Conkle's Hollow

Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio has its share of ghost stories. One tells of an adventurous man who fell in love with a windy, steep-sided hollow. In the 1790s, William Conkle traveled the lands in the spirit of exploration. He traded with Shawnee and Wyandot Indians. He witnessed animals such as bears, elk, bison and bobcats. When he came upon that wondrous hollow in Hocking Hills, he carved his name and the year, 1797, in to stone for future travelers. It's unclear how he died but it's believed he roams that gorge, keeping a watchful eye over his treasure. And he has company.

After his death, life molded in to a much harsher nature. The population among the wilderness grew. Native Americans found the situation cramped. While paddling down the Ohio River to their new home, a group of three Shawnee raided settlers, stealing silver and other treasures. In the spirit of thievery, a posses of settlers followed the natives in hopes of taking what they had stolen. The natives were chased in to the dead-end walls of Conkle's Hollow. In desperation, they cut a Hemlock tree to lean against the cliff wall and climbed to a "hominy hole", hiding their loot in the small opening. Then, climbed down and knocked over the tree. The plan was to chop and lean another tree against the cliff and retrieve the stolen silver. Unfortunately, they were captured outside the hollow and hanged before telling anyone where they had hid it. The treasure is yet to be found. Then again it may never be recovered with the Shawnee spirits guarding it. Their shouts and chants can still be heard within the narrow walls. And don't think they won't appear to divert any chance you have to finding it either.

An alternative to this legend has the Shawnee marking their hiding place by carving an arrow in the stone wall. Then, they escaped their predators and continued to their new home. Years later, they returned to find the arrow had eroded. Some say by nature. Others think it was by Conkle's ghostly hands.

When the War of 1812 broke out, the need for iron and gunpowder grew. Therefore, the Appalachian Hills came in to great use. Saltpeter Cave, located just down the road from Conkle's Hollow, held a large deposit of saltpeter, a key component in gunpowder. Production began and twenty Native American slaves went to work mining this precious mineral from the cave. As the work continued, disaster hit. Work regulations were unheard of at the time. The result was a large portion of the roof caved in, crushing over half the native workers. Their spirits wander the valley.

A man name Charlie is also said to haunt Saltpeter Cave. He allegedly cut off the head of his wife and her lover. Then tossed them both off the top of the cave. He is heard chopping wood near the cave at night.

You can visit Conkle's Hollow. However, it's not a place for children and you should check with park services before venturing down the trail.


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