American Folklore

American Folklore: Kentucky

American Folklore: Kentucky

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Kentucky was originally part of Virginia and became the 15th US state in 1792. It is one of only four US states to be designated as commonwealths (instead of states) in their founding documents—the other three being Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Massachusetts. It is the 37th largest in geographical area and 26th largest in population in the United States. With its long history of human habitation, deep woods, and mysterious and unexplored mountainous areas, Kentucky is a state where you just know there is a ton of good folklore. Here are some of the highlights of it.

Kentucky’s Own Sleepy Hollow

You might expect anything called Sleepy Hollow to have creepy connotations and weird things associated with it. Kentucky’s version is no exception. Located in Prospect, Kentucky, Sleepy Hollow Road definitely has some weird things going on there. It is said drivers on the road sometimes find themselves being chased by a black hearse that appears out of thin air and tries to run them off the road. There is no word yet on what happens if it is successful, as presumably anyone who actually went off the road was either killed or vanished and is not here to tell the tale.

The road is also the location of what was once a bridge. Though the bridge is no longer there, those who drive past its location sometimes report hearing ghostly cries of infants coming from the area. Legend has it that when the bridge was there, women would throw unwanted or otherwise ill children who were unlikely to live or who would be too hard to care for off the bridge to get rid of them.

There also seems to be an issue with time on Sleepy Hollow Road. Drivers have reported driving onto the road, driving on it for a few minutes (or otherwise relatively short periods of time), and exiting it in what seemed like a short amount of time, but was actually hours later by their car and phone clocks, and in the world beyond the road.

The Cop Ghost of Narrows Road

Sleepy Hollow Road is not the only haunted road in Kentucky. In Erlanger, Kentucky, there is Narrows Road. In the 1950s, a police officer was struck and killed by a passing car there while doing a routine traffic stop. Since then, he has continued to patrol the road in his same patrol car from that era. He will sometimes pull people over, and then disappear as he approaches their cars to talk to them. Every now and then, he actually has a conversation with the people he pulls over, and they do not know he is a ghost until he disappears as he is walking away. More than half a century later, and he is still on duty, looking out for the safety of the drivers on this road.

The Goatman of Fisherville

In Fisherville, Kentucky, there is a half-man, half-goat creature who lives underneath the Norfolk Southern Railway Trestle that goes across the Floyds Fork River. Legend has it that the goatman calls out to people on or near the trestle, using a childlike voice to lure them, as they will think a child is in need of their assistance. Those who go when the voice calls are either found later, dead under the trestle, or simply vanish and are never seen by anyone again. It seems like the goatman is eating these unfortunate victims, but there is no clear evidence for sure.

The Twin Train Tunnels of Lambs Ferry Road

Kentucky seems to have an issue with haunted roads and train tracks, but this bit of folklore combines both of them. On Lambs Ferry Road in Ryland, Kentucky are the twin train tunnels. They are in a dark and empty area, and were originally built by L&N Railroad, and are now used by CSX Railroad. The legend goes that a man was hit and killed by a train in this area sometime in the 1930s. Some stories say he worked for the railroad, while others say he was simply out for an evening walk. Either way, he is still there, and can’t seem to find his way out of the railway tunnels. He is seen walking along the tunnels, appearing to be looking for the exit. Sometimes, he carries a lantern with him, while other times he does not.

The Witch Child of Pilot’s Knob

Unlike many folktales, which are told to others with delight by their keepers, the people of the tiny town of Pilot’s Knob, Kentucky, do not want to talk about this tale. Though the story from which it originates happened a century ago, they appear to still be concerned the witch child might wreak havoc on their town for what their ancestors did if they mention it. Maybe there is some truth to it. Who knows?

What is known is that Pilot’s Knob is a small, rural town that is relatively isolated from the rest of the world. Superstitions among the townsfolk there lingered long after they faded from the rest of the country (or, at least, most of it). In the early 1900s, there was a single woman and her six-year-old daughter living there, who the townsfolk accused of witchcraft. While witchcraft was no longer a crime in the rest of the country, the townsfolk took matters into their own hands, and burned both mother and child at the stake (something never officially done or sanctioned in America, which hanged its convicted witches… burning at the stake was only ever officially done by governments in Europe).

The townspeople seemed to be particularly concerned about the child coming back, and so buried her in a steel-lined grave covered with gravel and concrete instead of dirt. They even erected a wrought iron fence around her grave to keep her in its borders. Today, parts of the fence look as if they were pushed outward from the inside by a powerful force, and the footprints of a small child are sometimes seen in the gravel.


About the author

Will Moneymaker

He founded Ancestral Findings in 1995 and has been involved in genealogy research for over 24 years. The excitement begin when he started investigating the meaning of his surname. Check out, Why He Loves Genealogy and visit his photography website.