Monday, December 8, 2014

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 186: Visit Sketoe’s Hole in Dale County

'Sketoe's Hole' in Dale County, Ala. 
As best that I can remember, I was in the fourth grade the first time I ever heard of “Sketoe’s Hole.” Made famous by Kathryn Tucker Windham’s book, “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffery,” this creepy landmark is located on the banks of the Choctawhatchee River, just outside of the Town of Newton in Dale County, Ala. I placed a trip to this unusual spot on my “bucket list” several years ago and officially scratched it off Saturday after a quick trip see it for myself.

If you attempt to see “Sketoe’s Hole” for yourself, it’s easy to find. It’s located in a small park, called the Newton Recreational Park, just off State Highway 123 on the north side of the Choctawhatchee River. If you’re traveling south on State Highway 123 and cross over the Judge Lewis Frank Sessions Bridge and enter the Town of Newton, you’ve gone too far and need to turn around.

For those of you unfamiliar with Sketoe’s Hole, it’s also known as the “Hole That Will Not Stay Filled.” According to Windham’s book, a minister named Bill Sketoe was hung there during the Civil War, and he was so tall that the hangmen had to dig the earth out from under his feet so that his feet wouldn’t touch the ground. Supposedly, for supernatural reasons, after all these years the hole remains unfilled despite efforts to fill it up.

If you visit the Newton Recreation Park today, you’ll see an informational sign near an area that’s been set aside as “Sketoe’s Hole.” The sign reads as follows – 

“The Hanging of Bill Sketoe: Near this site on Dec. 3, 1864 Bill Sketoe, a Methodist minister was hanged by Newton Home Guards who thought that he was a traitor to the Confederacy. In truth, Mr. Sketoe had served three years in the Confederate army and had come home on leave to see his sick wife.

“The home guard hanged him from an oak tree near the old bridge. To keep his feet from touching the ground a hole was dug under them. This mysterious hole remained clean for many years after that sad day. The site is now part of the flood prevention area.

“The original bronze marker was badly damaged and washed down river by the flood of 1990. It may be seen in the Newton museum. The Newton Historical Society.”

The actual site of Sketoe’s hanging is just a short walk from this marker. From what I gather, it’s under tons of rip-rap rock on the north side of the river. There’s a trail from the park down to the river and you pass this rip-rap coming and going. If you decide to go on your own, be careful and watch for snakes.

In the end, how many of you have visited Sketoe’s Hole in Dale County? What did you think about it? What other creepy locations like this one would you recommend checking out? Let us know in the comments section below.

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