MARIETTA - As enduring as it is memorable, Mound Cemetery and the manmade earthwork in its center has long held the fascination of community members and visitors alike.
"There aren't any direct or traditional ghost stories about the mound itself or the graveyard around it," said Lynne Sturtevant, founder and owner of Hidden Marietta, who often conducts historical tours of the city cemetery. "I think it is highly unusual for there not to be."
Mound Cemetery, at Fifth and Scammel streets, was founded in 1801 after the conical mound and surrounding land were designated by the city for burials. In October of that year, Revolutionary War veteran Robert Taylor became the first to be buried in the city cemetery.
Strange blue lights, an eerie feeling and a dark-hooded figure have been reported.
While many older cemeteries are believed to be haunted with tales and legends being passed down through generations, what makes Mound Cemetery unique is the Conus Mound, or Cemetery Mound, in its center.
The burial mound was built sometime between 800 B.C. and 100 A.D. by the Hopewell Indians. The mound was listed on Feb. 23, 1973 on the National Register of Historic Places.
"Because it is so unique and has a history that could possibly date as far back as 2,500 years ago, it is unusual for there to not be stories," said Sturtevant.
While there have been sightings of a strange blue light coming down the mound, Sturtevant said the majority of what people consider eerie or strange in the cemetery is the general sensations.
"It's more of a very general weird vibe than anything else," she said. "It is very difficult to describe, but you feel different on the grounds."
While there are no concrete ghost stories associated with the mound, which was discovered to be a burial mound during an excavation in the 1900s, Sturtevant said a number of people have reported seeing something.
"While there aren't any ghost stories, people do report seeing strange things in Mound Cemetery," she said.
One of those witnesses approached Sturtevant a couple of years ago after having participated in a ghost tour of downtown Marietta she had led.
"He hadn't seemed very interested in the tour his face was blank and he didn't really talk to anyone or seem to care about the stories," Sturtevant said. "But, after the tour, he told me that he was a retired city police officer and very early one morning, while on patrol, had passed the cemetery and had seen what he thought was a teenager dressed as the Grim Reaper standing at the gates."
The witness told Sturtevant he had passed the cemetery and planned to let the teenager's antics slide but within a few short minutes changed his mind.
"When he got back to Mound Cemetery, no one was there and his drive through the neighborhood came up empty," she said. "He swore he hadn't waited long enough for someone to have gotten away and, even years later, he seemed surprised by what he had seen."
Other than random events such as this, Mound Cemetery remains a special attraction in Marietta.