Who doesn’t love a good spooky story, especially around Halloween? If local TikTok creator Joshua Dairen’s follower count is any indication, there are plenty of people with a taste for the paranormal. Dairen first started uploading videos about Alabama urban legends this past June. Since then, his page has gained over 83,000 followers and his content has amassed over a million likes.
The Auburn native says he didn’t originally start his TikTok channel with the intention of talking about paranormal content. However, with his personal interest in the supernatural, Dairen realized he had a niche in social media that no one else was covering.
“I started doing research and I thought, ‘Wow, no one often covers any urban legends in Alabama,'” he said. “Nobody took the time to sit down and say, ‘OK, here’s the story, here’s the facts, here’s the historical people associated with this.’
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When Dairen began uploading daily content about paranormal activity from around the state, his site exploded.
“It was completely unexpected,” he says of the explosive interest in his content. “It just shot up. I think the algorithm really prioritized it, so I can’t complain.”
Halloween is right around the corner and Dairen shares his favorite paranormal stories from around Alabama.
Journey to the ghost town
“Ghost Town Road is one that has been around for a long time,” Dairen said. “If you walk this road at night, something will happen.
Dairen said the story of Ghost Town Road, which is near Salem, begins with Eli Stroud Cemetery. The road connects to a cemetery and people are said to have seen Stroud’s ghost in the area.
Stroud was a pioneer who lived from 1789 to 1891. He was known to have fought with the Aborigines and his wife and daughter were killed during the Ogly Massacre in 1818.
“People there saw his apparitions,” Dairen said of Stroud. “They saw a man who was allegedly beheaded on that road as well. They see children, they saw orbs, they saw people in black robes. Allegedly they saw a lot of things on that trip along with a place called Archer Rock which is known to have rituals as well. They have also found tons of animal carcasses over the years. Radios are known to break down there. It’s just spring. It’s everything you want in a ghost story.”
Bear Creek Swamp
“Bear Creek Swamp is probably one of the scariest in the state just because of how much activity it actually has and how much confirmed activity I’ve seen from other people,” Dairen said.
Bear Creek Swamp is located in Autauga County, between Prattville and Autaugaville. According to Dairen, the area is ripe for sightings of four-foot apparitions jumping out of cars, ghosts looking for babies and Native American warriors appearing in the swamp.
“People said they went out on the road and said ‘I have your baby,’ three times, and they heard laughter coming from the woods, they heard screams coming from the woods,” Dairen said. “They heard what sounded like someone walking through the woods or running through the woods to a car. They saw an apparition of soldiers there. They saw an apparition of settlers there. And they also saw what they describe as native warriors out there.’
Additionally, in 2014, the spookiness of the area became even more palpable when more than 20 children’s dolls tied to bamboo shoots were found in a swamp next to County Road 3. The Autauga County Sheriff’s Office thought it was a Halloween prank.
“It’s basically a mountain full of graveyards,” Dairen said of his next choice. “It has so many cemeteries and people say there’s a bit of occult activity going on here.”
Cemetery Mountain is located near Munford and according to Dairen, the place is full of paranormal activity. There are stories of a dog spirit, red eyes hovering just above ground level, among others.
“A couple of hunters went out there and accidentally killed a man’s dog,” he said. “And so the man died shortly afterwards. The same group of hunters returned a moment later and a dog came up to him, followed shortly by a man who said, “Hey, did you see my dog?” and they disappeared. This apparition of a ghost-man and a ghost-dog is often seen.”
“Sloss Furnace must be on the list,” Dairen said. “It is known to be one of the most nationally recognized haunted places in the country. Nine times out of 10, if Alabama makes a haunted roster, it’s probably because of Sloss.”
Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham is an old pig iron blast furnace. The Sloss is now considered a National Historic Landmark and is open to visitors.
“People just said there was dark activity that was just there. People are scratching, pushing, seeing the foreman and having disembodied voices telling them to get out,” Dairen said.
“It’s also one of those places where you go and you just have the atmosphere,” he adds. “People were seeing apparitions of all kinds, shadowy figures, and they just never felt so great when they were in that area. So it’s that feeling of fear.”
The lady in black
“The lady in black is a pretty well-known story, especially in Prattville, and it goes back to when Prattville was founded,” Dairen said.
Daniel Pratt founded Prattville on the banks of the Autauga River as a means of powering his cotton and manufacturing facilities. According to Dairen, young children were known to work in the factory.
“A boy named Willie Youngblood actually fell down an elevator shaft and lost his life,” Dairen said. “His mother was said to be grief-stricken for at least a year or so.
According to Dairen, the mother eventually came to Prattville, jumped the dam and died.
“From that point on, there were just hundreds and hundreds of reports of seeing a lady in black on the property,” Dairen said. “To the point where 50 factory workers all at once said they saw her in the factory.”
Darien said the ghost of Willie Youngblood has also been seen in the old factory.
“It’s not necessarily scary because of the experience, but it’s scarier that so many people said, ‘I 100 percent saw this lady in black walking around this factory,'” Dairen said.
Dairen’s TikTok handle is @joshuadaren.