DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The woods surrounding Montgomery Bell State Park have long been said to be the home of a mysterious creature known mostly by it’s “screeching wail.” Since just after World War I, people in the area have reported hearing the screaming, warned away from the noise of the “White Bluff Screamer.”
According to historian Lyle Russell, one of the first encounters with the legendary creature involved a new settler in the area just southwest of present-day White Bluff. The man, his wife and their seven children reportedly heard the screaming begin not long after they built their home in the rural lands of Tennessee. At first, the family did their best to ignore the shrieking coming from the woods.
After several days, however, the children grew fearful of the terrible hollering, and the settler’s wife was losing sleep to it. The settler took his lantern outside to attempt to investigate the nearby area to no avail. Every night just past sunset, the screaming would start up.
According to the legend, one night the settler sat on his porch at dusk, rifle in hand, ready to take on the animal making the horrifying noise. Once the sun set, he told his wife to lock all the doors and windows for her and their children’s safety and only to open the door for him when he returned.
Though an expert woodsman, the man soon became lost in the forest trying to track down the creature screaming every night. Each time he thought he was getting closer to it, the sound would move further away from him, echoing off the trees and hills, making it difficult to locate the source.
Soon, however, the creature’s shrieks were joined by that of a woman’s and children’s screams, and the settler rushed home to find his entire family slaughtered in their home.
At this gruesome discovery, the legend says, the man fell to his knees in horror and grief, only to be taunted once again by the mysterious screaming.
In some versions of the tale, the man, blinded by heartbroken rage, sought out the creature again, only to be met by a ghostly female figure enshrouded in a white mist. The spirit floated through the forest, leaving scorched earth beneath her in a blue ethereal fire.
Other versions of the legend say the man encountered a large beast rather than a ghostly figure. The beast had white fur, savage claw and huge teeth and was easily twice the size of a man.
Reports say the remains of the settler’s original cabin still exist in the White Bluff area, and the screamer can still be heard today, according to Russell.