If you’ve hiked Grey Flats near Beckley, W.Va., you know how eerie those woods can be. But there’s no more eerie a place in all the flats than the at old farm beyond the south end of the flats. There the Old Farm Trail meets the South Grey Flats Trail in a patch of thorns and brambles. That patch of bramble and the decrepit old oaks and maples that shade it are all that’s left of an old farm, the ruins of which have been there as long as anyone can remember, though there’s little to be found but old foundation stones. Hikers and bikers on the trail have long told tales of a haunting there, but I didn’t put much stock in the tales until a few years ago when my friends and I actually saw something that none of us can explain.
It was nearly dusk in late October and it was cold and drizzly, and though that made seeing difficult, what we saw was plainly visible. At the point on the Grey Flats Trail where trees move in close we saw a black figure in what might have been a long coat and a broad-rimmed hat. Though man-shaped, it had no obvious depth as no light fell upon it. It was completely black. And rather than moving like a person, it moved without walking. And it moved to the side, away from us up through the trees away from the road toward what might have been the farmhouse. And though the rocky ground rose, the figure did not. It appeared to move into the earth. As soon as it disappeared into the ground my friend Becky began to get sick. She held her hands over her stomach and bent down and began to let out of kind of a long sob. We asked her if she was alright and she shook her head yes, that she just wanted to go home, so we grabbed her by the arms and went back out toward Ship Rock. Just as we were getting ready to turn onto the old farm trail we looked back and saw the shape again. It appeared to be emerging from the ground and heading down toward where the old strip mines were.
I have no explanation for what we saw. I have heard that someone was murdered near the farm, but I can’t find anything to confirm that. This is the only time I have ever had anything like a supernatural experience. I have been past the site many time since and have never seen anything, though I don’t linger long waiting.