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.
One 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.