Ghosts of Ohio
Lore & Legends

Old Raridan

Throughout the world, there are certain areas where, for reasons unknown to man, certain animals go to die. Perhaps the best known are the elephant "graveyards", but there are stories told by the locals of Pike County of an ancient graveyard for gray wolves. Some believe that even today, a giant ghostly wolf known as Old Raridan guards the area.

It seems that as long as people could remember, gray wolves were climbing to the top of the flat-topped granite hill to die. So many of the wolves chose this hill as their final resting place that the area, for obvious reasons, became known as "Great Buzzard’s Rock". Eventually, the name was changed to the less morbid "Big Rock", but that did not stop the gray wolves from making their "death march" to the hill.

While the Native American Indians and early settlers had managed to find a peaceful co-existence with the gray wolves, progress created a problem. As people began pushing their way into the Ohio Valley, wolf attacks on livestock became more and more frequent. Eventually, farmers began to take matters into their own hands and started hunting down the gray wolves from the area. The wolves were hunted mercilessly and with reckless abandon. Some say the wolves were brought to the edge of extinction.

But there was one wolf in particular that always managed to escape the wrath of the farmers; an enormous gray wolf that came to be known as Old Raridan. Farmers often reported seeing Old Raridan and his mate wandering through the woods but were always unable to corner the magnificent beast. Over the next few years, it is said that farmers continued to slaughter the gray wolves at such a rate that the area known as Big Rock was literally covered with bones. Eventually, only two remained; Old Raridan and his mate.

The fact that is seemed almost impossible to kill Old Raridan brought forth rumors of the wolf possessing supernatural powers. It is said that even the local ministers began to pray for the wolf’s demise. Eventually, a group of hunters managed to corner Old Raridan’s mate at the base of Big Rock. Under a barrage of heavy gunfire, the female gray wolf fell to the ground. But just as hunters set their dogs loose to finish the wolf off, the loud cry of a wolf echoed through the woods. In an instant, Old Raridan leapt in front of the dogs and began fighting them off. The hunters opened fire and mortally wounded Old Raridan. Yet despite his wounds, the gray wolf continued to defend his mate, eventually forcing the hunters to call off their dogs and fall back.

The battle over, the hunters watched from a safe distance as Old Raridan, bleeding profusely, dragged the still body of his mate up to the top of Big Rock. Once there, Old Raridan let out a thunderous cry and fell down beside his mate. Then all was quiet.

But the area would not remain quiet. For even today, locals swear that on dark, moonless nights, the woods around the area known as Big Rock shake from the sound of a thunderous wolf cry. They also say that if one ventures too close to the top of Big Rock, they will find themselves face-to-face with the ghost of Old Raridan, still standing guard over the area he once roamed.

© The Ghosts of Ohio