Chopski's Woods
I walked the unknown path, and found more than what I bargained for




                                            Chopski's Woods

                                            (Click on link to go to story
)

                                            Hangman's Bridge

                                            Dead Man's Pants

                                            The Hobo Camp

                                            Strange Happenings

First off, if you are reading this and think, hey, he's talking about my property.
I assure you, there were no 'No Trespassing' signs in those days.

The bridge was probably the most interesting landmark of Chopski's Woods.
It was where the spooky stories were told, it was where the beer and the cheap
wine were drank, it was where kisses were stole in the moonlight.

But it is the stories of the woods and not kisses that I am going to tell.

Hangman's Bridge

The bridge, alias haunted bridge, hangman's bridge, plankless bridge,
headless bridge, end of the road - had many names to different groups of
youth who visited there. And as diverse as the names, were the stories that
were associated with it.

The Hangman's Bridge, as I will refer to it, was a simple-beam style bridge built before the 1980s. For whatever reason the bridge was built, sometime after it was built, the bridge platform had been removed, leaving only a series of parallel steel beams running lengthwise and spanning the creek below.

It had been said, that another gravel road was to be built that crossed straight through the middle of Chopski's Woods. The bridge across the creek was the first obvious step in the process. Then work would begin on the new road.

There were some people who did not want the road, and occasionally the workers would find that their equipment had been messed with during the night. But despite the distractions, the bridge was completed and the road work begun.

There were two young couples joy riding in a convertible after the local Homecoming game. Three rode atop the back seat parade-style while one young man drove. It is assumed he decided to take the new bridge and drive down the start of the new road to find a place where the two young couples could hang without being bothered. He eased into the turn, but then stepped on it to tease the girls as he headed for the bridge. No one could have seen the thin piano wire tied from tree to tree in the darkness that night. It had probably been put there to mess with the construction workers.

The piano wire struck the three across their necks. It was rumored that one of the young girls' heads had come completely off. One of the other's partially. And the third, suffered fatal injuries when he hit the back of his head on the vehicle or on the ground.

There wasn't even a scream. The young driver had not realized their fate until he was already on the bridge and looked back to see why it had gotten so quiet.

Some might ask at this point, so why do I refer to it as the Hangman's Bridge? Well, let me tell you the rest of the story

Five days later, the young driver attended the funerals of his friends. Some fellow students said his eyes were bloodshot, and that his clothes looked slept in. That would be understandable after what he must have gone through. One can only imagine what he saw in his headlights after turning the car around, and getting out. Did he think they were playing a prank on him? Or was it a dead giveaway, pardon the pun, when he noticed the head of one of his friends detached from its body. Was the head that of his first love? But the students had something else to say about the young man and how he acted that day, and how he talked and carried himself among the other students. In a way, he seemed cheerful. Too jovial for the situation, almost creepy one student went as far to say.

He disappeared soon after the interment of his girlfriend. Never showed up at home that night. They had an idea where he might be, and officers were sent out immediately. No one would have guessed he would take it so far. They found the young man hung in the tree nearest the bridge. One of the same trees where a length of piano cord had been left wrapped around the tree because it had been too tight to get off. So they just cut it and left the rest there.

Story has it, the county shut down construction on the new road, and pulled the planking off the bridge so no one would ever cross it again. An investigation went on for years, but they never did arrest anyone for putting the piano wire across the road. That remains a mystery.

But, there are theories . . .

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Dead Man's Pants

Several years later . . . one of the local bachelors, a short thin fellow who kept beef cows in a pasture within the rolling hills of Chopski's Woods, started talking to his neighbors about people living out in the woods. And since he discovered them, he said they seemed to be watching him from a distance. It was getting so that he was afraid they might hurt him. To one neighbor, he went so far as to say he thought they had something to do with the murders. He called the killing of the three kid's murders. It was murder, I suppose you could say, although some say the deed had not been done to intentionally hurt anyone. That's mostly elders talking; the type of conversation one hears out on the porch after supper.

Each of the neighbors he talked to encouraged him to call the sheriff, and let him know. But the middle-aged bachelor feared it might just make it worse on him if the sheriff's posse started rutting around out in the woods. It would just piss the people of the woods off. But then one day, the sheriff came to him. Pulled right up into the drive of the old bachelor's farm. One of the neighbor's must have called, but none ever admitted it. And no one knows what, if anything, the bachelor told the sheriff. It's all in confidential files now; part of another ongoing investigation that may never get solved. All anyone knows from around the Woods, is that later that night, after the sheriff had been to visit him, the bachelor had gotten into his station wagon and headed towards the south entrance of Chopski's Woods, maybe just headed to town for a gallon of milk. He never made it.

They found the station wagon parked along the side of the road about two miles down from his house. Headlights off. Engine off. About thirty feet away, and hammered to a fence post with a heavy square nail, was the bachelor. Slumped over and deader than a door nail. I say that cliché not to be cute, but because the old medieval door nails referenced in "Deader than a door nail" are more than likely an ancestor to the heavy American square nail. Well, the bachelor was removed from his perch, and after the funeral had passed, so settled the people of the Woods back into their routine. But not more than two weeks passed when something almost horrifying occurred.

Right in the exact spot where the bachelor had been, someone had nailed a pair of denim farmer-style trousers on the pole. Looked like a pair that come straight from the dead man's drawer. It was a message, the elder's said. If you see them, keep your damn mouth shut. And they all did after that. The trousers hung there for most of 20 years before one morning when everyone drove into town for church. They were gone. 

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The Hobo Camp & its paranormal existence

Some say they don't believe in Bigfoot because they don't see it (I mention more on Bigfoot in another section of my website), but that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Some scientists believe that 86% of all land creatures are yet to be discovered.

About 20 years later . . . There was a group of young high school boys. Perhaps a little too curious. They had heard the stories about Chopski's Woods. Never believed them. Just used the stories to scare the girls into snuggling up to them on cool moonlit nights. One summer evening, when the twilight meant to hang on as long as it could, the boys went for a hike. They balanced their way across the beams, and headed into the woods. They were surprised to find a fairly well tramped trail on the other side. It gave the young men the encouragement they needed to continue. As long as you have a good trail, it's hard to get lost, right?

The trail led them North and then east (to the right) and up and down a few hills, before climbing to the top of a ridge and moseying along its peak for a ways. With each five minutes a foot, the sky tinted a darker shade of blue. There had been talk about turning back earlier, but the four young men were now almost in a trance. Until one of them saw something deep in the valley that looked out of place.

Down in the valley were six or seven little huts; Minnesota fish house-sized huts. They were thrown together with an assortment of boards and other material and had faded to the point where they were almost invisible to the eye. To the front of a couple of them, were doors, and not far from the doors you could see where fire pits had been established and an assortment of tin cans and garbage was strewn about. The curiosity only lasted a few minutes, until the thought of who might live there started to sink in.

One in the group called it a hobo camp. One of the others had other thoughts. It was about then, they also noticed (without mentioning it aloud) that the shadows had stretched out from the trees, and the green underbrush had turned to black blobs, and the little light that did shine thru the canopy made tree branches turn into arms, fingers, and wooden weapons. The hikers decided to head out. The path ahead lightened to a mere deer trail. But they figured it was twice as far to head back in the direction they came, as it would be to keep going. Based on the sun setting to the west, if they headed 45 degrees from that, they would be headed south. They stepped out of the woods into a pasture, crossed a fence, crossed another, hopped across wetlands, crawled up one more hill, and stumbled onto the road. By this time, it was completely black, and those four young men were happy to be out of the woods.

They headed west on the low-maintenance gravel road and after about a half mile, arrived back at the bridge. It was hard to believe they had done all that walking and had come out only a half mile from their start point. But they were going to experience something even harder to believe.

On the way home that night, they decided that they had to come back. They had to get a closer look at the huts in the daylight. And in the daylight, the four of them would be a lot braver and not as worried about getting lost. So at noon the next day, they arrived back at the bridge. They balanced their way across the beams, headed north into the woods, then following the trail to the east; exactly as they had the night before. The trail was clear and easy to follow. They followed it up and down a few hills, and soon were on the ridge. Some even ran along the top of the ridge in excitement and anticipation. They scanned the north side of the valley with youthful eyes, and were surprised to have almost missed the huts. But then one of them saw something.

It was huts alright, but something was amiss. There were now only two huts in the valley. They raced down the hill to the huts, which sat in a clearing at the bottom. There was maybe a beer can and a baked bean can partially burned there. A fire circle so old it hadn't been seen from the top of the ridge. The huts were run down and barely standing. There is no way it was the same place they had observed the evening before. They climbed to the top of the hill, and went up and down the ridge to see if they had missed the other huts, but there was nothing. They finally headed out, deciding to take the same trail out as the night before. The followed the light deer trail to the south, crossed a fence, then another, then jumped across the wet ground, before climbing the last hill to the road.

Upon getting to the road, they naturally headed west as they had the night before. They walked almost a mile before they realized, something just wasn't right. It took some time to convince themselves to walk back in the other direction. Could they have walked right past the path leading to Hangman's Bridge? Impossible. But they headed east anyway. A mile and a half later, they came across the path leading to the bridge. How had that happened? How can you followed the largest, muddied up trail in the woods, come across the same landmarks, same fences, same everything, so it seemed, and end up coming out of the woods a half mile in the complete opposite direction. And not find the huts that were on a part of the path so easily followed. It was as if they had been picked up and moved away.

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Strange Happenings

Strange things happen all over the world. Some are just coincidences. Some explainable. Some are not. I wouldn't be telling the whole story unless I laid all the cards down on the table. There were nights, when driving through certain sections of Chopski's Woods, that unexplainable things would occur. Cars would shut off for no apparent reason. One time, two belts broke out of the blue, shutting the car down. The house on the hill with the upstairs bedroom light, and the kids jumping on the bed at all hours of the night. There are a few more stories that have faded in my mind over the years. If I recall them, I will add them to this.

Perhaps someone will send me an email of places like Chopski's Woods and I will include them on this website. There are plenty of places around the world where unexplained things occur on the tails of old stories just like this. I imagine that's why they get the attention they do.

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Do you have memories of a place like Chopski's Woods? Tell us about it in a line or two in the Guestbook. If you would like to tell more, email it to  russvic@hotmail.com with a name or nickname and I may add it to the site.