You won’t find Elsewhere, Kentucky on any map.
The overgrown gravel road leading to the abandoned settlement doesn’t even connect to a main road. As with most places you shouldn’t go, even Google satellite images have been scrubbed with what looks like a bad use of a blur tool. It was located in south-eastern Calloway County just off the shore of Kentucky Lake. Elsewhere sat surrounded by forest. Until recently, several buildings remained.
I’d heard stories about Elsewhere growing up. Being a Calloway County native, I heard most of the local folklore and ghost stories. I spent several nights in Asbury and Old Salem cemeteries looking to verify stories of creepy ghosts and various monsters. The most I ever got was spooked friends and a bad case of the willies. I was volunteering at the Senior Citizen’s center when Earl, a man of about 80 years old, told me a story about the fall of Elsewhere.
It went like this:
When I was a boy, my pa’ and I went to the Elsewhere General Store to get some rock candy and chicken feed. I stood outside while pa’ talked to Mrs. Ellison the shopkeep. Pa’ loaded the feed into the truck and handed me the candy. Right about then there was this loud scream from the schoolhouse. I don’t know right well what happened ’cause pa” told me to stay in the truck, but after that we never went back to Elsewhere.
When I was a few years older, I went back there with some friends. We were just dumb kids foolin’ around. My friend Jason went inside the schoolhouse and I never saw him again. We spent the rest of the day looking for him and later the police did a search but found nothing. Shortly after that the county disconnected Elsewhere road from HWY 280. It’s been about 60 years and you’re the first person to mention the place in half a century, son.
I did some digging after the story. The Calloway County Public Library has a pretty good archive of town history and folklore. I had read every book on the subject, but I’d never seen mention of Elsewhere.
I ended up at the Waterfield Library up on the Murray State University campus looking through old microfilm when I found reference to Elsewhere in the Louisville Courier-Journal. A single paragraph story covered how the unincorporated town was being abandoned for health and safety reasons. It was dated April 2nd, 1953. There was one detail that stood out.
“Located two miles north of New Concord just off of HWY 280”
I waited until Saturday morning and I made sure to charge my cellphone before parking roughly two miles north of New Concord just off the side of the road. I moved about a 50 yards past the treeline and hiked back and forth until I found the remnants of Elsewhere Road. I followed it northeast for about a half a mile before coming to a clearing where several dilapidated buildings stood over the tall grass and broken pavement.
I moved closer to the center of the town when I saw a sign to my left that read “Elsewhere General Store.” The windows were boarded up and the door was nailed shut, but after pulling at the boards for a few minutes, I was able to pry it open. The wood was weathered and brittle, it popped right off leaving the nails in place.
I was surprised to see goods on the shelves were left in place. They sat rusted on old wooden shelves. An old timey cash register sat on a counter to my left and several burlap sacks lay tattered across the floor. I pressed a few keys on the old mechanical cash register and then pulled a lever to reveal several tarnished coins and some paper money. I had a sandwich in a Ziploc bag I’d brought for lunch and I decided to eat it before putting the old money in the bag and stuffing it in my backpack.
I moved toward the back of the store when an unexpected noise caused me to stand at attention. I caught the distinct sound of footsteps on the wooden porch of the general store. I turned around and peered out the door to see…nothing.
“Hello? Anyone there?” I called out.
There was no response.
I crept towards the door slowly with my hands out in front of me, just in case. I slowly peeked around each corner before verifying that no one was standing outside and made my way back out to the street.
I was sufficiently creeped the fuck out at that point.
I decided to pack it in and come back later with friends. It was just about then I heard the crack of thunder. The weather app on my phone said zero chance of rain, but the clouds overhead were moving in fast. I thought about hoofing it the half mile in the rain, but it came down fast and hard. I didn’t want to go back into the general store, so I darted to the nearest building — an old house.
The front door was unlocked and the door opened on the second pull. Standing in the parlor, I looked around at the old furniture and dusty floors and decided to sit on an old wooden chair that seemed sturdy enough. The storm raged outside and I could see water coming in from the ceiling. There were several old papers sitting on the coffee table in the living room and after a while I got up to go look at them.
The yellowed papers were single page editions of an old periodical called the Elsewhere Gazette. The stories covered church events, pie recipes and an advert for the Elsewhere General Store. One of the papers in the stack bore the headline: “Tragedy In The Schoolhouse.”
The article told the story of a hysterical school teacher who had poisoned the cake she had prepared for the students. The one surviving student ran out of the schoolhouse screaming when the woman tried to force him to eat some of the poisoned cake. It was dated August 12th, 1936.
Earl’s story put him there nearly 20 years later. I was curious as to what would have happened some 20 years after the tragedy, but not entirely willing to continue investigating. When the rain let up a little, I trudged back to my towards my car. Around the time I got halfway down Elsewhere Road, the sky cleared up and the rain stopped. When I got back to 280, I marked the spot with with a couple of fallen branches propped up against a tree and drove back into town.
That night I was sitting at Mary’s Kitchen nursing a cup of coffee when Jerry came in and sat at the table adjacent to mine. Jerry and I didn’t talk much, but we would often find ourselves sitting there through the midnight hours drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. He tapped me on the shoulder this time.
“You look like you saw a ghost kid,” he said.
“I didn’t see one, but pretty sure I heard one,” I said, shaking my head.
Jerry got a confused look on his face.
“I did some hiking out by Elsewhere this morning,” I added.
Jerry’s face went pale. “Bullshit.”
I showed him a couple of the pictures on my phone.
“See that building right there…” he said pointing at my phone, “Don’t go in that building, ever.”
“I take it that’s the schoolhouse,” I said.
“What’s the big deal about that place? Earl up at the Senior Center said he didn’t know what happened. I found an old newspaper article from about 20 years before Earl was there, but it didn’t explain the scream he heard coming from it in the 50s,” I said.
Jerry shook his head. “’Round here we don’t talk about Elsewhere in polite conversation. It ain’t one of those things that needs discussing. But I can tell you’re all curious so I’ll tell ya, and then leave it be.”
“I was born in ’59, about six years after they abandoned the town. It was the 70s by the time I was a dumb teenager lookin’ for a thrill. My buddy Tom Blankenship found pictures of Elsewhere in a book up at the library saying the town was abandoned in a hurry. We drove his truck out there and found everything boarded up, save for the schoolhouse. Tom went inside the schoolhouse and I stood by the truck. You could still get to Elsewhere road if you didn’t mind driving over some saplings at that point.”
Jerry lit a cigarette and took a drag. “Tom let out this wail like he’d been bit by a snake and I rushed up to the schoolhouse expecting to see god knows what. The single room schoolhouse was empty. I looked all over for Tom, but I couldn’t find him. I ended up going to the cops and that was when they told me about the ghost.”
Jerry took a long drag and stood up from his chair and moved across from me. There was this somber look in his eye that told me everything I needed to know about Tom’s fate.
“So the deputy tells me that every couple of years, some idiot goes out there and goes in the schoolhouse only for nobody to see them again. Thing is, the county sheriff’s department knows about the ghost. He told me that back in the 50s, this kid came to school with a machete and hacked a couple of the kids up. The school teacher ran out screaming. They questioned the kid and he said this pretty lady that stood outside the schoolhouse from time to time said it would send them to heaven. They ended up putting him under the jail.”
Jerry put out his cigarette and looked at me with a stern face.
“I don’t know what happens to the people that go into that schoolhouse and I don’t want to know. Don’t go back there. The county should demolish that place,” he said. Jerry left a five dollar bill on his table and walked out. Despite his story, I was even more curious about Elsewhere at that point. I paid for my coffee and left.
By the following Saturday, I was able to wrangle a friend to come with me back to Elsewhere. Katie was a local college student who was obsessed with ghost hunting and abandoned towns. It wasn’t very hard to rope her into coming along. I told her the stories as they had been passed down to me and it was all it took for her to wake me up at 5AM on a Saturday morning with some coffee and a camera ready for a hike.
Katie and I strolled into town a little after seven in the morning. The sky was bright, but the sun was still barely over the trees. We decided to open the doors to the schoolhouse and look inside from a few feet back. I opened the door and shot back off of the stoop and back into the grass. It was dark inside and we couldn’t make anything out. Katie produced a flashlight and shined it inside the doorway. I could make out a few upturned desks and a chalkboard in the back. We stood there for a bit when the sun crept over the trees and started heating up the morning dew resulting in a thick fog. I turned for a moment to look back at the general store when Katie darted past me into the schoolhouse.
I immediately ran after her and we both stood in the dilapidated building as I begged her to go back outside.
“I could’ve swore I saw a kid standing in here,” she said.
“Yeah that’s great. Spooky kids. First time I was here it rained out of nowhere. Now its fog. Let’s go,” I said.
Katie walked a few steps forward and let out a yelp as she fell through a hole in the floorboards to the cellar down below.
I laid flat on the floor and reached my arm down for her to climb up. She grabbed my wrist and I grabbed her with my other hand and tried to roll back to pull her up. She wouldn’t budge. I looked back down and saw a half-transparent woman holding on to Katie’s legs and pulling her into the darkness. I pulled harder as Katie started screaming. The ghostly woman looked up at me and smiled in the dim light of the morning shining from the door.
Katie was pulled quickly into the darkness and in the struggle, I too was pulled down into the cellar. Katie fell silent after I pulled a couple of glowsticks from my backpack and cracked them open. I tossed one in her direction and one towards the other end of the room and brought up the flashlight app on my phone. Katie sat slumped against the wall on the far side of the room. There were bones all over the room in various states of decay. I walked over to Katie and checked her pulse at the neck, it was faint, but it was there. I turned towards the back of the room and that is when I noticed a small sliver of light coming from two wooden cellar doors about 20 or so feet from me.
I crept past the scattered bones and over to the cellar doors. I tried to open them only to hear chains rattle on the other side. I pushed harder and kept banging at them until one of the hinges broke. I pushed the doors open and went back for Katie and threw her over my shoulder. As I walked towards the opening, I felt a sharp pain across my back. I didn’t look back. Instead, I bolted for the light. I tripped over a corpse and fell to the ground. My cellphone slid across the floor. I looked back and the ghostly woman was almost on top of me. I bolted up, grabbed Katie by the wrist, and took off for the stairs leading to freedom, dragging the young co-ed behind me.
Just as I crossed the threshold into the light I felt a tug and looked back to see the woman holding Katie by the leg. I tugged and pulled and cursed and fought. This otherworldly voice came from the apparition saying, “LET HER GO TO HEAVEN!”
“Go to hell!” I shouted.
The woman’s grip on Katie loosened and I fell back onto the soft grass with Katie landing on top of me. I didn’t wait around for her to show up again, so I fireman carried her back to my car.
In my report to the deputy, I mentioned all the bodies I found down in the schoolhouse. He would later tell me they recovered 16 skeletons and one corpse that had been there for just a few years. The county board voted to demolish the town shortly thereafter. It was all kept hush-hush. Elsewhere Road was tilled with a backhoe after the remaining buildings were bulldozed and the cellar of the schoolhouse filled with concrete. I went back out there one last time just to make sure it was gone and I didn’t make it five feet toward the treeline before a deputy sheriff flashed his lights and told me to get back in my car.
Katie won’t talk to me anymore. Last I saw her she pretended she didn’t see me and scurried away. Of all of the things that I experienced in that town, I regret not grabbing my cellphone. I had some pretty decent pictures. There’s no record of Elsewhere, Kentucky. Now, there’s nothing left of the town. I haven’t been back and from the way the county has been handling it, I don’t think there is anything to go back to.
But just in case…