Appalachia Ghost Stories

The Story Of The Devil’s Tramping Ground

My life in appalachia my homeland

Appalachia is full of scary stories about ghosts, witches, painters, hainted houses, etc. Religion is woven so tightly through Appalachia-that the Devil also plays a significant role as a fear factor. When I was growing up-I was much more afraid of the Devil getting me than a ghost.

One time-a childhood friend of mine decided she’d heard enough about the Devil and wanted to see if he was as mean as everybody at church said he was. Her and a cousin decided they’d just dig him up and find out for themselves.

After digging for quite a while, they unearthed something they took for his hair. Once they hit the black strands their bravery left them pretty quick. As kids will do-they decided to fix the mess they’d made.

They frantically tried to figure out how to hide their misdeed-I mean how could she explain to her Southern Baptist Deacon Daddy that she had brought the Devil out into broad daylight? In his own backyard?

They found some old concrete mixed it with water and poured it in the hole, all the while hoping it would hold old Lucifer tight.

Devils tramping ground
(Photo provided by Old Rebel you can see some of his other photos here)

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 Satan 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.


So now I’ve told you-my biggest fear as a child was the Devil-what was yours?


Portions of this post were originally published here on the Blind Pig in October 2011


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 23, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    I guess I am the odd man out but I love storms. When I see lightning and hear thunder I want to get outside and watch and listen. I also feel more comfortable in the dark than the light. I don’t connect the underworld with the night. To the contrary the darkness makes me feel the equal of whatever dwells there. It’s only in the light that I feel I become a target.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    October 23, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Tipper. this man told me a story when I was small growing he said the devil chased him and he played peek eye around a big oak tree with him. He was a mute everyone called him dummy Woody. He made sign languages and he said he got religion after the devil’s chase.He drew a picture of what the devil looked like and when other would not believe his story as true he would get mad at them.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    October 23, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Tipper,here is a story than might get some laughs.
    Rupert the Guard Dog’s encounter With the Devil
    Tom the next door neighbor and me old Rupert were on the ridge above our house and we saw the devil and went down the hill running over ever sapling on the ridge . Tom told Oscar my owner what we saw and Oscar threw back his head and said you saw old Whispering billy Walker he loves to scare people and the next week old Oscar and me were on the ridge looking for deer signs and Oscar and me saw the devil again it scare old Oscar perk near to death and Oscar ask him who are you and the devil answered I’m the devil and I have come after your soul. Oscar gained his voice and said your not getting my souls and you leave Rupert along I don’t know if dogs have souls but I’ll shoot your ass off if you bother Rupert.
    Tom and Oscar conversed and knew it must have been the devil they saw and got religion.They wonder if I Rupert saw him too, I wanted to tell them yes I saw the old rascal but PS just between me and you I think it was the big blonde who appeared as the devil to incise them, dog and man can they see the devil, but one thing for sure they both can see a big blonde.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 23, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    I was afraid of the bugger man that hid in the closet. Also thunder and lightening, actually terrified.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    October 23, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    A couple of stories:
    As a little boy, my granny scared the crap out of me by telling me to stay in at night because a “painter” would get and eat me. My mom also used the term “painter.” I didn’t know what they were talking about, but I was wary of the night. We had a neighbor who was a painter. I imagined a mean man with a bucket of paint and a brush who ate little boys. Again it was years later that I realized she was saying panther.
    When I was about twelve year old, I worked for a tobacco farmer one summer. He had a couple of plow horses. I would ride one of them around the farm and through the woods. There was a place in the woods where the horse refused to go. I tried to take her to it from different directions. She wasn’t having any of it. As kids we made up many reasons why she wouldn’t go there. The most popular was that it was a haunted indian burial ground.

  • Reply
    October 23, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    We would have said “tromping”. I was most afraid of vampires & spent my childhood almost suffocated under heavy quilts protecting my neck from the terrible vampire bite.

  • Reply
    October 23, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I love these stories! My fear as a child was someone or some thing hiding under my bed. I was afraid it would grab my feet so I made sure they were always covered. I have no idea where that thought came from but I did have an older sister so that might explain it. : )

  • Reply
    Cheryl Soehl
    October 23, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Tipper, I found a site describing a “scientific” investigation of the circle that was performed: Apparently they found that the soil from the circle is definitely different from the surrounding soil and does not support seed germination. Other than that, it does not explain why exactly vegetation doesn’t grow. Interesting phenomenon.

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    October 23, 2014 at 9:56 am

    I often had to go back out after dark to complete a farm chore…close a gate, turn off the water, let a cow out or in, and the worst fear was returning to the house with the dark at my back. I knew a large hand would land on my shoulder at any minute…especially when I had to pause to open the door.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 23, 2014 at 9:51 am

    The tales about the Devil at Siler City are merely a diversion. About 60 miles due east is where the Beelzebub really does his plotting and planning. It’s the real Devil’s Trampling Ground. From there he can wreak havoc on the lives of every citizen in the state of North Carolina. If you want to go see it, the address is 16 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27601. Don’t go there looking for the Devil though. He easily disguises himself as any plain ordinary politician. That’s what is really scary!

  • Reply
    October 23, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Hum! That was thought provoking in that the ground seems to be cursed. I wonder what is really buried under there. Could it be the entrance to the devil’s kingdom or is it just unblessed ground? So many of these stories seem to exist throughtout time.

  • Reply
    October 23, 2014 at 9:23 am

    I guess I never thought about what the boogyman looked like. It was the noise I imagined he would make that scared me most. The devil was one of my biggest fears, as I was told so many times he was going to get me for something I had done. Sleeping with my head under the covers meant I didn’t have to see him when he arrived. I should have been afraid of smothering to death when I hid under the pile of quilts.
    I overcame the fear of the devil after I married my ex-husband. He made the devil look like a choirboy! Now I live alone in an old haunted house that scares everyone but me.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 23, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Yep, that’s scary alright! I wonder how many folks have spent the night there trying to see “Beelzebub”…? I don’t think I could do it. It might start out in fun, with a marshmallow roast, laughing and talking but then the tone would quiet down as the night went on, folks would get sleepy and just as eyes were closing…..
    That is when my heart would fail!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…They say the ground has a high salt content? If so, why don’t wildlife/night cameras catch deer around the giant salt lick???
    This reminds me of something! If you want to get rid of kudzu, mix ice cream salt and water and spray all your kudzu and brush. The deer will feed on it, relishing the salt and rid you of it!

  • Reply
    Charles Fletcher
    October 23, 2014 at 8:16 am

    The people that lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina believed in many strange things. They planted different things in their gardens according to the signs of Zodiac and position of the moon. They also believed in the supernatural. They were believers in “Haints, Ghosts and Buggers”. If one of the children did something that they were not supposed to they were threatened by their parents. “The haints, ghosts or buggers will get you”. This usually did the job. The children believed there were such things.
    There is a difference in these three “Supernatural” threats.
    The one used depended on how bad a thing you did.
    The “Bugger” was used for the lesser punishment. These were the things that were under your bed and would do you harm after you went to sleep. One of these threats would have us keeping our head under the covers on the bed.
    Next was the “Ghosts”. This was where you would see white sheets and other scary objects floating around in the dark. It was thought that they would get you under their sheet and carry you away.
    The “Haunt” was the really bad one. It was meaner than the others. These were where you would see someone riding a white horse with his head in his hand. You could actually see the blood on the white sheet he would be wearing. Other times there would be some sort of thing flying over your head dressed in white and screaming and
    Making other scary noises. This was the one we were most scarred of.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 23, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Tip, I was afraid of thunder storms. Not the rain but the thunder and lightening. I’m not afraid of it now but I sure was as a child.
    I wonder what made your friend think the devil was in the ground. I guess it was because hell is supposedly below ground.

  • Leave a Reply