The Cursed Forest of Georgia
Nestled in the mountains north of Atlanta is the small town of Dawsonville, Georgia. The locals here go about their business farming and working your typical jobs of a small town, such as the dive diner known as the “Pool Room.” This is where you will hear numerous people talk of the horrors and mysteries in their own backyard.
Just a short trip south from here, off Interstate 19, is Dawson Forest Road. Travel down this twisting, turning, and wooded road, and you will arrive at the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area.
A seemingly innocent and beautiful part, it is — full of horses, fishermen, and all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts. But like the beautiful cover of a tragic horror novel, these looks are deceiving, and had a past as murky and deep as the Etowah river that flows through it.
Before we jump into our main story, let us take a look at its origins.
Starting in the early days of settlements in America, these hills and caves were sacred, and home to the native people…until they were slaughtered and run out by settlers so they might mine the copper-rich hills. As they were driven from their homes, the strong natives cursed their very land, so the spirits may have their revenge…and it worked.
Settlers and miners lived quite a nice life in these woods, but the curse came through strong. Numerous sicknesses and deaths plagued any and all who entered. Even frequent mine collapses weren't enough to keep people out, so the curse was taken one step further.
On one fateful day in the fall of 1795, a woman's young son was killed in the forest by a mystery man, and her soul was set to walk the land weeping, looking for her son's killer for all eternity. She is simply known as, The Woman In Black. If your eyes are to be set upon her, your closest male relative will die at the next midnight.
As the mid-1800s approached, the Civil War called all miners to duty in the south. The one-time mining camps and caves became munition storages. At the wars close, several veterans of the Confederate States were interned in the cemetery of Salem Church, directly adjacent to the forest. These soldiers of a defeated confederacy still rise and wander the forest searching for their land claims, and that's the forest was known for the next 90 years.
In the 1950s, the Cold War was heating up, and nuclear energy was the only way to win. The United States government contracted the aircraft company, Lockheed Martin, to design an aircraft powered by a nuclear engine. This was top secreted and needed to stay that way. But how? Purchase a piece of land in the middle of nowhere: that land, Dawson Forest.
With immediate haste, the lab known as Airforce Plant 67 was built. Spread over thousands of acres, and dropping five stories underground, it was massive. Some walls even reached five feet think of concrete.
When the reactor (one of the largest exposed reactors in America at the time) went active, the sky turned a dark red. The local moonshiners and farmers fled town, fearing it was an attack of some sort. What was happening there, would prove to be much worse.
After a very short period of time, it was proven impossible to make planes powered by nuclear energy. But with millions of dollars invested, and plenty of resources available, the lab was quickly put to work doing some…unethical experiments.
A constant threat of a nuclear bombing was very real, and no one was quite sure what the world would look like with prolonged exposure to radiation. The first experiments included raising the reactor, and exposing the land and organic materials to radiation for days at a time. Eventually, train cars loaded with organic and human-made objects were brought in to be tested. But this did not prove to be enough.
It didn't take long before experiments were conducted on living animals, and soon, human subjects. This went terribly wrong. While most animals either died or experienced slight mutations, the two human subjects weren't so lucky.
In an attempt to speed evolution and create a resistance to radiation, two subjects were constantly exposed to slight amounts of different rays of radiation for prolonged periods of time. These subjects were known as SX66 and SX67.
SX66 died quite rapidly after only a few weeks. SX67 experienced quite the opposite effects. Not only did he prove too resilient to larger doses of radiation, but his cells also began to proliferate. The eyes of SX67 began to grow, and his pupils were extraordinarily live and disproportionate to normal humans eyes. The whites of his eyes almost seem to glow a subtle green in the dark.
Along with the eyes, SX67's head and body grew, and he developed a distinct stench, attributed to the rapid and constant growth and decay of his cells. The scientists began strength training him in 1970. What they had thought would become a way to protect citizens from a nuclear attack, became a possible super soldier to attack the Soviet Union. It seemed to have only one weakness; it couldn't swim. With its bones now being extremely dense, it became too heavy to float. This was found when SX67 was subject to a Navy exercise, in which it almost died. Too bad it didn't.
After one test went terribly wrong, SX67 attack one of its handlers as they were known. Once it was loose, it could not be stopped. The skin which had grown to be almost like a thick and grey rubber was able to stop the average rounds that the military used.
The only way to stop it was to starve it or drown it. In 1971, SX67 was sealed in a large containment facility, behind a steel door, large enough to drive a truck into. Several of the underground tunnels were also flooded. But not all of them
When the scientists showed up for their shifts the next day, they were stopped at the front gates by men in black suits and dark sunglasses. All they were told was that they ran out of funding, and their last government check would be mailed to them.
Years passed, and by the mid-1980s, it was assumed that SX67 was dead. The final guards packed up and moved out. This left the forest and the remaining few structures for the local moonshiners and dirt bikers to explore, within reason. Even though this land was sold and made into a public park…through the late 80s and early 90s, there were still many restricted areas.
This was all generally accepted and ignored. It was just assumed that these areas were either, still radioactive, or in the process of being demolished.
Life was all well and relatively normal in the forest until the mid-1990s. In 1995, Levi Frady was murdered and was found in the Dawson forest. His case remains unsolved. In 2005, a young woman's head was found hanging from a tree in the woods. As recently as 2015, people have gone missing in the forest.
First, it was 200 years from the original murder of the Woman in Black's son. Then ten years after that, then another ten years. Could this be the curse? I think so myself. My friends and I spend much time in the forest, and we always bring tobacco to offer the Natives so that we may be left at peace. This doesn't mean it's always peaceful, though.
I had heard stories sitting in the local diner, but one intrigued me more than any others. Two men had entered the forest, looking for one of the six entrances to the underground. They were able to get in, and it was remarkable what they found.
The facility was pristine. It only looked as if the lights were turned off, and the officials walked out to go home. After spending some time in the tunnels, they came upon some documents. The two of them stuffed as many as they could into their backpacks and left. Once they climbed out of the hole they dug to get in; two men in camouflaged gillie suits tackled them. The documents were confiscated, and the two men were escorted back to their car on the dirt road, a mile or so away.
To their surprise, there was a black sedan parked in front of them, and an army jeep behind them. Both with men in black suits waiting to escort them out.
As I spoke with the men who entered the facility, they described the stench of rotten flesh coming from down the hall. However, they did not investigate.
Me being a 17-year-old teen at the time living in a small town, this got my mind racing. Especially since spring break was fast approaching, and my best friend and I had no plans. I still remember the date, it was April 1st of 2014 when we made our venture out.
We told our parents that we were going to the lake because we know they would flip if they knew what we were doing. In fact, the only person who knew we were going was my friend's girlfriend. He decided to tell her in case we went missing.
The forest roads were rough, and the heat was beating down. We had endured some very heavy storms, so the air was thick and steamy, and the streets were sloppy with Georgia clay. Armed with only stories and a rough map we made from old photos, we headed into the woods.
After a little bit of hiking in the Georgia heat, we came upon a building on the river. One of the old entrances long flooded. From there, we kept hiking, only breaking to rehydrate.
In a couple of hours, we found our way back to the truck. Drenched with sweat, we cranked on the AC, and before he could put it in gear, a man tapped the passenger's window. He had come from the direction we had just hiked.
The man was dressed quite nicely. Not a bead of sweat, or speck of dirt. He was dressed in a uniform style black shirt, khakis, and dress shoes. With a smirk, he asked, “What are you two boys doing?” My friend, Ron, said foolishly, “Looking for the nuclear facility.” The man chuckled and said, “You're looking in the wrong place,” then proceeded to give us directions.
Ron and I looked at each other, and when we went to look back at him, he was gone. Mind you, this man had no water, no backpack, and there were no campsites within at least ten miles. Strange, but we followed the directions. They brought us out of the forest and far far away from any part of the nuclear facility.
Two days later, we return. Now with more friends who didn't believe us. We spent even more time searching. We found copper mines that had been caved in, native graves, and of course, the containment building.
Surrounded by three fences and barbwire, was a tall structure, thick with cement, and a giant steel door. We tried to open it, but were unable to, and didn't want to get caught by security. So we loaded up and drove following the river.
It was around noon, so we parked at an old railroad bridge and decided to eat lunch. We pull our food out and look around. There, we noticed a dark-haired woman in her middle age, standing fully naked in the field. She seemed to be praying or chanting something.
We shouted, “Ma'am, are you okay? Ma'am!” repeatedly.
She never acknowledged us. If she needed something, she would have told us, we figured.
Done eating, we checked our maps and prepared to leave when we were approached rapidly by a man on a dirtbike. Approaching us seemingly on a mission, I turned to conceal the fact that I had my hand on my gun (I always carry it in the woods. We have a terrible coyote problem).
He introduced himself as Matt. Matt is an investigator; it turns out. Searching to capture SX67 was his passion; he had ever seen it!
He gave us actual directions and told us where to go. Thanking him, I couldn't help but ask him about the naked woman in the field behind him. He turned, looked, and said, “what woman?” She was gone. Frantically, we explained what we saw, but all he did was grin and say, “There are some restless spirits out here. You'll find that out.”
Chilled to the core, we got out of there and followed his directions. We drove for a while before we came to a river that we had to drive through. There was a man in older clothing standing there, cleaning some dishes in the river.
Paying no attention, we drove through. I turned and looked behind us, but the man was gone.
About three miles down the road is an abandoned mine, and when we got up to it, we saw the same man carrying buckets out of it. The tunnel is caved in…you can only go in four feet. Chilled yet again, we focused on our primary goal of getting into the nuclear facility.
Sure enough, we eventually came to an area full of concrete remains. I put my gun in my holster and joined my friends investigating. Atop one of them sat a structure made of wood. My curiosity got the better of me, so I climbed up and looked at it. Sure enough, it was an altar in the middle of a pentagram. Inside of it, ashes of something.
Painted on the side of one of the walls, instructions on how to sacrifice animals. I had seen enough, and my friends had left me to start digging out the door.
We dug for hours until we reached the top of the door. Seven feet deep, eight feet long, and four feet wide. We joked that this could be our grave.
Dark hit, and we decided to head out, but once we got to our truck…there was a black sedan waiting for us. No one got out; they observed us. Driving out, we acted casual and realized they were following us, faster and faster they came. All the way to the highway, they chased us.
Stupid as we are, we decided to come back the next day. To our disappointment, our hole was filled, so I decided to show everyone the alter. Ron stayed back; he doesn't mess with that stuff. Will, on the other hand, a man with strong Christian beliefs, angerly smashed the alter. Bad idea.
Right then there was a loud scream, I reached for my gun on my side, but it wasn't there! I know I grabbed it. Before I could say anything, Will yelled, “What is that?!? It's running around me!” but there was nothing!
He described it as a black mass in the shape of a human. We all became disoriented and heard yelling in a deep voice in a language we couldn't understand. I fell to the ground during this whole ordeal. This felt like it lasted only a couple minutes, but when it was over, it was 11:00 pm at night.
Rushing back to the truck, we drove like hell. My gun was sitting on the floor under the gas pedal. The weird thing, when there's three or more of us, I ride in the back seat. We had also shot some cans with my gun 5 minutes before the alter was smashed.
Driving like a bat out of hell, we tore through the dark dirt roads but slammed on the breaks when something charged across the street. The spotlight on Ron's truck hit it…it was large, grey with giant eyes, and let off a terrible shriek before running towards us. Luckily, we escaped, but it left claw marks down Ron's truck.
It was 12:30 am when we were sitting at a local 24-hour restaurant. Will got a phone call from his mother. His brother had died that night in a single-car wreck. Since will never knew his dad, that was his closest male relative.
The next day in town, I went to the Pool Room, ordered a coffee, and thanked God for my life.
This is the last time we ever entered the forest.
Credit: Jake Malcolm
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