Creepy Sightings in the Francis Marion Forest

Step into an alternate dimension.


About a year ago, in the midst of a personal crisis, I Henry David Thoreau’d myself and drove into the woods in an attempt to solve my problems. I can confidently report at this time that no, it did not work, but I saw something that day, I had two experiences there that have stuck with me since. 

First, imagine a long, straight road through the woods, two lanes, with very few cars on it. Maybe you pass one every 10 minutes or so. This is the state of most of the Francis Marion National Forest (from the main roads at least).

Now imagine, coming across an intersection. The intersection of Steed Creek Road and Halfway Creek Road, to be exact. In the middle of the road, a pair of shoes. There’s no one on the road around you. So why not stop and investigate? They’re just plain black tennis shoes, and oh wait, what a coincidence, the shoes are your size. You decide to take them. It’s not like anyone’s gonna come looking for them here in the middle of the road. 

A little later, you stop to take a picture of a cool sign. This sign to be exact:

Oh no, your phone died taking those pictures. You walk around to the other side of it and see a tree with a sort of mound around it. Okay weird, you go in closer to inspect it. 

The mound is made of shoes. Pairs and pairs of shoes. Shoes of all sizes but mostly women and children’s shoes. Or at least there were a lot of pink and purple ones, with the occasional brown leather and men’s bowling shoes as well. A hearty variety, really. Most of them also had a rolled-up pair of socks tucked inside as well. None were brand new or in pristine condition, they were half-covered with dirt and weeds and other shoes. I would say the mound was no larger than 3×3 feet, but that’s well beyond the threshold for a creepy amount of unidentified shoes. 

Needless to say, I was shaken. Having no way to document this thanks to my dead iPhone 6, I don’t expect you to believe me. Frankly, I don’t need the validation, but also, I only hope that by the end of this article you will at least believe in the possibility that this exists. Here’s why:

A big ole bear havin a rough day.









The Francis Marion is weird. Though I have only explored probably less than 5% of its 258,864 acres, I feel qualified enough to form this judgment. If less this small of a portion of the forest is as bizarre as what I have observed, then surely there are only more mysteries to be discovered. 

This past weekend, I reentered its boundaries in search of the pile of shoes. I returned to the sign, and though I was unable to rediscover the pile (either disappeared into thin air or a poor sense of direction on my part. You decide.) I found another, possibly more concerning oddity. 









Anatomy kids will be able to identify these as the humerus bone. They appear very similar in fact to the human humerus bone models in Mr. McCormick’s room, though I am no forensic investigator. Four of them were laying unassumingly on the post. 

Nearly all of the signs in the Francis Marion emit less than welcoming vibes to be quite honest. From the bullet holes to their awkward angles and even the signs that have nothing on them, its all very unusual, but frankly, I like it. The casual anarchy makes me feel much more at-home than the nearby Mount Pleasant (gag). 

I’ll give props to Charleston County, though. The forest is spread across Charleston and Berkeley Counties and in terms of the quality of roads, there is a CLEAR winner. Berkeley County’s road work is horrendous. Not only are there potholes, but the fast succession of their appearance is sufficient enough to RUIN your car’s shocks in less than 5 miles. One convenience of the potholes though? Instant roadkill burial sites. Once when bracing myself to feel the jolt of a pothole, I was pleasantly surprised to feel no such drop. My satisfaction was short-lived, however. While driving back by, I realized the hole was, in fact, the final resting place of a raccoon, effectively filling it in. That’s one way to do road maintenance, I guess.

The exits off of the road are not much better but granted, they are dirt roads. My Ford Fusion (which sits 6 inches off the ground), however, could not quite handle the heat. More concerning than the paths themselves are their names. Tell me that “Farewell Corner” doesn’t sound like the cliff that all the local kids are afraid to go at night in an 80s movie. 


Further, I was intrigued by one sign that promised an Apple Field. Was I surprised when it was actually a cemetery? Not really at this point. 

Another misleading sign indicated that the following section of road was an ATV crossing. Though on another post, however, not even 10 feet away, it bans the use of ATVs. 

As I was further exploring the roads, I turned onto a road I had never been down before. After about 5 minutes of driving through the same type of greenery and foliage than I had been all day, a clearing appeared. Immediately, I saw the strangest thing I had so far that day: a crumbling church that appeared completely abandoned, yet was still surrounded by a functioning, well-maintained cemetery. 

Different sides of the building

It was easily accessible, no trespassing involved even, laying behind only a chain-linked fence. I would have gone inside if the floor wasn’t so obviously structurally compromised. The inside was a mix of anarchist graffiti and relics from whenever the church was functioning, I guess. Shattered glass was dispersed around the perimeter and nearly every wall was crumbling in some way. Inside, the drywall had mysterious scratches and the ceilings were dotted with abandoned (I hope) wasps nests. 


The interior of the chapel.









My favorite thing that I saw there, however, wasn’t inside the gates at all. It was an artificial bouquet laying nearly in the ditch on the other side of the road. The deceased should at least appreciate the effort, as clearly someone cared about them enough to bring flowers, but not enough to land them on the right side of the street. I imagine they threw them from their car while passing by. 

Another interesting detail I thought would be relevant to note: a few days later I returned to the church with a friend, and the door that was originally in the main room of the church, appeared to have been ripped out, and was now lying outside on the ground. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the creepiness of the whole ordeal and hope to soon return at night for some spooky fun. I encourage others to visit it too, as well as the rest of the Francis Marion. Not only will you have one of the best adventures available in Charleston, but you will be supporting the state parks, who are always happy to have visitors.