Georgia ghost story about the mysterious “Blue Girl” said to haunt the covered bridge at Poole’s Mill Bridge Park.
Table of contents
The Blue Girl – Audio Story
About forty miles north of Atlanta in rapidly growing Forsyth County is a pretty bridge known as Poole’s Mill Covered Bridge. It’s one of the few covered bridges left in Georgia – or anywhere, for that matter. At one time the sagging old bridge was in such bad shape that it about fell into the creek below. But the county built a nearby park and restored the covered bridge to its original state. So now, as in years past, the bridge is a really nice spot to have a family picnic, or a romantic afternoon with your sweetheart, or just to stop by to enjoy a nice wade in the creek.
That’s exactly what one young family did on a bright summer day back in the 1930s. At that time there was a grist mill operating near the bridge, which is how Poole’s Mill got its name. The mill was first built in the early 1800s by a Cherokee named George Welch. But like other Native Americans back then, George has his property taken away by the government during the 1830 Indian Removal Act. Even though another family took over the grist mill and ran it successfully for years, some say the area was forever cursed by the wrong done to Mr. Welch (note: see corrected historic background after the story).
The young family I mentioned earlier included a Daddy, a Mama and their nine-year-old daughter. They were traveling through the area when they saw the pretty bridge and thought they’d stop for a picnic just upstream from the mill. Mama and Daddy spread a blanket on a tiny hill while their daughter ran down to the creek.
“Watch yourself down there!” yelled Mama after her daughter.
But the young girl didn’t pay her any mind. It was hot as the devil’s kitchen, and that cool water sure looked tempting. So the young girl kicked off her shoes and socks, hiked up her dress and jumped into that cool water.
What nobody knew that day was that recent rains had made the creek deeper and more treacherous than it seemed. In no time, the current suddenly swept the young girl away. Mama and Daddy heard her screams and ran down to the creek bank. Then they gazed in horror at what lay ahead.
Their daughter was floating downstream toward the grist mill.
Her daddy dove into the water and frantically swam after her. He was a strong swimmer, and with the help of the current he inched closer and closer to his screaming daughter. But she was being sucked toward the large water wheel that creaked and groaned in the rushing water like some wounded monster.
“Hold on sweetheart!” screamed Daddy, his mouth filling with the rushing water.
Daddy lunged for the big blue bow on the back of his daughter’s dress, his fingertips mere inches from her. Then with one final, blood curdling scream, his daughter was sucked under the water wheel. The mill creaked to a halt, and Daddy knew with sickening certainty that his daughter was wedged under the wheel.
By this time the mill workers had heard her screams. They dove into the water to help save her. But by the time they pried her from the slimy wooden teeth of the water wheel, it was too late. The pretty young girl had drowned, her face as blue as the bow on her dress.
The story spread like wildfire through the community. Devastated, the young couple left the state with the body of their daughter and never returned. No one knew their names, but the young victim was forever known around town as the Blue Girl.
Several years later, the old grist mill mysteriously burned to the ground and the pretty bridge fell into neglect. Until the county built the nice new park I mentioned earlier, many an old timer wondered what was really happening out at the old Poole’s Mill. Had the Blue Girl returned to avenge her death? Or was it the curse of the Cherokee George Welch?
Now you might think this is the end of the story, but there’s one more important part to tell. Bear with me, but we’re now going to need to jump to modern times and a local man named Chuck Morse.
There are a few things about Chuck you should know. He did a couple tours of duty in Vietnam and came back with a disfigured right arm, thanks to an unfortunate napalm accident. He also brought back a few scars that didn’t show, things he wouldn’t talk about. But whatever happened to him, the promise he’d shown in school and the bright future all his teachers knew was coming his way vanished into thin air.
Since coming back to the States, he never could hold a job for more than a few months. So he tried one get-rich-quick scheme after another. He illegally planted potatoes on a neighbor’s land to sell to the one of the large potato chip companies. He did some electrical repairs at another neighbor’s house and nearly burned the place down, after lying that he was a certified electrician. When too much trouble followed him, he’d disappear and find work on the oil pipelines in places like Saudi Arabia or Alaska. He’d come home flush with cash, quickly blow it all, and would be right back at square one.
It was during one of these visits back home, while sitting at the bar at the local VFW, that his life changed forever. While nursing a beer, thinking about what scheme he could come up with next, Chuck didn’t notice that an old World War 2 veteran had slid up beside him.
“Hey, Chuck,” said the old timer. “Ever seen a piece o’ gold like this?”
Chuck looked down at the old timer’s hands, and his jaw dropped. The old man was holding one of the largest gold nuggets Chuck had ever seen. Must be worth thousands of dollars, he reckoned.
The old timer noticed Chuck’s envious gaze and shoved the rock back in his pocket. Chuck gave a low whistle and said “Man! Where’d you get that?”
“My grandson found it up near Poole’s Mill Covered Bridge the other day when he went up there with his daddy,” the old man answered. “Way I hear it, there’s a lot more up there if you’re willing to dig for it.”
“What do you mean?” Chuck asked.
The old timer said a man named BJ Corliss who ran the Cherokee tourist museum out on Interstate 20 had told him about the gold. BJ regularly dug around Poole’s Mill for arrowheads and other artifacts, and was shocked one day to dig up a nugget right near where the old millstone was buried up in the creek bank. BJ reasoned that Cherokee George Welch had buried a huge stash of gold that he’d panned from the river, hoping to return one day.
“Why doesn’t that guy dig up the rest of it and put it in his museum?” Chuck asked.
“‘Cause the county built that park up there, and the police keep a close eye on it during the daytime. And there ain’t no way in hell he’s gonna dig for it at night.”
Chuck drained his beer and laughed. “You know, they got this new invention called a flashlight…”
“…It ain’t that,” answered the old timer. “He’s scared of the Blue Girl.”
Well this really made Chuck roll his eyes. He’d heard the stories about the Blue Girl ever since he was a kid. She was about as real to him as Bigfoot.
“You know, the reason BJ’s scared of the Blue Girl is ’cause he’s seen her,” said the old timer, noticing Chuck’s skeptic smirk. “He was up at the bridge one afternoon just as it was getting’ dusty dark, gatherin’ a few arrowheads he’d uncovered. When he stood up to put them in his bag, he saw a little girl out of the corner of his eye. She was wearin’ a pretty Sunday dress, perfectly dry and not a wrinkle on it. But her hair was soakin’ wet!”
“He started to take a step toward her to see if he could help her, not knowin’ at the time who she was, when all of a sudden – poof! – she vanished. Then she suddenly appeared again about ten feet in front of him! Then he saw the bluish tint of her skin, and he knew exactly who she was. So he took off runnin’ and prayin’.”
The old timer paused to take a quick sip of his beer before continuing.
“A lot of mill workers claimed to have seen the Blue Girl up there at night thru the years, walkin’ along the creek bank. She seems to want something, but no one’s sure exactly what. She’s still seen from time to time by folks who go up there at night, romancin’ and whatnot. But nobody ‘cept the museum guy ever said she’d come near them. He says he’ll keep diggin’ down there, but only in the daytime. There ain’t no amount of gold, or priceless Cherokee artifacts, that’ll get him down there after dark.”
Chuck laughed again, patted the old timer on the back, paid his tab and left. He reckoned if that old man was going to tell him a Blue Girl story, he was probably lying about the gold as well. For all he knew, the old man had spray painted a creek rock.
But as he drove toward home, Chuck’s “get rich quick” mind starting buzzing. What harm would it do to try digging up at Poole’s Mill Bridge, he thought. If everyone’s so scared of the Blue Girl, I can go up there at night and have the place to myself. If I don’t find anything, all I wasted was a little bit of time. Beats spending another night in front of the TV, he thought.
So when Chuck got home, he grabbed his shovel, pickaxe and flashlight from the tool shed and roared away in his truck. Twenty minutes later, he arrived at the old covered bridge. Carefully looking for signs of anyone about, he parked his truck in a cluster of trees where no passing motorist could see it. He then grabbed his tools and marched down to the creek to find the old millstone.
Now finding what remains of the old grist mill is hard enough to do in the daytime – at night it’s darn near impossible. Chuck cursed to himself as he slipped and stumbled along the creek bank, his shoes and pant legs sinking into the sloppy mud. He then made his way onto a pile of rocks. Certainly the millstone can’t be far, he thought.
“Whoa!” Chuck yelled out as he slipped off the bank. The flashlight flew out of his hand, and he tumbled into the cold water, banging his knee against an underwater rock. Shouting out a long string of cuss words as only a former soldier can, he reached underwater, grabbed the big rock and threw it angrily into the trees.
Chuck saw his flashlight shining in the grass beside the creek bed. He grabbed it and looked at the damage to his leg. His pants had a small hole at the knee, and blood trickled out of a minor scrape. He knew he’d have a deep painful bruise in the morning.
Chuck pointed his flashlight back at the creek. In the spot where he fell, he swore he saw something glisten under the water. Could it be gold? His heart beat faster as he jumped back into the water and dug around where he had removed the underwater rock. And sure enough, he found gold – but not the gold he was expecting.
In his hand was a small, golden, heart shaped locket that looked like it had been buried in the creek for years. He noticed a clasp on the side and twisted it. Inside was a deteriorated, old-timey photograph of a Mama, a Daddy and their beautiful nine-year-old daughter. They were frowning and tired looking, like folks always look in those old-timey pictures. They were dressed in their Sunday best, the little girl in a pretty dress with a big bow.
Then Chuck’s flashlight suddenly went out, plunging him into darkness. Dammit, he thought, what timing. What could possibly go wrong now?
But Chuck hadn’t lost all of his light. A strange glow was emanating from behind his back, growing brighter and brighter. Maybe the moon had come out from behind the clouds, he thought for a moment. But then he heard a sound that chilled his blood – tiny footsteps splashing in the water behind him, growing louder and louder as the eerie bluish glow grew stronger and stronger. He took a deep breath and whirled around…
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!” he screamed. For a young girl stood behind him, in a dry and perfectly pressed Sunday dress, her skin glowing and blue, and her hair soaking wet. Her dark, pleading eyes stared holes into Chuck. Try as he might, he could not run, frozen in terror at the mere sight of her. The young girl silently reached toward him but stopped just short of his face.
All Chuck could think to do was pray silently for the first time in who knows how long. “Lord, if you get me outta here I’ll never come back and look for gold or try to scam anybody or nothing. I don’t know what this girl wants, but please, God – please help me!”
While he was praying, he was unconsciously rubbing the gold locket. The Blue Girl glanced at it. It was then that Chuck finally figured things out. That’s it, he thought – she wants the locket.
Mustering up all the courage he had, he held the locket out toward the girl. She walked toward him, took the locket with her cold wet hands – and suddenly vanished. Chuck could’ve sworn she was smiling.
Chuck collapsed onto the creek bank shivering, partly from the cold water but mostly from sheer terror. After a minute or so, he noticed he was finally able to move. So even with his scraped, bruised knee, he flew up that creek bank, ran for his truck and burned rubber for a half mile getting away from there.
When Chuck finally calmed down a few days later, he realized what had happened. The Blue Girl had lost her locket when they pulled her from the creek, and she wouldn’t leave the area until she had it back. For it was the only way she had of keeping her family close to her heart. The reason she’d confronted the museum owner was that he’d been digging around in the area. She thought he might be able to find her locket, since he was so good at finding artifacts.
Ever since that day, the Blue Girl has not been seen around Poole’s Mill Covered Bridge, though there’s no shortage of ghost hunters, curiosity seekers or lovebirds who go up there looking for her. Chuck gave up on his prospecting idea and moved out to Los Angeles to become an movie actor. Needless to say, most folks expect to see him back in the Poole’s Mill area any day now.
As far as anyone knows, some of Cherokee George Welch’s gold still hasn’t been found. But, to this day, no one who’s heard Chuck’s story will go within 10 miles of Poole’s Mill after dark.
But, really, that makes no sense, does it? The Blue Girl of Poole’s Mill Covered Bridge is long gone by now….
– THE END –
Where is Poole’s Mill Covered Bridge?
Poole’s Mill Covered Bridge is located just over 40 miles north of Atlanta in Ball Ground, Georgia (Google Maps). It was once the site of a grist mill owned by George Welch – a successful Cherokee businessman who became controversial in death.
George Welch owned the grist mill and several other buildings (including the then-uncovered bridge) in the former Hightower Community in present day Forsyth County. Welch eventually lost the mill and his home during the Indian Removal Act and Gold Lottery from 1830-1832. In order to earn U.S. citizenship, Welch joined the “Treaty Party” of wealthy Cherokees who signed the controversial Treaty of New Echota in 1835. This, in turn, triggered the infamous Trail of Tears removal of Cherokee people.
Alienated from the Cherokee Nation, Welch lived the remainder of his days on land owned by his mother just one mile away. With a white wife and permission from the U.S. Government, he was able to remain behind while his Cherokee friends and neighbors disappeared. Many of his treaty co-signers were later targeted for assassination by vengeful Cherokee leaders.
Now in white hands, the grist mill remained in operation for another century. In 1947 it was abandoned, then burned to the ground in 1959 (the mill foundations can still be seen on the opposite bank of Settendown Creek). The original bridge washed away in 1899, but was rebuilt as a covered bridge in 1901.
Birth of Poole’s Mill Bridge Park
Poole’s Mill Covered Bridge has undergone extensive repairs in recent times to become one of the best-preserved covered bridges in the state. It was first built in the 1820s by a contractor who mistakenly drilled all the holes in the lattice members in the wrong place!
Many people tried to correct this problem over the years, but even though the bridge was structurally sound, it still sagged noticeably over Settendown Creek. The Georgia Department of Transportation took over in the late 1990s and fixed it back to its current state.
Forsyth County used funds from their local option sales tax to construct a park around the bridge, now called Poole’s Mill Bridge Park . Walk past the bridge and into the woods along the gentle banks of Settendown Creek, and perhaps you can visualize the old grist mill that used to operate there. But there’s no guarantee you’ll find Cherokee artifacts or gold down at the park. Nor the Blue Girl, for that matter.
There have been many ghost stories about Poole’s Mill Covered Bridge over the years, and ‘The Blue Girl” is one of them.
NOTE: The audio version of this story erroneously claims George Welch was forced out of Georgia on the Trail of Tears. We have corrected this in the text version and historic notes.
The Blue Girl – Story Credits
Written by Craig Dominey and Lanny Gilbert
Told by Lanny Gilbert
Photography by Craig Dominey
Sound Design by Henry Howard