Credit: Miguel Vieira
FeatureAuthor: Steven Shaw
A hike along the Bluff Mountain Trail can be a spooky endeavor. In November 1890, four-year-old Ottie Cline Powell wandered away from his school house in nearby Amherst County, Virginia.
A chill had taken the air that November as folks living along the mountains were readying themselves for the first big snowfall. His teacher sent the class out to gather firewood during a short recess but young Ottie did not return. For weeks, newspapers ran stories about the missing little boy on the side of the mountain. Volunteers turned over what felt like every rock looking for him but to no avail, Ottie’s parents spent the winter wondering what happened to their precious little boy.
During the spring snow melt that April, a group of hunters following their barking gun dog, stumbled upon the ragged remains of Ottie Powell. Medical evidence at the time suggested Ottie, realizing he was lost, ran with all his might trying to find home before foul weather hit. Instead, he fell asleep in the woods on the same day he got lost… and never woke up. His body was found seven miles away. A monument still marks the spot where little Ottie was found. Today, hikers near and around the Punchbowl Shelter on the Appalachian Trail report being harassed by the youthful spirit of the boy, constantly saying.... "Hi I'm Ottie, do you know how I can get home?"
The monument on Bluff mountain reads:
THIS IS THE EXACT SPOT.
LITTLE OTTIE CLINE POWELL'S
BODY WAS FOUND APRIL 5, 1891, AFTER
STRAYING FROM TOWER HILL SCHOOL HOUSE
NOV. 9, A DISTANCE OF 7 MILES.
AGE 4 YEARS 11 MONTHS.