Eye On KELOLAND: Ghost In The Gulch

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Falls Park isn’t your only option to check out a scenic waterfall cascading down the rocks.  About a half-hour to our east, on the edge of Garretson, Devil’s Gulch offers another breathtaking, and in some cases, spine-chilling view of nature.

History and mystery converge amid the rocky outcroppings of Devil’s Gulch.

“It’s just a beautiful spot in the middle of a town that is just absolutely beautiful,” Devil’s Gulch Information Center Manager Jennie Weiland said.

Legend has it, famed outlaw Jesse James took a flying leap on horseback over this gorge at Devil’s Gulch to escape lawmen in hot pursuit.

“Yeah, someone that was that scared and trying to get away from a posse, yeah, he could have jumped it,” Weiland said.

Visitors are also drawn to the park’s waterfall where the wet spring and summer have magnified its gushing glory.

“The whole goal of going out to Devil’s Gulch was to see the waterfall,” Markcus Williams said.

Markcus Williams of Sioux Falls visited Devil’s Gulch for his very first time earlier this month, snapping photos throughout the hike.

“We left the park.  I went home to post some pictures to Facebook and a couple days later, a friend sent one of the pictures back to me and says hey, I can see a face in the water,” Williams said.

That alert prompted Williams to take a closer look at his photo of the waterfall.

“And I said oh my gosh!  You can see a face in the water,” Williams said.

Williams did some checking and learned that Devil’s Gulch is supposedly haunted by a frontier couple who met their demise here.

“And so the two of them died in each other’s arms down here.  So it was kind of a lover’s story,” Weiland said.

Williams is convinced the mysterious face in the water is the woman who died in the gulch.

“I’m a person that believes in life after death and I would in fact say that was a ghost, it was a spirit,” Williams said.

“When I first saw that picture, it was like wow!  That is amazing,” Wieland says.

Jennie Weiland says you don’t need a camera to capture a spirit-filled presence at Devil’s Gulch.

“And I’ll be sitting there just minding my own business, thinking about what I need to do, and I’ll just get this eerie feeling, that there’s someone right behind me and I’ll turn around to look and there’s nobody there, and it just kind of freaks me out sometimes,” Weiland said.

But to skeptics, it takes a Jesse James-sized leap in logic to conclude there’s a face in the water, let alone, a ghost.  

“Some say hey, it’s not a ghost, I don’t see the face.  Others are kind of speechless, like oh my gosh!  You went there,” Williams said.

Williams is sharing his story because he wants other people to come out to Devil’s Gulch to see if they have similar paranormal experiences.  As for Williams, himself, well, he’s holding-off on making any return visits for now.

“Right now, I’m too scared.  I don’t know if scared’s the word, but I want to leave whatever may be out there, at peace,” Williams said.

The ghost stories add to the mystique of Devil’s Gulch.   But whether you believe the stories or not, there’s no escaping the park’s haunting beauty.

Nationally-known ghost-hunting groups have asked to spend the night in Devil’s Gulch.   But the park has had to turn down the requests because it’s closed overnight.

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