By Sherri Brake
During the years prior to the American Civil War, the Underground Railroad was the path to freedom for those seeking to throw off their shackles and chains. Many slaves who were held in the south made their way along this perilous route to the north with one thought in mind: FREEDOM! The roads through the hills and hollows of what is now West Virginia were difficult at best, but offered many hiding places for the escaping slaves on their trip north. In the area of the town of Parsons in Tucker County, there stands a mountain shadowed in folklore and death, Darkish Knob.
Darkish Knob looms as a rocky mount and happened to be along one of the best routes north through the mountains of western Virginia. There were many places to hide out back in the old days while traversing Darkish Knob, but traveling at night through the deadly pass could be treacherous, if not mortal to those not familiar with the area. A small rickety house was hidden near the base of the hill that offered rest and safety for the slaves attempting to escape. The house was so well hidden that many travelers passed it by accidentally. This made it the perfect place to hide out and avoid recapture.
A young girl was trying to locate the house during her escape north. She was being chased by ruthless men who had been hired to find runaway slaves, and missed the house and started up the trail over Darkish Knob in her confusion. She rode her exhausted horse to the top of the hill and dropped back down to the path that winds down to the Cheat River. As she rode along the precarious trail, she turned and looked back. The horse lost his footing in the loose shale rock and plunged over the edge of the hill. As the girl fell to the rocks below, she let out a bloodcurdling scream that was heard for miles as it echoed off the hills. She plunged to her death while seeking what others would take for grantedfreedom from the chains of captivity.
Many residents in the years following the girl's death spoke of the Darkish Knob as a sinister and evil-filled place. Several unafraid people who have explored the location have "sensed" a presence in the area of the steep overgrown pathway. The ghostly image of the unnamed young girl has been seen returning to the top of the hill every year on the anniversary of her death. The ghostly moans and cries of the slave girl are audible for several minutes before a terrifying scream is heard as the moment of her death approaches. Ghost hunters call this type of haunting "residual" or "imprinted" energy. Many people today still claim to hear or see her on occasion. Those who believe, say that she quietly walks the loose pathway down the hill, looking for freedom and searching for eternal peace.