CHICKASAW COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – The 444 miles of Natchez Trace Parkway provide a scenic route from Natchez to Nashville. But along the way, the historic route shares plenty of stories. Some of those stories, like the Witch Dance, are more haunted and spooky than others.
“We get a lot of people that come through and say, ‘oh it’s a beautiful day there’s nothing spooky about this place.’ And then you talk to the locals and come out here into the backwoods in the dead of night and there is an eeriness,” said Caren Briscoe, U.S. Forest Service District Ranger of the Holly Springs and Tombigbee Ranger Districts.
The tales of the Witch Dance date back centuries ago. Just north of Houston along the Natchez Trace, you will find withered spots. It’s said witches gathered for nighttime celebrations, and as they danced, where their feet touched the ground, the grass would die and never grow back.
“Legends of the spots extend all the way about three miles up the road to Witch Dance Hill. There’s a very deep hollow area underneath the hill that legend says is the original spot where witches would gather before they would go off dancing through the area. It’s on national forest land, and I won’t say there’s nothing growing on the ground, but there are no trees,” Briscoe said.
If you look around, you can find the spots. Some say they have seen wisps of smoke rising from them.
“There are also stories of outlaws that were known to prey on people running the trace. Some outlaws would stomp on the witch spots and curse at the witches. These stories all end with the outlaws coming to a terrible end,” said Briscoe.
And today, whether you believe the tales or not, it’s still a fun place to stop and explore.
“Maybe 100 years ago people were a little more superstitious in their beliefs and would have been a little more concerned about the Witch Dance. But I think now, people really just look at it as a neat story and try to find the spots,” Briscoe said.
The Witch Dance is located at mile post 234 along the Natchez Trace Parkway. There is also a picnic area, campground and 18 mile horse trail. For more information visit, http://www.nps.gov/natr/planyourvisit/horseback-riding.htm.