Blood and Ghosts: The legend of Sica Hollow
They say the deep, thickly forested ravines of the eastern slope of the Prairie Coteau Hills are haunted. Stories can be traced back to the Dakota Sioux who once used the area as their hunting grounds. One place, in particular, now called Sica Hollow State Park, is thought to be the location of a creation and vengeance story where various Native American mythical figures fought.
When the first Native Americans visited the location, they named it “Sica,” (pronounced she-cha) meaning evil. Numerous Sioux legends recall mysterious happenings here. The local Dakota believed this to be the reason for the blood red water that gushed out of the springs in Sica Hollow. It was most likely the result of minerals in the water, but still, the legend persists to this day. You can still walk the Trail of Spirits, where supernatural forces are supposedly at work. When European settlers first found Sica Hollow and the hills surrounding it, many of the fears of the supernatural were spread from the Dakota to the immigrants.
The first European to make his home near Sica Hollow was named Robert Roi, in the 1840s. Finding the location to be ideal with abundant game, he soon made his home in the deep ravine. The local Native Americans thought Roi was crazy for living in an area that they would not set foot in, much less make their home.
A few years later, an expeditionary force of U.S. government soldiers from Browns Valley set out to find Roi. Intent on collecting strategic information on what was then the frontier, it took them several days just to get down the wooded ravine where he lived. After they had visited with Roi, the soldiers left, agreeing with the local natives that the man was probably crazy to be living in such a place.
As the years passed, more and more whites settled the area, and the stories about Sica Hollow only grew. It was later believed that some beast or “Big Foot” type man inhabited the dense woods. This fear came to a boiling point when several people disappeared at Sica Hollow in the 1970s.
Sica Hollow, nearby Long Hollow, and other area ravines contain a form of quicksand due to the natural springs. There are also vast stretches of densely forested gullies and harbor ravines that drop several hundred vertical feet. It is little wonder why stories persist to this day. Over the years, nobody would live in Sica Hollow, which is one of the primary reasons that it is a national preserve and state park today.
Through the park runs a National Recreation Trail called the Trail of Spirits. On this path, you’ll see gurgling reddish bogs, the very same ones that the Sioux once thought were sprouting the blood of their ancestors. Swamp gas and stumps glow in the dark, and small waterfalls are heard echoing as trapped air escapes. For any that have been brave enough to stay the night, many have reported hearing voices, chanting, cries and war whoops, and even a few reported sighting of ghostly Indian braves.
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