"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Monday, July 4, 2022

The Girl in the Boat: A Fourth of July Ghost Story

Wolf Creek Dam and Lake Cumberland

For this year’s Fourth of July post, I’m bypassing the usual tales of homemade firework disasters and botulism in the holiday picnic for something completely different, and even more frightening: a malicious ghost.  The following tale was related by Roberta Simpson Brown and Lonnie E. Brown in their book “Haunted Holidays: Twelve Months of Kentucky Ghosts.”  

The Browns were spending one Fourth of July weekend with friends in a cabin on Lake Cumberland.  Although they enjoyed sitting on the cabin’s porch and looking over the water, they did not swim.  When the lake was created, it flooded farms, houses, and wild landscapes.  They had heard alarming tales of unwary swimmers encountering barbed wire, huge fish, and other such dangerous items.  As it turned out, the lake harbored something even worse than they had imagined.

One afternoon, a family named Jackson, who were renting the cabin next door, came over for a chat.  Their seven-year-old daughter Tiffany asked if she could walk on the beach.  Both parents replied with a vehement “No!”

Mrs. Jackson explained to the Browns that when they were staying at the lake the previous summer, they had a “terrifying experience.”  As the front yard of their cabin was fenced, they allowed Tiffany to play in the yard alone.  The gate was kept locked.

Tiffany began telling her parents that every day around sunset, she saw a little girl alone in a boat on the lake.  When the Jacksons would go to look, they saw nothing.

One day, Tiffany informed them that the boat was bobbing in the water, empty, and the little girl was walking on the beach, gesturing to her.  Tiffany said that the girl wanted her to go in the boat.

Tiffany’s increasingly disturbed parents sternly warned her that she must never do that.  The Jacksons decided they needed to find this girl’s parents and have a serious talk with them.

Late the following day, the Jacksons went out to the front porch to watch the sunset.  Tiffany had already gone out to play.  They were shocked to find that the gate had been unlocked, and Tiffany was gone.  A moment later, they saw their daughter in a boat just off shore.  It was sinking, and the child was screaming for help.  Mr. Jackson dashed to the lake, rescuing the girl just before she went under.

“What on earth were you doing in that boat alone?”  “How did you get through the locked gate?” the horrified parents asked her.

Tiffany replied, “The little girl opened the gate and helped me in the boat.  She said it would be fun, but it wasn’t.”

The next day, Mr. Jackson went in search of the mysterious child’s family.  Nobody knew of any other little girl currently staying at the lake, but a man who ran a bait shop did remember something:  a couple of years back, a family with an eight-year-old girl rented the cabin where the Jacksons were staying.  One night, the girl sneaked out and took their boat out on the lake.  Gusts of wind capsized the boat, and the child drowned.

The Jacksons still had a week left on their rental, and they were loath to let this disturbing information ruin their vacation.  They decided all would be well if they made certain that the gate and the doors of their cabin were kept locked.  They also vowed to never let Tiffany out of their sight.

That night, they awakened to hear Tiffany calling them.  When the Jacksons came to her room, the child was standing by her window, looking into the yard.  Tiffany cried, “She’s back!  She wants me to go with her again.  She says she wants someone to play with.”

Her parents saw no girl in the yard, but they noticed that the gate they had so carefully locked was now open and swinging in the wind.

They brought Tiffany to their room for the rest of the night.  First thing in the morning, they packed and left for home.  The holiday was definitely over.

The Jacksons told the Browns, “This year we rented a different cabin.  So far we haven’t seen anything unusual, but it doesn’t pay to take any chances.”

So ends our Fourth of July cautionary tale.  If you were planning on going sailing today, my apologies for spoiling your holiday.


  1. Yikes! That’s a scary one. It would make a good movie, in the hands of a good director.

  2. Somehow my mind went straight to https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0027653/?ref_=fn_tt_tt_4

  3. zso they went back to the same beach the next year?

    1. In their shoes, I would've switched to Disney World.


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