Saturday, April 21, 2012

A-Z Challenge - S is for Snakes and Swinging Bridges

This beauty is less than a mile from my house (as the crow flies). All through this part of western North Carolina you find swinging bridges joining neighbors from county to county, remote to a little less remote. This particular swinging bridge allowed neighbors on the west side of the river access to the east side of the river and the train siding.

You see, before it become a Methodist parsonage, this house on the rock was the station agent's home and the station itself. But there's an old tale around these parts that I imagine happened right here.

A young couple, newly married, made their way to the mountains. They found a fine flat rock to be the foundation for their new home. In that rock was a hole, the perfect spot to set the fire place, for the ashes could be swept away. The neighbors came and raised the walls, adding a tight roof, and a glorious front porch. The newlyweds were in their home just as the first snow began to fall. The husband, a stout fine lad, banked up the fire and they took to their wedding bed.

In the night, the wife woke and heard the oddest sounds. Scrapings and slidings, but it was dark and her new husband slept soundly, not waking when she tugged on his sleeve. The wife, scared witless, lay awake until dawn broke the windows. At first light, her scream was heard for miles around. For, you see, that hole was a copperhead den and in the night with the warmth of the coals, they came to life, their venom striking the husband dead.

John Ehle writes about this story in his novel, The Land Breakers, but I've heard it from other sources and my hunch is it's a tale as old as these hills themselves. I've made good use of it, telling it round bonfires to my children's friends, then dragging them down here in the light of day to show them "The Snake House." 

Do you like telling scary stories round a campfire?
And as a note - This Saturday I'm attending a SCBWI master workshop with Cheryl Klein and won't be responding until Sunday - Just know I love your comments!


  1. Thanks for commenting on my Shepherdstown blog at Main Street Arts.

    I used to live in North Carolina, and could swear I"ve been on that bridge. Is it near Brevard? My wife taught at Brevard Music Center.

    Love the copperhead story!

    S is for Shepherdstown at Main Street Arts!

  2. I'd walk miles to get to cross a bridge like that.

    And the snake story is great. Wonderful for a campfire ;)

  3. That is a great story, a perfect campfire tale.

    And I love those bridges, though I don't know if I'd have the nerve to cross if they were very high. Do they swing much when you cross them?

  4. I love walking bridges. Not a huge fan of the enormous driving ones. We have covered bridges near my house and I use to take the long way to work just to cross one.

  5. Yikes, that's a scary story!
    And I'm not a fan of swinging bridges. I once crossed the Capilano Bridge near Vancouver (200feet above a gorge), just to say I'd done it, but I was so scared the whole time. My brain told mje it was quite safe, my nerves said the opposite!

  6. Wonderful and sad story. I do love telling stories around the campfire. I'll have to tuck this one away for our next bonfire. Thanks again for another beautiful post. I'm just about ready to move to North Carolina!

  7. Scary and sad, but yes, perfect for the campfire. I wonder if every locale has its own such stories.

    Enjoy that conference! I heard CK on plot last fall, and it was excellent.

  8. Great post, beautiful glad to have connected with you during the A-Z challenge.

  9. Oh, no! Struck dead? Didn't they investigate that hole? Love this, will have to tell my granddaughters about it the next camp out in their backyard. It will send them screaming into the home, and I can reclaim my spot on the air mattress.

  10. Scary, sad and....I will be sure to check out any holes before building my next house.

    Happy A-Z Saturday!

  11. I don't see many swinging bridges anymore. Great story!

  12. Wow, I have never seen a bridge like that one! Intense!

  13. Oh Jaye, I was aghast at the thought of copperheads; UGH! see plenty of them around and ugh!!!
    Yes, I love campfires and rasting marshmallows and hearing stories. The swinging bridge is magnificent!

  14. Love campfire stories :)
    #130 following


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