The White Wolf of Whitlock Farm

The White Wolf of Whitlock Farm
The historic Whitlock Farm on Wolf Creek Road / Brenda Calfee

I guess a lot of people know about Wolf Creek near Fayetteville because it drops into the New River Gorge in a series of spectacular cascades. But I don’t suppose many know that the creek heads up in the plateau near Oak Hill and that it was named because of wolves. Wolves haven’t been seen in the state since the 1800s, except for one case I know about firsthand—the White Wolf that haunts the Whitlock Farm on Wolf Creek Road.

I suppose it’s a ghost wolf, not a white wolf, though that’s what they call it. Legend has it that the wolf prowls the fields around the old farm pond in the evening but that its favorite haunt is in the bend in front of the old Whitlock farmhouse. The farmhouse isn’t that spooky itself, though most everyone knows it because of its red-and-yellow brick. It’s as much a part of the landscape as the big oaks that shade the yard around it. They say that late, late at night people driving past the house catch a flicker of white in their headlights. That’s the wolf.

One night about 25 years ago we were driving back from a party in town and we saw the White Wolf for ourselves. We were coming through the bend in front of the farmhouse when my boyfriend decided he wanted to pull over in front of the farm and get romantic. Everything seemed normal, though a little spooky as there was no one living in the farmhouse then. I’d completely forgotten about the legend of the White Wolf because I was more worried about seeing a ghost looking out the farmhouse window at me, which is another story I’ve heard about that place.

At any rate, we were sitting there, talking, and the headlights were off, so you couldn’t see much in the darkness, but still, I seemed to see a kind of white form moving around outside the car. I thought it was a trick of the eyes at first, the way things look in the near-dark. But then I kept seeing it move, I thought, through the tall grass near the car. I told my boyfriend to be quiet a minute. He didn’t seem to notice anything and started laughing. But then all of a sudden it was standing there outside my car door and let out a howl so loud it was unbelievable. I could see its eyes looking at us, but I was paralyzed with fear and couldn’t turn my head. Jon fumbled with the keys and got the car started and back up right into Wolf Creek Road without stopping. Not that there was any traffic on the road at that hour anyway. We didn’t stop until we were a mile down the road and then just pulled over and cried, we were so scared.

I pass the farmhouse all the time now and haven’t seen anything since, but then I’m not wanting to see anything again, so I don’t look hard. Why the ghost wolf might haunt the farm, who can say? Maybe a hunter killed it, the last of its kind, there in the little levels along the creek. Maybe it’s guarding the house. Maybe people still see it from time to time. Every once in a while I’ll hear an old’ timer from Garten or Gatewood talk about it, but, for the most part, the legend seems to have slipped away.

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