The Devil's Tramping Ground is a barren circle in the forest in the Harper's Crossroad community near Bennett, North Carolina. It is the subject of some of North Carolina's oldest legends. For at least the last hundred years, nothing has grown within the 40 foot ring and the phenomenon is thus far unexplained. A United States Geological Survey team could uncover no scientific explanation for the lack of growth within the ring.
Stories about the ring are well known in local communities. These include the disappearance of objects left within the ring overnight, and strange events occurring to those brave enough to spend the night within its boundaries.
Legend says that this is the very place the devil himself can rise from the depths of fiery hell, and come to earth. It's at this place, the devil walks in circles on certain nights and brings his evil into this world.
Hunters who have had rabbit hounds in the area say that dogs refuse to enter or cross the area of the Devils Tramping Ground. Men on horseback say that horses react the same way. They refuse to cross or go in the area of the Devils Tramping Ground.
Over the years paranormal investigators have been to the area of the Devils Tramping Ground many times but have never been able to prove what it is or is not. It is a known historical fact that vegetation will not grow there. Scientists from the US Geological Survey team have been to the area to find out why nothing will grow there but they could not find any reason for the absence of vegetation in the area of the Devils Tramping Ground.
Stories about the Devils Tramping Ground are well known in the area and its said you can carry and place a large rock in the center of the path there and in the morning it will be moved over out of the way. The area is also said to frighten some people and they refuse to go any where near the area.
John William Harden (1903-1985) of Greensboro, N.C., journalist, newspaper editor, author, advisor to North Carolina governors and textile executives, and founder of the state's first full-service public relations company had this to say of the 'Devil's Tramping Ground:'
There, sometimes during the dark of night, the Majesty of the Underworld of Evil silently tramps around that bare circle-- thinking, plotting, and planning against good, and in behalf of wrong.
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Information - North Carolina Museum of History
There’s a piece of land 10 miles east of Siler City, in western Chatham County, that’s as creepy as they come. It’s a perfect circle, 40 feet across, lying just off the highway. Nothing grows inside the circle. Dogs and wildlife won’t step inside it, and birds won’t land in it. There aren’t even any rocks or sticks within this unnatural ring. It’s called the Devil’s Tramping Ground.
Early settlers in Chatham County first saw the circle in the 1770s. Since that time some people have planted grass and vegetable seeds in its soil, but nothing has ever come up. Others have put objects inside the circle only to find them gone the next morning. A few brave folks have tried to spend the night in the circle, but something—a noise, a moving object, or a ghostly shape—has scared them away.
What caused this eerie ring on the ground? Over the years stories and legends have grown up about it. An American Indian legend says that generations of Indians danced in the circle at celebrations. The Great Spirit now protects the spot to honor members of the tribe who were driven from their lands by European settlers. Another Indian legend says that Chief Croatan, a great tribal leader, was killed in the circle during a battle and is buried there. The Great Spirit keeps the circle empty to honor him.
One story about the circle is really out of this world. It says that visitors from outer space landed there in a UFO! Another story says that magic treasure is buried deep in the ground. But the best-known legend also explains the name of the circle.
According to this legend, every night the devil walks around in circles thinking up evil plans. At the first light of day, he turns into a bat and flies off to carry out his plans. His tramping throughout the night leaves the ground bare and grim. Some people think that a farmer who owned the land where the circle lies made up this story to keep hunters off his property. Even if this is true, it doesn’t explain the mystery.
There are also believable explanations. One explanation says that the circle is on the site of a molasses mill that used horses or mules to pull the mill wheel. It was their hooves that damaged the ground. Yet other mills at that time didn’t leave such circles.
Scientists finally stepped in to solve the mystery. They found that the soil in the circle has a high level of salt. And they know that the spot was an ancient salt lick for bison and deer. This explains why nothing will grow there, but it doesn’t explain why the area is a perfect circle or why it has lasted so long.
NOTE: I vaguely remember visiting this place back in the 1960's during a family trip. I really don't know that much about it but my relatives who lived near there swear something is going on, ex. disembodied voices, strange lights and apparitions...Lon
The Devil's Tramping Ground - Chatham County, N.C.
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