One of my high school students reminded me of my connection to a mysterious little place called Devil’s Gap. Apparently he lived close by for a number of years, so he was excited to learn that I pass that way every Friday. In fact, my family has traveled through the gap for many generations.
Devil’s Gap is really just a normal highway with an elusive, ghostly history where rumors abound and facts are few.
Native stories tell of spirit-like beings that frighten people foolish enough to stop in the gap by night. When I was a child, I overheard my yaya Bessie whisper about a chilling encounter with a shadow being near the edge of the old highway. For whatever reason, they stopped to rest near the gap when the creature approached the vehicle from behind. The hair on her neck stood upright as she jumped into the car and hollered at her son to “get the hell out.”
Other stories add to the sense of mystery. My student heard rumors of satanic rituals performed by early settlers in the region. He also spoke of an old Cold War era missile silo burrowed into a nearby hilltop.
This afternoon, I stopped to photograph Devil’s Gap on my way to Wellpinit while the sun still cast a warm glow over the rocks and dispelled any fears. But as I took my pictures, a sound like thunder or rattling sheet metal rumbled from the cliff wall. I searched the sky for signs of rainclouds, but found nothing. The strange sound thundered three more times before I finally decided to leave. I don’t necessarily believe all the rumors, but why stick around to find out?