The Legend of Sale Creek’s Pitty Pat Hollow

Photo at a stop sign, with two street signs cross one another and an empty field + tress behind the road. The horizontal sign reads "Shipley Hollow Rd."
The crossing of Shipley Hollow Road + the old cemetery | Photo via NOOGAtoday

In honor of the Halloweekend, we’re telling a story that one of our readers brought to our attention, and it’s not your usual Annalisa Netherly tale — this is the legend of Shipley Hollow, known by locals as Pitty Pat Hollow.

My mother, who was a Shipley, grew up just off Shipley Hollow Road in the 1920s and 30s. She had always told me of Pitty Pat Hollow…where if you went at night and quietly walked in the dark you would hear “pitty pat pitty pat” of footsteps behind you..only to turn and nobody would be there….” — Bob M.

Legend has it that in the 1800s, a settler woman + her children were travelling via wagon at night through Shipley Hollow. During their journey, something (in some tellings, a cat-like creature) startled the horse and caused the wagon to overturn, killing the mother. The children disappeared into the night, possibly taken by the monster, and were never seen again

Weird occurrences

Residents and travelers soon began to hear strange sounds after dark pitty-pat, pitty-pat, pitty-pat — and odd occurrences have been reported in the area throughout the years.

One example comes from the 1950s, when 2 men driving down Shipley Hollow heard + felt something crash into their car. Upon inspecting the car, however, the 2 men found no evidence of a crash, without even a scratch on the car. They then returned to the road seeking the remains of what hit their car, but found nothing.

Another story tells of a 2004 incident, in which a pair of deer hunters set up in 2 deer stands near Shipley Hollow, and in the midst of communicating via walkie-talkie, static interrupted their messages. One of the hunters then saw something through the trees + felt “an inky shadow” surrounding him and breathing on his neck for 5 full minutes.

This Reddit post features a more recent occurrence, in which the Redditor describes her visit to Shipley Hollow that didn’t end when she left the haunted spot. While she, her boyfriend, and his cousin were there, they heard blood-curdling screams coming from the woods. The post said that something then “followed them home” — they heard voices in her boyfriend’s home after the incident, cabinets would open by themselves + they even hired paranormal investigators when it got bad.

Our experience

City Editor Brianna here, and when I ventured out to take some photos at the spot, I had my very own — though minorspooky experience. On my way to Sale Creek, I turned on the “Broadway Songs to Belt in the Shower” Spotify playlist to calm my nerves. All was going well until I turned onto Shipley Hollow Road — suddenly, the previous song ended and “Dead Mom” from the Beetlejuice musical came on, which I thought creepy considering the original legend. After skipping the song out of uneasiness, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” from Hamilton came on, which I also felt compelled to skip. The next song on the playlist? “Way Down Hadestown,” which spurred me to promptly turn off the music and call my dad.

There are countless other tales from Shipley Hollow, too — from creepy cemetery visits, to rumors of a woman being kidnapped, murdered, and tossed into a well near the cemetery + even ghost sightings on the road. In fact, much of the legend is even documented in Curtis N Coulter’s “A sentimental Journey Down Country Roads.” 

Whether you believe the lore or think it’s a bore, we hope that you have a fun + safe Halloween, Nooga. 🎃