On our way to Pittsburgh, I spotted a sign off I-70 in southeastern Ohio. A brown sign that said "Egypt Valley Wildlife Area" with an arrow pointing north.
So we got off the beaten highway and found ourselves utterly alone on gravel roads winding through over 14,000 acres of wilderness area.
Egypt Valley, according to my research, was the site of a huge surface coal mining operation, with the last mine closing down in 1998. Since then, the area has been allowed to return to its natural state, and there are many wetlands, grasslands, and brushlands habitats that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources now manages for public hunting and fishing.
You just don't expect to see this sort of terrain in the Midwest.
I put my telephoto lens on the camera, in hopes we'd spot some interesting wildlife, all the while telling Kim we'd probably not see a darn thing.
And I was right.
We drove along miles and miles of roads like this and didn't even see so much as a squirrel scampering across our path. Very few birds even. It was really almost creepily quiet.
image from google.com
Local legend has it that Egypt Valley is haunted. I had read about the 1869 murder of 13-year-old Louiza Fox by her deranged ex-fiance Thomas Carr. Apparently enraged when Louiza's parents called off the engagement, he ambushed Louiza and her brother while they were walking home, sent her brother home so Carr could "talk" to Louiza, after which he kissed her then slit her throat with a razor and stabbed her 14 times, throwing her body in a ditch. It was the first known murder in the township and Carr was the first murderer executed when he was hung from a gallows the following year.
We never could find the cemetery ourselves, as the roads are not marked and we had no map to go by anyway. But from what I read, the ghost of Louiza is often seen and heard walking through the cemetery and sometimes weeping at her gravesite.
There are other tales of haunted happenings in Egypt Valley. A truck driver's severed arm supposedly roams through the cemetery, walking on its fingers and one can hear it skittering along in the night. Many witches are said to be buried in the several unmarked graves. Visitors have reported a phantom house appearing near Louiza's murder site, with 7 red candles in the windows. But the house disappears into thin air when approached.
Legend also has it that if you walk around the cemetery six times, you will disappear.
If one believes in such things, which I don't ...but still, such legends fascinate me and it is a VERY CREEPY place! I would never want to be out there after dark. Or even alone in the daylight. And we never even found the actual cemetery....
Piedmont Lake is long and skinny, fingering through the middle of the valley. Yes, those are lotus plants...as far as the eye can see.
I guess maybe the reason we didn't see any wildlife is that there is so many places for them to hide and so much foliage this time of year that it would be difficult to see them.
But it was cool to drive through such an unusual spot...