90’s) so it doesn’t even seem like fall.

  • Reply
    Julie at Elisharose
    October 10, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Cockroaches. Big. Texas. Cockroaches.

  • Reply
    My Carolina Kitchen
    October 10, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Bugs, I was afraid of bugs. Anything that crawled or, worse yet, flew. We went to Dallas one year when I was probably thirteen and there were thousands and thousands of crickets all over the streets. Awful experience for a silly teenage girl who still ’till this day doesn’t deal well with bugs.
    Have a great weekend.

  • Reply
    October 10, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Oooooo, spooky place. Wouldn’t want to be there at night.
    Speaking of night….the darkness is what scared me most.

  • Reply
    October 10, 2009 at 8:15 am

    I’ve got nothing to add, but I thought this was a great post.

  • Reply
    October 10, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Oh, definitely the “Booger Man” as told to me by my Papaw!
    To keep me out of a certain place he would tell me the Booger Man would get me.
    I took the Booger Man to equal in evil as the devil, believe you me!
    As to the link between staunch religion and the paranormal type stories goes all the way back to our roots in Celtic lands. To give any of it up would to be giving up our heritage!

  • Reply
    October 10, 2009 at 7:31 am

    That was a very interesting post, I enjoyed that.
    Off the top of my head I would have to say (now don’t laugh) I was afraid of bats. I got one stuck in my hair once and ever sense than I really dislike them.

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