ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Ghost of Rich Mountain, Arkansas
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Ghost of Rich Mountain, Arkansas
Broken and Faded Memory
Many of the surviving
tombstones at the Rich
Mountain Pioneer Cemetery
are broken and faded. Almost
reclaimed by the forest, the
little cemetery is a reminder of
the tough and determined
people who once made lives
for themselves on the
Ghost of Rich Mountain - Ouachita National Forest, Arkansas
Rich Mountain Pioneer Cemetery
Established by the families that once lived on the
mountain, the little cemetery is the focus of an
Arkansas ghost legend.
A Legend from Early Arkansas
On the Talimena Drive just west of Queen
Wilhelmina State Park in Arkansas, an
interpretive sign points down a short trail to
the historic Rich Mountain Pioneer Cemetery.

The little cemetery is the focus of a legend
that preserves the memory of a tragic event
that befell a family of early Arkansas settlers.

At the time of the Civil War, a few families of
hard luck settlers began trying to scratch a
living from the thin soil along the rocky crest
of Rich Mountain. Some of these people
undoubtedly were refugees from the war.
They came to the secluded mountain top to
escape the ravages and raids that were
taking place in the valleys below. Others may
have been “Mountain Feds,” Union
sympathizing Arkansans who fled into the
mountains to avoid being forced to serve in
the Confederate army.

The war years were hard times and the
families atop the mountain barely survived,
especially during the winter months. It was
during one of these brutal winters that a
strong storm swept in from Oklahoma and
blanketed the Ouachita ridges in ice and

Among the people living on Rich Mountain
were a mother, her teenage daughter and
several smaller children. The legend does
not record where the father of the family was
that winter, but he may have been fighting in
the war. Regardless, he was away and the
mother was severely ill with a high fever.

The family was in desperate need of water,
so the oldest daughter headed out into the
storm trying to reach a nearby spring. She
never returned.
Cornered by wolves, she was forced to take
refuge in a tree. Her body was found frozen
stiff in the tree where she had taken shelter.

The young girl was buried in the small
cemetery on the slope of Rich Mountain. Over
the years, however, local residents claimed
to sometimes see her spirit in the graveyard.
Strange lights were often seen in the trees.

When the area was absorbed by the
Ouachita National Forest, the last of the
families moved off the top of the mountain.
Their little cemetery is just west of Queen
Wilhelmina State Park.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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