There are many urban legends about “cry baby hollow” all across Alabama, as well as the U.S. Just about any city with outlying rural areas has a place donning the “cry baby” name - Hartselle is no exception. The legend of Hartselle’s Cry Baby Hollow, has several creepy variations, from wagon and car accidents at the bridge, to cult rituals and a man possessed by the devil who hid out in the woods of the hollow. Paranormal researchers have even visited the Cry Baby Hollow area and bridge on Kayo Road, which runs through the hollow, just off of U.S. 31 North, going toward Decatur.
Kayo Road narrows as it turns off of the main highway. An archway of trees and wooded area enclose the road, giving the feel of traveling through a tunnel to reach the infamous bridge. There is a gloomy, desolate feeling about the road as it winds down into the hollow. The narrow bridge is in disrepair, showing signs of a railing of some sort that was once there, and shot gun peppered, bent, and distorted caution signs at each corner of the narrow 12-foot wide bridge. The water from the creek below the bridge is murky and shallow, but there are fishing hooks and floats hanging from trees, giving signs that the area is visited often.
Tales from the “haunted” place are told by locals each year as the urge to spook is resurrected each Halloween season. Below are various tales about the spot. Investigate the area yourself, if you dare.
The legend of Frank Hammond (Hammon)
Frank Hammond was a man born in the 1920s who lived in the woods near Cry Baby Hollow, according to the website Hauntin.gs. The legend says that Hammond was part of a cult who met regularly in the hollow area to preform rituals to raise spirits from the dead. The site posted the following account of the Legend of Frank Hammond:
“In the 1940’s some say that Franklin Hammond murdered a number of victims, one right after the other. These people would turn up missing and police were unable to track down the killer. Hammond was said to have slaughtered a young boy and dumped his body in the Cry Baby Hollow Creek. He also purportedly murdered a pregnant woman in 1943, dumping the woman’s car in a pond in the woods, apparently.
One day, Franklin Hammond purportedly arrived in the town of Hartselle with blood stained clothes. He bought a rope and hack saw in this state and then returned to the woods (with the police tailing him). He had been living in an old bar where he had nailed human skin to the walls. The police observed him for about an hour before going ahead and arresting him.
After Hammond refused to talk to the police for some time, he finally decided to open up and tell his story. He said that a mother, father, and a young boy and their dog were fishing by Cry Baby Hollow Creek. He lured the dog to him and smashed its head. When the family came looking for it, he killed the father first, strangling him with barbed wire. The mother’s foot got caught in a rabbit trap as she tried to run. He drove nails into her body to finish her off. The boy watched his parents die and ran away, but then returned to the barn later. Hammond said, “I didn’t do nothing fancy with him.” He said that he just tied him up to the wall and then beat him with a hammer. Later, he dumped his body at Cry Baby Holler Creek. It was never found.
Hammond’s wife had been tied up in an old shack for some time. Every now and then, he would feed her until finally she was on the brink of death. Then, he decided to beat her to death using barbed wire attached to a stick. Loretta May Hammond’s body (Franklin Hammond’s wife) was later found under the floor of the old barn along with other mutilated bodies. Doctors speculated that the others had been beaten with a sledge hammer. Hammond removed these victim’s teeth and stored them in a jar.
Hammond spent time in a Georgia state prison. In 1950, on a dark and stormy night, he took his own life leaving a suicide note to the effect: “: For all the families I’ve hurt. This is for you. Now you can’t see me die in the chair. The evil is ready to go home. and get you all. It’s never over. It’s just begun.”
The legend of the bridge wreck
There are also several stories about wrecks on the bridge on Kayo Road, which supposedly account for its haunting. There are tales of a woman driving a wagon over the old bridge when a wheel broken and ejected her infant into the water below, where the child died. Another story describes a similar instance where the woman was driving a car and wrecked at the bridge where her child perished.
Alleged paranormal activities
Researchers, such as Blair Jett with the Paranormal Research Alliance of Cullman, have investigated the sight for ghostly activity based on personal accounts reported.
Some say if drivers park on the bridge and cut the engine off, the car will move. Others say they have heard sounds of a baby crying, or a woman sobbing at night near the bridge. Still, others report that if a piece of candy is placed on the bridge and left, a bite will be taken from the candy upon returning in a few minutes.
Jett, along with a team of paranormal investigators, visited Cry Baby Hollow in March of 2010. The team used infrared night vision equipment, EMF detectors, infrared thermometers, and digital voice recorders to catch any electronic voice phenomena.
“…after examining the video and audio taken that night, we have not found any conclusive paranormal evidence. During examination of the audio, it did seem like I could hear some disembodied voices off in the distance, but it’s also possible that this is a figment of my imagination. We did notice that we could hear automobiles off in the distance on Highway 31 (two miles away) that could be misunderstood as moaning and we noticed that there are some homes up the road aways on a hillside,” Jett wrote on the website Ghosthautings.org.
The team went on, completing three investigations in all, one during daylight and two at night. Investigators experienced heaviness in their chests, goose bumps, and uneasy feelings, but not recorded hard evidence of paranormal activities.
“Although most of us have had personal experiences at Cry Baby Hollow, we have yet been able to document anything with our equipment,” Jett wrote. “Of course we cannot say without a doubt that the legend of Cry Baby Hollow is true, nor can we allege that all of these people that have had experiences in the past are victims of an over active imagination.”
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