Folktales and Songs

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Entries - Entry Category: Folktales and Songs - Starting with G

Ghost Legends

Arkansas is rife with legends of ghosts and haunted places. Some of these legends, such as those surrounding the nationally famous Gurdon Light or the Crescent Hotel, are unique to the state, though Arkansas has also been one of the locations cited in well-known, widely reported legends, such as that of the “vanishing hitchhiker,” which has been ascribed to localities across the country. The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) is one of Arkansas’s most famous haunted locations. The ghost of former owner Dr. Norman Baker, who turned the hotel into a health resort in 1937, is said to wander around the old recreation room by the foot of the stairs leading to the first floor. In July 1987, …


The gowrow, one of several fabulous monsters reported in Arkansas popular lore, may owe its origins more to journalism than to traditional narrative and folk belief. The principal documentation of the creature’s existence is a story that appeared in the Arkansas Gazette on January 31, 1897, apparently written by Elbert Smithee. Elmer Burrus provided an illustration, allegedly based on a photograph, to accompany the piece. Fred W. Allsopp, who edited the Gazette at the time, recounted the circumstances that led to Smithee’s story. William Miller, a Little Rock businessman who had been traveling in the Ozarks of northwest Arkansas, told Smithee of a “horrible monster” known as the gowrow. Its name came from the noise it made during its nocturnal …

Gurdon Light

The Gurdon Light is a mysterious floating light above the railroad tracks near Gurdon (Clark County), which was first sighted during the 1930s. Many theories and stories exist to explain the light, including one which connects it the 1931 murder of William McClain, a railroad worker. The popular local legend drew national attention in December 1994, when NBC’s Unsolved Mysteries television show documented the phenomenon. Gurdon is located approximately eighty-five miles south of Little Rock (Pulaski County) on Interstate 30, just east of the Interstate on Highway 67. The light appears along a stretch of railroad tracks outside of the town. Some people believe the light originates from the reflection of headlights of cars off of Interstate 30. However, the …