Ghosts of Indiana: Greenwood's Devil's Backbone


The annals of our world are filled with unexplainable, often terrifying stories.

There are the famous tales that have been passed down through generations. You know these tales: Bloody Mary appears in a mirror. Civil War spectres linger on the foggy fields of Gettysburg. Abraham Lincoln's ghost appears at the White House in the Lincoln bedroom.

Here in Indiana, there are well-known accounts of ghosts in places like the Hannah House and French Lick Springs Hotel.

But some of the scariest, most chilling ghost stories come from the people you pass on the sidewalk every day. They may be your neighbor, your friend, your grandmother.

Or, even worse, they may be the previous owner of your new home, and the stories they could tell you of that seemingly charming SoBro craftsman could chill your spine and send you packing.

We reached out to the people of Indy to send us the spookiest, most unnerving stories they have experienced firsthand in Indianapolis ­— and let's just say the NUVO staff hasn't been sleeping so well over the past month or so.

Ready? Reader, beware. You're in for a scare.

Happy Halloween. ­— Cavan McGinsie

Greenwood's Devil's Backbone
Just west of the Greenwood Cemetery rested one of the most unique natural land formations in town. The ground between Pleasant Run Creek and a natural swimming hole was said by many to take the shape of the devil's backbone. The name stuck, and in a time that predated any community pool by decades, the Devil's Backbone swimming hole became a common place for youths of the area to go swimming.

Specifically, skinny dipping.

When this news got out, as well as how often alcohol accompanied these teenage frolics, girls were forbidden from going anywhere near. Of course, as teens for generations have done, having rules and being forbidden to do many things were simply obstacles to get around.

Such was the case on a late summer night near the turn of the century. For whatever reason, a 15-year-old female swimmer named Sarah found herself in trouble and ultimately drowned.

After a great deal of mourning, the town responded by filling in the swimming hole with much of the earth that made up the distinctive shape of the Devil's Backbone.

While the swimming hole is no longer there, the creek that ran beside it still runs freely. One can see where the Devil's Backbone used to rise so high, and while it is now only about four feet tall, visitors can still easily make out the distinguishable shape.

... And at night with the moon high in the sky, and the rush of the stream off to the left, many claim they still hear the cries of the drowning girl and the panicked screams of her friends' failed attempt to save her.

Want to visit?

Head to Westside Park just off Main Street in Greenwood. The site itself is incredibly easy to access thanks to a park road in Westside Park. Brave visitors can enter from Main Street and take the park road all the way to the back of the park. Once on foot and with the creek and footbridge off to your left, climb over the stockade fence, and you will easily be able to make out the Backbone in front of you. Although now hidden by a tree line, the cemetery is still there too, just east of this very strange place.

— Leigh Evans

Don't miss the next story in this series, The Irvington Babysitter; and feel free to send us your local ghost stories to, we will be posting stories as they come in until Halloween.

Other Ghost Stories:
The Attic Apparition
The Spirit in Speedway
The Murat's Mysterious Maintenance Man


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