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Mystical Legends of Georgia Folklore

  • St. Simons Tree Spirits

Thanks to television series like The Vampire Diaries, The Originals and The Walking Dead, and films like Zombieland, Georgia has become known as a land of zombie and vampires. But it’s not just the undead who reside in Georgia – all sorts of fantastical beings and phenomena find a home in the state. Here are a few of the ways you can get your mystical fix in Georgia.

Altie the Sea Monster

Altie at the Darien-McIntosh County Welcome Center
Altie at the Darien-McIntosh County Welcome Center

Did you know Georgia has its very own Loch Ness Monster? Local lore has it the Altamaha-ha sea monster, better known as “Altie,” lives in the waters and abandoned rice fields of McIntosh County. Tales of the creature’s sighting reach back to the land’s original habitants – the Muscogee tribe – and increased when Scottish settlers from Inverness brought over stories of Loch Ness. Even today, visitors to the coast tell tales of a strange creature swimming in the Altamaha River near Darien.

Try to catch a glimpse of the legend at Fort King George Historic Site – one of the most popular sighting spots – or snap a selfie with a replica of Altie at the Darien-McIntosh Regional Visitor Information Center.

Fort King George Historic Site
Fort King George Historic Site

Fannin County Fairy Crosses

North Georgia Fairy Cross by @sio2ga on Flickr
North Georgia Fairy Cross by @sio2ga on Flickr

Those in search of a natural good luck charm can make their way to Blue Ridge, where outdoor enthusiasts often stumble across fairy crosses. Scientifically known as staurolites, fairy crosses are stones that form perfect or near-perfect crosses and are said to bring health, protection and fortune. Fairy crosses are found in very few locations around the globe, with Fannin County famous for one of the largest concentrations.

Several local legends explain the origin of these stones: some say a race of fairies or angels wept when they heard about the death of Christ and their tears became stones, others suggest the weeping of the Cherokee formed the stones as they set out upon the Trail of Tears.

Indian Springs Healing Water

Indian Springs State Park
Indian Springs State Park

Be sure to take an empty jug or two with you the next time you visit Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla. One of the oldest state parks in the nation, Indian Springs houses what is considered a top healing spring. The healing waters flow from a spout in the Spring House, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Don’t let the smell of the water deter you; this pure mineral water has been said to work miracles.

Indian Springs in Flovilla is one of the oldest state parks in the United States and a popular spot for outdoor recreation. - kennyfan63 via Flickr
Indian Springs in Flovilla is one of the oldest state parks in the United States and a popular spot for outdoor recreation. - kennyfan63 via Flickr

Tree Spirits of St. Simons Island


Have you ever seen faces in the trees around you? The next time you visit St. Simons Island, take care to be on the lookout for the nearly two dozen tree spirits. Faces originally carved by artist Keith Jennings, the tree spirits are said to immortalize sailors lost at sea aboard ships constructed from St. Simons Island oak trees. As new tree spirits emerge each year, searching for these carvings has become a popular family-friendly adventure on the island. Discover the locations – and find out a few secrets – of these living works of art at the Golden Isles Welcome Center. And the next time you think you see a face in the trees, take a good, long look because you might just be seeing a tree spirit.

Bigfoot

Expedition: Bigfoot
Expedition: Bigfoot

Every state in the nation has tales of Bigfoot, and Georgia is no exception. Sightings abound in the state, with legends stretching back to the tales of the Creek and Cherokee tribes. In 1997, a giant footprint was found along Elkins Creek in Pike County. The cast taken of the footprint is one of the most popular casts brandished by Bigfoot hunters as proof for the cryptid’s existence. Though sightings can happen almost anywhere, you’re guaranteed to discover the creature at Expedition: Bigfoot in Cherry Log, a museum dedicated entirely to one of the most famous legendary beasts in North America. 

Graham Sweeney

Graham Sweeney works with the marketing arm of Explore Georgia. He is an avid fan of Atlanta sports, spending his time enjoying all things international and exploring by getting lost.

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