Mystery of what spooked horses never solved

Published 6:24 pm Wednesday, March 12, 2014

There was a spot on Highway 14 (the old Rutherford Road, named for General Griffith Rutherford who fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain) on the southern edge of Dark Corner where horses would spook.
The reason why has never been ascertained.
The mystery began around midnight one evening in the early teen years of the 20th century. A man who lived on the fringe of the Dark Corner made a trip on horseback to the Glassy Mountain area. When returning home around midnight, his horse spooked, threw him off and ran home without him.
The man’s family and neighbors knew something had happened to him, so they retraced the route they knew he would have taken. A couple of miles below Liberty Methodist Church, in a heavily wooded area, they found him seriously hurt and lying in the middle of the road.
The search party took him to Dr. Thomas E. Morrow’s home for treatment.
When Dr. Morrow asked him what happened, the man replied, “I really don’t know. Something spooked my horse and he tried to run away. I tried to hold him but he threw me.”
From that time forward, horses would not pass the wooded area where he was found without being heavily urged by a whip or spurs. Steady mounts and gentler horses would attempt to run away, even in daylight.
So many people complained that the county supervisor was asked to reroute that portion of the highway.
J.C. Burrell operated a store at the intersection of SC 14 and SC 414, where Liberty Methodist Church stands.
Many local farmers, who frequented his place especially on rainy days, would talk about the area on the old road where horses would spook.
They would all argue for their interpretation of what spooked the horses. Some believed it was a giant timber rattlesnake; others, a bear; still others, a mountain lion.
A few felt something must have been spilled on the shoulders of the road that repelled the horses.
My personal feeling is that a large mountain lion would have been at home in the deep woods.
Many horses can sense their presence even without a tell-tale, fierce cry.  Perhaps that point on the highway was a frequented crossing taken by the giant cat.
Older folks in the corner still remember the aspooking, almost a hundred years later, but the mystery has yet to be solved.

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