Take one look at this photo by the famous photographer Tim Ernst and you’ll know why I say legends live on in the Ozarks Mountains. It’s a place of magic and mystery, where ties run deep and stories and superstitions can linger for generations.
One such story is The Lady of the Valley, recounted in the book Ozark Tales and Superstitions by the late Phillip W. Steele. (You can get a copy online at IndieBound or Amazon or at the Eureka Springs Historical Museum.) As the story is told:
A few years before he was married Jess Mcelhaney was returning home from an evening spent in the old town of Aurora. After being startled by an opossum scurrying across the road, Jess saw a bright light appear a few yards away; he stopped and gazed at it with an almost hypnotic stare. Within the bright halo of light he saw the figure of a young woman. She was dressed in a white dress and wore dark stockings. Her hair hung to her waist, and she was the most beautiful lady he had ever seen–or ever would see. The lady was not carrying a lantern, yet she appeared to be completely encircled by light. Jess also recalls how he thought it most odd that his figure cast a shadow beneath the full moon but hers did not.
….During the past fifty years many other citizens of the area say they have had a glimpse of the beautiful lady in the valley. Most believe she rises at rare intervals from the old Aurora graveyard at the head of the valley and walks from there through the meadow. It is said that she only rises on warm nights when the moon is in its fullest stage.
This story and other Ozark tales are included in my series, which is set in the high Ozarks. In Book 2 of the series (due out later this year), you’ll learn about the ghosts of Eureka Spring’s Crescent Hotel (considered by many to be one of the most haunted hotels in the country), the Monster of Peter Bottom Cave, the Devil’s Teakettle, and more.
What a gorgeous photo! I get a view like that sometimes from the Groundhog Mtn lookout along the Parkway (milepost 186 or so). And thanks for the eerie tale. Can’t wait for the next book.
Tim is a remarkable photographer, isn’t he? I wish I could go out with him on an overnight photo shoot, even if only to watch him work. Thanks for commenting, Sue!