Haunts & Hollows

Exploring Safely

Following the path outlined here can take you on an amazing trek to sites you may never otherwise have experienced. As with any journey, however, safety and respect should always be foremost in your mind. Please, be aware that you and you alone are responsible for your own safety and actions. Fortunately, the answer is a simple one:

Be smart. Be safe. Be respectful.

When exploring, be aware of your surroundings and travel with purpose and consideration. Many of the locations detailed in each Haunts & Hollows volume are far off the beaten path. This means you may find yourself traveling in remote areas with poor or no cell phone service and limited pedestrian or vehicular traffic. There can also be issues with nature — from problematic plants (think poison ivy and stinging nettles) to dangerous wildlife (snakes, spiders and larger predators). In nearly every case it is best to explore with a friend (or two) in case of injury or other trouble. Something as simple as a sprained ankle or a dead car battery can be far more dangerous when you’re alone or in an unfamiliar landscape.

In each listing, we attempt to focus on locations that are easily accessible to the public. Keep in mind that even public areas may have posted hours. This is common, for example, in many community cemeteries and graveyards. Always follow these rules and respect the sites you explore. Even if you’re careful, you may wander onto private property, which can expose you to a number of safety and legal issues. If you’re not sure about a spot you intend to visit, it’s always better to ask permission than try to seek forgiveness.

While safety is critical, so too is respect for the locations listed herein. These spots often have personal or ancestral significance to the communities that surround them. Treat them like you would any historic site. Step lightly. Do not take souvenirs. Do not move grave markers or cemetery statuary in any way. Treat local flora and fauna gently. A little respect goes a very long way.

Cemeteries and grave sites—no matter how large or small—should be considered sacred ground and visited with reverence. In many communities, it is considered disrespectful to walk directly over a marked grave. Many older gravestones will also include a smaller foot marker to help you plot your path. Whenever possible, be mindful of the people buried at many of these sites and their families that still survive them.

One last safety consideration: be mindful of local residents. Many are aware of the small family plot located on the public right of way just off the main road. Some may be happy to point you in the direction of yet another, nearby site. Others may be less welcoming. So always treat locals with respect and deference. Daytime travel is always recommended, and noise, lights, vehicles, and other distractions should be kept to an absolute minimum. If you are asked to leave, please do. You will always have a chance to revisit a site at a better time.

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