During our recent time of Pandemic crisis and quarantine, a resurgence of camping and outdoor activities started across our great country. While I was taken up with this fascination, I began my own research of exciting parks for the kids, with a dose of my favorite, eerie history, and lore that that would entice a legend hunter. That is around the time author and storyteller Steve Stockton released his first volume of National Park: Mysteries and Disappearances (The Great Smokey Mountain National Park). I found myself thinking that this could be synchronicity.
Steve Stockton is most notable for his book series Strange Things In The Woods, a collection of terrifying stories that have unleashed a slew of new stories behind the attractions and mysteries of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. He uses his old-time method of storytelling to create this collection of mysteries, haunts, and disappearances of the most visited national parks in the United States. Underneath the majestic forest, expansive nature trails, and daunting high cliffs lies a web of tangled history and folklore that cast an ominous shadow on this vacation getaway.
I have always appreciated Steve’s writing style. It is written for a very broad age range. Though some of the stories can be graphic in nature, this would have been the type of book I would have picked up when I was in my teenage years being fascinated with strange events and ghost stories. Steve sets the Great Smokey Mountains stage as Bermuda Triangle of strange events. With over 50 planes crashes and numerous missing persons, it is no wonder Steve would choose that comparison. My favorite part of the book is the stories of the possible existence of wild people living secluded, deep in the mountains, untouched or even unaware of modern civilization. Another is the Cherokee legends of small child-like people that are said to inhabit The Smokies and only seen by humans when they express aggravation when Modern Man disrespects their environment.
Steve also presents the touristy side of the Smokies that are just as ominous and dark. Hotels, resort, and lodges find their way into the mysteries of this vacationer paradise with tales of ghostly apparitions from a gruesome murder or suicide. One tale is of a manager of a stage production, haunting show that passed away at work one night, only to be found by his staff the next day and is said to have become part of the attraction he once managed. With these stories, Steve gives the reader information on each location, including street addresses, directions, phone numbers, and haunted tour groups. I found myself plugging this information into web searches to see pictures of the locations and available rates.
In classic Steve Stockton tradition, I find the stories worthy of a good campfire to read out loud or to yourself. If you get the opportunity to listen to Steve read his stories, I highly recommend it. His Southern draw takes me back to when I was a child hearing the old cowboys tell their stories. Like his previous publishing, I have enjoyed this book. Volume 2 is set to release later this Summer 2021, and it will focus on the West coast, with national parks of California (Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and Mount Shasta). I am looking forward to it.