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Valley of Shadows

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Valley of Shadows

Fact or Fiction, Part 2

I’ve previously reported on ghostly and other phenomena in the Cocolalla and Careywood areas. Here are a number of brief encounters expanding on the whispered stories which sound like Fact, at least from the realm of folklore.


In the 90s, a hiker/camper in the Blacktail area woke one night about the stroke of twelve and got up to relieve himself. It was a bright, starry night with a three-quarter moon so the man could easily walk around unaided by a flashlight. Stepping a few feet from his small tent, he spotted what appeared to be the silhouette of a man about fifty feet away. Thinking it was a lost hiker he hailed him. The figure turned and a dim gray/orange glow briefly emanated from his face, then he vanished all together.


The witness couldn’t make out much detail but he thought the figure was of a fairly large young man wearing very dated clothing, like from the early 20th century; some type of uniform? Could the phantom have been a firefighter from the great fire of 1910?


Next, a fisherman, having spent the late afternoon and early evening fishing in Cocolalla Creek, decided to pack it in and head home with his three bass and several nice perch when in the gloom of twilight he saw what he took to be another angler about forty feet down the bank, whom he hadn’t noticed arrive.


The newcomer didn’t have a fishing pole, and was standing looking into the water. When the fisherman hailed the new arrival, the other looked up suddenly, then vanished in the wink of an eye. Shaken, the fisherman quickly gathered his gear and headed back to his pickup. The one detail he had noted was that while the ghostly figure was all in shadow, what little light there was had briefly glinted off what appeared to be something shiny on the specter’s left breast... like a badge.


The following account reminds me of the column I did back in June of ‘08: “N. Idaho, the flesh and a little devil.” A young family who had moved into an older house not far from US 95 in Careywood, who had been driven out shortly thereafter by the visitation of an Imp from the netherworld.


This account was gathered in bits and pieces and concerns three brothers, ages 10, 11 and 12 years old at the time.


First, the oldest began seeing shadows in his room at about the time that the boys’ parents had begun adding an addition to the home. Each boy confided in the others that usually, when alone, they would see a gray face, as if that of a dead person, peering in through a window, once when the oldest, James, was doing the dishes.


Their father worked construction and would often be away for several days a week. During the summer, the boys would help their mother with chores and the vegetable garden. In between these activities, they would play the usual games, often exploring into the woods near the house.


But when either was alone, he would hear voices just within earshot, as if coming from behind a tree or a thicket of brush twenty feet away, though no one would ever be there.


In the house, doors and curtains would open and close by themselves, and closets were rearranged. Footsteps both indoors and outside seemed to follow them, again when one of the boys would be alone.
One day, James elected to stay home when his mother and brothers went into Sandpoint for groceries and soon came to regret the decision. Getting a soda out of the refridgerator, a shadow suddenly appeared right beside him as he closed the door. Behind the image was a reflection of it in the hutch, ten feet away in the dining room. Startled, he dropped the can, fortunately unopened, and the shadow disappeared.


Some time before his family came home James sat at the kitchen table, eyeing the room as if it would bite him. Outside the sky had grown overcast, and a wind had sprung up.


There was a scratching at the outside wall, then a thump. Getting up he heard the family dog barking at a board that had been leaning against the side of the house that was now laying on the ground several feet away. Then a male adult voice from near the front door called his name: “James.” Thinking his father had unexpectedly come home, he hurried gratefully out of the kitchen to find the living room empty.


The hairs on his neck stood up in a chill when he heard the back door open. Not taking anything for granted, James cautiously poked his head around the doorway in time to see his mother struggling with three grocery bags. “James, come here and help me.”


James graduated high school six years later and went to college while his parents and brothers continued to live in the house until the two youngest were out on their own. The occurrences gradually faded away as the boys got older. Could their experiences have been a poltergeist generated by the boys themselves?
Neither parent saw or experienced anything unusual from what I’ve been able to gather.

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Author info

Lawrence Fury Lawrence Fury is an inveterate letter-to-the-editor writer, and a conservative conscience for this area of North Idaho. He's also an expert on local ghost stories, and is compiling a group of them for future book publication. You can read more about him in a Love Notes feature for the River Journal

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