When I was a teenager in northern Kentucky I heard and repeated many stories that were accepted as truth, but always began as ‘A friend said this happened to her cousin’s big brother’s girlfriend,’ or something to that affect. These tales seem to be similar across the country and are now considered ‘Urban Legends’, another form of storytelling.
One often repeated theme is the ‘Old ghost/crazy woman tale’. My husband knows one called ‘The Old Maid’ and I was told the story of the ‘Old Woman who haunts 3-Mile Road’. It goes like this.
S: There is an abandoned half-burned down farm house that sits in a valley beside a creek along a curvy sparsely populated stretch of Old 3-Mile Road. And of course teenage lovers looking for privacy in their parked cars frequent this lonely piece of road. Sometimes a couple is brave enough or maybe I should say, stupid enough, to pull their car down the dirt road right up to the swinging bridge that leads to the abandoned farmhouse. Now one girl said that she and her boyfriend did just that and barely lived to tell it. She said they saw the ghostly wild woman running at them across the swinging bridge with a pitchfork raised above her head. As they sped up the hill, spinning tires and spewing dirt and rocks, she could see the woman still running behind their car, chasing them.
The story behind the story is this: Years ago a woman, her husband and their infant son lived in the small farmhouse beside the creek. One night there was a fire and the woman grabbed her baby from his burning crib and ran outside with him towards the creek. By the time she got to the water, they both were on fire and she thew the baby in the rushing water and dove in herself to squelch the flames. But when she came up the baby was gone. He had been swept away by the water. It was dark and the woman could not see to find her son. Her own skin was hanging in blisters from her face and arms, but she was oblivious to the pain or to the fact that her husband lay inside burning to death in their bed. She was obsessed with finding her baby, the one she had tossed into the water. And now every night since, she walks along the road, up and down the banks of the creek, stands on the swinging bridge and wades in the water, crying and calling to her baby. No one knows if she is a ghost or a disfigured old woman driven crazy with years of pain and grief. But she is real and many have seen her and heard her eerie cries along that lonely stretch of Old 3-Mile Road.