If you ever go to Charlottesville, Virginia there are a few things you should know. Number one- don’t say anything bad about the University of Virginia. But, they did expel Edgar Allen Poe for gambling and then had the audacity to preserve his old room as a memorial to the poet (you can’t have it both ways UVA). Secondly, Rio Road is pronounced “Rye-oh Road” even though in actuality it is Route 10 (R10). Years ago sign makers changed Route 10 to a more simplified “R10” thus creating this mispronounced confusion. And finally, don’t walk the road to the Dunlora Mansion alone at night.
It’s a ghost story you won’t find in any books or corroborated by any newspaper, but everyone in town knows it, many swearing it’s true. The Dunlora Mansion is one of the oldest homes in Charlottesville. It lies at the end of a long dirt road deep in the woods. In 1900, the mansion was passed to a woman many people believed to be a witch. Back in the 1920’s, the woods behind the home were the perfect place for camping. They were public land, but the witchy rumors about the mansion’s new owners made many people leery of spending the night nearby. Those who did dare to camp in the woods near the mansion were very careful not to cross onto the property.
One summer, six Boy Scouts and their Scout Leader were camping in the woods near the mansion. It was the first outing for their leader who was not all that familiar with the woods or the witchcraft rumors. Unbeknownst to anyone in the party, the group had crossed on to the Dunlora Mansion property. After dinner, the scouts and their leader retired to their tents for the evening. During the night, the Scout Leader was awoken by strange sounds coming from one of the tents. Thinking the scouts were just goofing off instead of sleeping, the Scout Leader went to reprimand them.
After noticing their tent flaps were open, the Scout Leader discovered that all of the scouts were gone. Believing that they had wandered off, the Scout Leader screamed their names only to be answered by silence. Panicked, he walked through the woods until he saw a single light in the distance. Walking towards the light, he again screamed the names of his missing scouts, but still heard no reply. The Scout Leader emerged from the woods to find the source of the light- a single candle burning in the window of the Dunlora Mansion.
The Scout Leader walked onto the front porch and saw that the front door was open. He stepped in the shouted for his campers, but received no reply. Walking inside the mansion, he saw that it was covered in dust and cobwebs as though it had been unlived in for centuries. The furniture seemed as old as the mansion itself. It was a perfectly persevered museum with the exception of the webs and dust. He called out for the scouts one last time- still no answer.
Deciding to continue his search in the woods, the Scout Leader turned to leave. It was then that he heard the door to the cellar creek open. At first unsure of whether or not to investigate, the Scout Leader was ready to leave until he heard a child’s voice coming from below.
He walked the old wooden stairs down to the cellar. The room was a wide open empty space ending in cinder block on all four sides. The Scout Leader shined his flashlight around the room but saw no one. He dropped the flashlight down towards the ground. That’s where he saw a Boy Scout hat lying on the dirt floor. A noise behind him made him turn suddenly. His flashlight stopped on the face of the old witch standing front of him, inches from his face. She had a wicked smile, her sharp yellow teeth glistening before him. The Scout Leader let out a scream before running back up the stairs and out of the house.
He ran on the dirt road away from the mansion. Whenever he looked back, he could see the glowing eyes of the witch getting closer. He turned back around to run, that’s when he saw his six scouts. They stood in a row, their dead eyes fixated on him. All six had had their stomachs slit open, their guts pouring out of their bodies and spilling on to the dirt road. They made no attempt to move. They just stood there looking at their Scout Leader. Growing increasingly terrified and dizzy, the Scout Leader eventually passed out from fear.
When the scouts had not returned home the next morning, the police went out looking for them. A police car came to a stop on the dirt road. Lying in their path was the Scout Leader. When they went to check on him, they found that his mind had been broken. He uttered strange phrases about his disemboweled scouts and the witch, none of which the police could understand. They placed him in their car as they went to look for the missing scouts. It didn’t take long before they stumbled upon the camp site. Looking inside the tents, the police saw that all of the scouts had been disemboweled with their bodies still resting on top of their sleeping bags. As they investigated further they saw the half burned remains of their guts still smoldering in the fire. Next to the fire, sticking out of a log was the Scout Leader’s own bloody knife.
The Scout Leader was immediately arrested for murdering the six scouts. Finding him clearly insane, he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in an asylum. As strange as all this was, it is still not as strange as what happened one month after the incident. Seven full grown trees had suddenly appeared along the road leading up to the mansion. At the end of the new tall straight trees, there is one twisted and crooked tree. To this day, those seven trees still stand along the side of the road. The locals believe that the souls of those seven scouts are still trapped in each of those trees. They also believe that the seventh tree holds the tortured and twisted mind of the Scout Leader who fell victim to the witch at Dunlora Mansion.