Devil’s Hoof Prints

One more legend from North Carolina and again, I have seen this one. Hey, I’ve lived in NC for all but 7 years of my life! My mother grew up in Little Washington, NC, which is near Bath so of course when we visited relatives this was one of the stops. I have no photos from our trips of this so I had to search for some.

Devil’s Horse’s Hoof Prints near Bath are a series of small, saucer-shaped depressions that have been there since 1813. Measuring four to five inches deep with sloping sides from six to ten inches, the holes remain one of North Carolina’s most famous and enduring mysteries. There are pine needles all around the place because it’s at the edge of a wooded area and it wasn’t exactly well maintained like a park, but the holes were easily discernable.

The legend goes that on a Sunday morning about church time, Jesse Elliott and some companions planned to race their horses along the main street of Bath. Elliott mounted and spurred his horse, and as it raced off, he leaned forward shouting in its ear: “Take me in a winner or take me to Hell.” Promptly the horse dug its hooves into the soft earth, throwing Elliot against a tree and killing him instantly. So of course some believed that the horse was actually the devil in the form of a horse.

I also found this account in my research – “Actually, he was on his way to a race and was riding along side another man also headed to the race. This other man was mounted upon a very large black horse and was wearing all black with a hat to make his face invisible. Elliott challenged him to a little race on the way to the actual race and as he was passed by the man on the black horse, Elliott’s horse flew into a tree killing both instantly. There is no record of anyone with a straight black horse (no markings whatsoever) at the race. People have also tried to cover the tracks with cement, but nothing worked. They also used to charge admission but now it is free and open to the public.” Attributed to “Sam”

Tradition maintains that the holes, located just off N.C. 1334, about 3 miles west of Bath, have survived every known attempt to permanently eradicate or alter them. No vegetation grows inside them and none of the pine needles surrounding the holes ever remain in the prints. For years, kids have tried to cover them or fill them in only to find that the holes are empty again upon their next visit. I’d never heard about the cement before. Tons of visitors to the site have experienced the same phenomena, and yes, I was one of them. I didn’t get to go back and see if my pine needles were gone but the prints were still there the next visit I made.

Is it any wonder I love writing about the paranormal – such possibilities!! Click on the covers for more information.

   

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