When I was growing up in Burns I heard about “Werewolf Springs” from time to time. It’s an old legend that had been passed down from generation to generation in Dickson County.
The story is usually told whenever a group gathers together at Montgomery Bell State Park for a hike or a camp out.
The “Legend of Werewolf Springs” is Montgomery Bell State Park’s scary story and since it’s October and scary stories are popular this month, I thought I would retell the story for anyone who had never heard it.
The story starts at the end of the Civil War. During the war between the states the railroad was constructed through the south end of Dickson County.
In the years immediately following the war, towns began to pop up all along the railroad tracks. White Bluff Station, Smeedsville Station (Dickson), and Burns Station were railroad depots that were quickly growing into communities.
The railroad was the main source of travel since the automobile didn’t exist yet at this time in history. Tons of people would ride through Dickson County on their way to and from Nashville.
In the late 1860’s a circus had just performed in Nashville and they were heading west to do more shows. Without TV or radio, Circus events were a very popular form of entertainment during this era. The Circus would attract huge crowds with their very unique attractions. They were booked to do shows all over the country.
They boarded the train in Nashville and started heading towards Memphis. As they approached Burns Station there was an accident, the train derailed and tipped over crashing the railroad cars.
It appeared as if everyone was alright, but some of the circus animals that had been locked in cages had escaped. Most of the animals were recovered, some were not.
Two creatures known as the “Wolfmen of Borneo” escaped and were never found again. The remaining Circus performers were gathered together and put on another train. The next day they moved on to the next city.
A few years later two men were traveling through the town of Burns on their way to Nashville. They decided to make a stop to get some water at a spring. (I’ve been told this was Hall Spring located near Hall Cemetery just north of Burns. This area today is located in the southwest corner of Montgomery Bell State Park.)
When the men resumed their journey back to the road, they felt like they were being followed. It appeared as if something or someone in the woods was chasing after them. They began moving faster and faster. Realizing something was after them, they ditched their wagon and both men began running.
The two men split into different directions. What was described as a “Sasquatch” like monster attacked and killed one man, while the second man was able to escape. He ran all the way back to Burns to tell the citizens of the town about this “Werewolf” and what had happened.
News of the Werewolf attack quickly spread through Burns and to the neighboring towns of White Bluff and Smeedsville.
A crowd formed in Burns and the men in town grabbed their guns and other weapons vowing to hunt down to beast to keep their families safe.
The large group took off towards Hall Spring with a plan. They took a goat to use as bait. Their plan was to lure the Werewolf in and shoot it.
The men strategically placed the goat and hid behind trees, ready to shoot. After some time, when it got really dark, the beast approached the goat and the men fired.
But when they lit their lanterns, they saw no goat and no Werewolf. The beast had gotten away, and two more people had been killed during the chaos.
People became afraid of the area, nicknaming it “Werewolf Springs.”
Determined to keep Dickson County safe, the citizens came up with a new plan to kill the Werewolf. They sought out the best big game hunter in the area and gave him the task of killing the beat. The hunter agreed to go after the beast and was given access to a cabin near the spring.
For two days, the hunter went looking for the Werewolf and had no luck. On the third night the hunter finally found the Werewolf near the cabin. He shot at the creature through a cabin window, but missed, even though it appeared to hit the beast. The shot provoked the Werewolf, who then broke through the cabin door, but the hunter was ready. He shot the beast several times. But the bullets didn’t seem the faze the creature and he kept coming at the man.
With little ammo left, including only two bullets in his pistol, it appeared as if the hunter might not make it. Luckily, the sun began coming up and the Werewolf retreated from the cabin, back into the woods.
The hunter survived. It was unclear if the shots killed the Werewolf or not, but no one wanted to go looking for it anymore.
For years locals would talk about seeing the Werewolf but there were never anymore confirmed sightings.
About 75 years after the incident, during the Great Depression, the state of Tennessee bought a large amount of land to build a state park. It opened in the 1940’s and became known as Montgomery Bell State Park. “Werewolf Springs” as it became known over the years, is now located inside the park.
You can access “Werewolf Springs” by taking an 11 Mile overnight hiking trail. Who is brave enough to stay out there?