Category Archives: Hyattstown

Intrigue at Little Bennett

What do you do if you can’t sleep at night and you write  ghost stories? The most natural thing, it seems to me, is to tell a story. It’s as if we are all at a cosmic sleep-over, when the lights are turned off and one person sits with the flashlight shining in their face. You know it probably isn’t a good idea, but you can’t stop yourself. And so, gather ‘round while I tell you a story about one of the haunted places of Montgomery County.

nature centerOne of the gems of Montgomery County’s park system is Little Bennett Regional Park. (How appropriate to tell a campfire story about the place that has the county’s only campgrounds!) Before that land became the park, people lived and farmed there and small settlements could be found. There were a number of mills, something Montgomery County was well suited for geologically speaking, and even a whiskey distillery. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the building which is now Hawk’s Reach Activity Center pre-dates the creation of the park and had a different life before becoming a nature center. It was originally a church.

To the people who worked at the nature center, it was also a place where the unexpected can and did happen. Before its current iteration as a nature center, it had been a nature center and had closed before being renovated and re-opening as Hawk’s Reach. The rocking chairs that were out for visitors were frequently rocked by unseen legs…and sometimes if you tried to sit down in one, unseen hands pushed you out and off that phantom lap. One of the scariest things that happened was that one day, as the rangers were packing up to leave, the antlers that hang on the wall started to fall. But instead of crashing down on the head of the person who was standing under them, they hovered in the air and were then thrown to the side, where they landed without hurting anyone.

There are stories that two men died in that building, but without being able to verify that, they are just stories.  Could the ghosts have some connection to the building’s use as a church? Or perhaps it is connected to something that happened on the land before the church was built. This was a fairly wild area and the people who lived there were no strangers to political rivalries, moonshiners, and feuds. And yet, preventing the antlers from possibly injuring one of the rangers seems to be an act of kindness. So while we conjecture about who or what the phantoms could be, let us look at the building’s life as a church; a place where people gathered and prayed, creating a spiritual energy that was greater than the individuals themselves; an energy that may not have dissipated with time. I will leave it with you to decide who or what continues to occupy Hawk’s Reach.

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Out and About and a Ghostly Bit

The last week has been full of being out and about speaking to various groups. We had amazing turnouts at our talks at the Sandy Spring Museum and the Goshen Historical Society. On Saturday we went to the Hyattstown Mill Arts Project’s annual St. Paddy’s Day Poetry and Potluck. Dorothy read a modified version of the Little Bennett story and we enjoyed a lively, creative evening of poetry, prose, music and art. You can’t ask for more than that!

Hyattstown Mill, ca. 1918. From HMAP.

One of the the things we really enjoy about speaking at different groups is that we almost always come away with a lead or two for new stories or more about some of the stories that are already in the book. I would have expected no less at Sandy Spring and Goshen, two of the best represented, most haunted places in ISOMG:MC, but we had nothing for Hyattstown,  or much in that part of the county. We went with great hopes that someone would have a tale to tell and we were not disappointed! So, in the spirit of St. Paddy’s Day, I have decided to share with you our story writing process; how we find a story and where we begin. This is not the finished product, but what happens at the beginning, when we know just a little history and have been given the briefest of paranormal tales. The rest comes after much research is done and some colorful prose has been crafted.

The Hyattstown Mill, a grist mill, was built in 1918 on the site of an older mill complex, ca. 1790. It ceased operations in the 1930s. The mill is located in Little Bennett Regional Park and is operated by the Hyattstown Mill Arts Project.  One day, one of the artists that works at the mill was alone on the second floor when she saw an apparition of a woman.

And there you have it. The beginning of a new story. Perhaps something for volume 2…

 

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