There’s a remote, lonely dirt road outside of the university town of Huntsville, that for years has had the reputation as a place you don’t want to be after dark. The road, although not a Texas main artery, has the function of connecting two very busy provincial roads and for this reason many venture into the approximately 4 km of road that winds through desolate fields, woods, abandoned houses and the old Martha’s Chapel Cemetery.
Its real name is Bowden Road, and today it would be almost forgotten if it were not for the cemetery and ghost’s enthusiasts. In fact, although connecting two state roads, the authorities tend to divert traffic elsewhere and at the entrance of the street, better known as Demon’s Road, there are signs that invite to caution and to not stop on the way.
The reputation of the Demon’s Road has been known for more than a century: since 1880 many in that area had joined the famous Ku Klux Klan, an American white supremacist hate group, sadly popular for the barbarism perpetrated by some of its members. Today it is believed (more than anything else it is feared) that some small extremist groups remained faithful to that ideology still exploit the isolated road to commit horrible crimes against many African Americans who often disappear from neighboring cities.
The Huntsville sheriff himself since 1985 has repeatedly exposed himself in rallies or press conferences to dissuade the population not to go the road except for extreme necessity and has forbidden groups of students and tourists to camp all over the area. Unfortunately, the result was exactly the opposite of what was hoped for and every year hundreds of curious people venture by car or on foot in search of a story to tell.
In any case, even in the bright light of day, there are reason’s it has become known by that name.
There is a historical fact, dates back to the distant 1809, in which a farmer who still lived in one of the farms now abandoned was seen by some friends disappear along the road dragged by a black shadow in the woods. His body was found slaughtered and his pieces scattered in a field owned by him. That story frightened the inhabitants along the way to such an extent that a real mass exodus began and after less than three years almost all the residents were gone.
Later, 1985 was a terrible year for the local authorities: in six months four people were found slaughtered on the edges of the Road and two tourists were never found after a friend of theirs reported their disappearance. That umpteenth misfortune convinced the sheriff to stop student gatherings in the woods and to ban everyone from entering for some time.
Another story goes that in 2001, a man named Bob who lived in Houston heard about Demon’s Road and convinced a friend to go with him to explore. As Bob parked beside the cemetery, he saw that his friend had fallen asleep in the passenger seat. It had been a long drive so not wanting to disturb his sleep and figuring he would join him after he woke up, Bob left to explore the cemetery on his own. As he was walking around reading the epitaphs, he saw something moving on a grave. As he watched frozen in horror, a hand slowly began coming up through the ground and, within a few seconds, the whole arm was above ground and it began grasping around as if in search of something. The hand reached Bob’s pant leg and grabbed ahold. Finally able to move, Bob instinctively reached down and grabbed the hand to pull it away from his pants leg, and the hand yes, released its grip, but abruptly latched on to Bob’s wrist and began pulling him down! So, his friend showed up and began frantically pulling him away. Eventually Bob managed to get away from the clutching hand but after running a few yards away to safety, Bob turned to look at his friend only to find he was nowhere to be seen. Confused and frightened, Bob continued to run back to his car.
As he quickly opened the driver’s door, he saw his friend slumped over in the passenger seat still asleep. Bob quickly started the car and spun away from the cemetery. However, as the motor raced and the car swayed from side to side, his friend fell toward him, his eyes open, but unseeing. It was later determined he had died of a heart attack hours earlier, apparently during the drive down Demon’s Road toward the cemetery.
More recently, in 2010, a couple stated they noticed a figure walking in the abandoned cemetery and when they leaned over to look at her they saw that she was not resting her feet on the ground and that she was stroking all the gravestones she encountered on her way. When they reached the car they found several handprints on their car and, even more macabre, blood on the windshield which turned out to be human.
In any case, witnesses report large handprints being left on their vehicles. Some claim the handprints appear to be where someone or something unseen grabbed at their car and almost 100 car owners found prints on their vehicle.
Stories are really countless and locals warn curious people who desire to brave the path or visit the graveyard not to provoke the spirits. Many of those warnings are spoken by those who claim that a spirit followed them home after being in that area.
A women reported the encounter her husband and their friends had while at the cemetery. She claimed they saw a man wandering through the cemetery one evening, but did not pay much heed to the wanderer.
A few days later, as the woman was getting into the shower, she turned around to close the curtain, and much to her surprise, there in her bedroom, stood the same man they had seen wandering through the cemetery. She screamed and the man abruptly faded away before her eyes.
Incredible or not, along the road there are many uncultivated fields and a dense thicket, yet according to some it seems that at night houses appear that are not there during the day, especially near the Martha Chapel Cemetery, which is an obligatory passage for those who travel on the road.
During the day the area near the cemetery is covered by a thick pine forest, but many report that tombstones can be found outside the old cemetery fence at night and some say that the whole burial area after the sunset is always wrapped in a yellowish mist.
Some inhabitants believe that the ghosts of people killed by the KKK (usually hanged) roam among the trees and that sometimes their bodies or parts of them appear on ropes hanging from the branches.
One of the earliest tales is of the apparition of a child with glowing eyes riding an early version of a tricycle along the road by the cemetery. He has been encountered numerous times and it is reported as you near him, he simply vanishes into the air. Sometimes though, he will slowly turn his head and his glowing eyes will intensely stare at you as if he is looking into your soul before slowly fading away.
There have also been numerous claims that a strange, faceless, threatening creature appears out of the woods on either side of the road. The one thing in common with all the reports is that no matter what form the spirits choose to reveal themselves, they have never been reported as anything less than hostile.
Bowden Road is still today much feared by the elderly inhabitants of that area while, despite the numerous recommendations and attempts by the authorities to make lose interest in the zone, today many curious people are visiting it. And almost everyone at the exit has something strange or disturbing to tell.
So if you just cannot resist the urge to explore the unexplained, please remember not to provoke or disrespect the spirits along your way. Steer clear of those who have died on but are attempting to escape their graves, and avoid becoming a cult’s next sacrifice. Oh and never let a ghostly “hitch hiker” follow you home….
Images from web.