Haunted Pillar on Broad Street in Augusta, Georgia

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Local legends are fascinating. Most of them can't really be traced back to any particular origin, and precisely how or why locals know about them is a bit of a mystery. Where I spent the majority of my teenage years—in Knoxville, Tennessee, there were quite a few local legends; some of those are on my list to write about one day. One of them was about an empty, damaged mausoleum in the back of a cemetery. That's a tale for another time, though, because we're about to head over to Augusta, Georgia, where a stone pillar in a historic district became a local legend—though some the story surrounding it is a complete fabrication, while others believe it to be true.

A Little About Augusta, Georgia

Augusta dates back to 1736, when it was founded as part of the larger British colonization of the Americas. It was named after Princess Augusta, wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales. Before the name Augusta, the area had been used by indigenous peoples as a way to cross the Savannah River.

The Savannah River in Augusta, Georgia.
The Savannah River in Augusta, Georgia. As you can see, not a river you'd want to casually swim across.

The city is now situated right at the edge of Georgia in the United States, right next to South Carolina. The United States is the fourth largest country in the world by total area, so here's a map showing which part of the US we're talking about.

Google Map of the United States showing the location of Augusta, Georgia, in the southeastern US.
Most Americans would likely know that Georgia is somewhere around Florida, but for everyone else, I've included this larger map that shows the most well-known US landmark cities of Los Angeles and New York.
Map of Georgia showing the location of Augusta on the eastern border next to South Carolina.
Zooming in a little, you can see the Savannah River running alongside the border of Georgia and South Carolina, with Augusta marked in red.

Augusta is best known for hosting the Masters Golf tournament each year—that and a stone pillar that will track you down and murder you for touching it. Augusta may seem like a relatively typical small city you might find in many places in the United States. It has its own historic district with unique buildings with local history, such as the Lamar building (the city's first skyscraper), the Miller Theatre, and the Imperial Theatre. In 1916, a fire swept across Augusta and destroyed about 25 blocks of the downtown area.

The Legend of the Haunted Pillar of Broad Street

Augusta once had a downtown farmer's market at 5th Street and Broad Street that stood for almost 50 years during the 1800s. A traveling evangelist preacher wanted to preach next to a stone pillar, but the local authorities forbade it. The preacher cursed Augusta and said that if they didn't let him preach in that spot, the market would be destroyed by a strong wind, and the stone pillar would be the only thing left standing.

An old postcard that looks like a picture showing a small building with four stone columns out front. In the foreground are men with horse drawn wagons.
An old postcard showing the pillar as part of a building in the market.

True to the preacher's word, a rare winter tornado rampaged through Augusta in February 1878 and destroyed the market, leaving only the stone pillar intact. Anyone who tried to move the pillar—or even touch it—died. One story says a young man pulled at the pillar with a tractor, but it didn't budget, and he aged and greyed, and in a single week, died of old age.

Will Jennings, mayor of Augusta in 1931, hired a press agent to help spread the word of the curse on the pillar to h̶e̶l̶p̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶t̶e̶c̶t̶ ̶p̶e̶o̶p̶l̶e̶ bring more tourists.

In 1935, the pillar was hit by an out-of-control car and destroyed. The driver was unhurt, and the pillar was rebuilt.

Until the 1950s, various highway workers and city employees tried to move the pillar or destroy it with heavy machinery. All died of strange circumstances like freak lightning bolts, dropping dead on the spot, or getting crushed by their own heavy machines.

On Friday, the 13th (of June), 1958, the pillar was hit by an out-of-control, oversized bale of cotton on a passing truck, and the pillar toppled over and was destroyed. The driver was not injured, and the pillar was rebuilt—eight feet from its original location, farther from the curb.

A photo of the haunted pillar at night.
The Haunted Pillar of Augusta, Georgia. Some call it the "Cursed Pillar." None of the stories say exactly who or what "haunts" it so I think "cursed" fits a bit better—but I'm no Augusta local.

On December 17, 2016, the pillar was hit by an out-of-control Ford Taurus involved in a two-car wreck. The pillar was destroyed. The driver of the vehicle, Augusta resident Corey Tyler, claims the pillar saved his life because had it not been there, his car would have hit a building instead.

The city of Augusta said they would rebuild the pillar, but as of 2022, they haven't yet. The remnants of the pillar are supposedly stored in a city garage, location undisclosed. According to WRDW News 12 in Augusta, the Visitors & Convention Bureau has already set aside money for the project. An engineering company has already completed the required plans to rebuild the pillar. However, the city administrator still needs to agree on a timeline. Meanwhile, a private company wants to redevelop the area and rebuild the pillar as part of its project.

Photo of a few inches of the bottom of the pillar coming out of the sidewalk. Weeds are growing from the center.
All that remains of the pillar.

Today, only small stone remnants of the Cursed Pillar stand, along with a sign briefly describing it.

A sign that reads: The "Haunted" Pillar of the Lower Market. On this site stood The Lower Market. Fire destroyed an early structure in 1829. The rebuilt market, with its bell that could be heard throughout the city, was a center of agricultural and livestock trade. A freakish cyclone blasted the structure in 1878 and local citizens moved the only column left standing to its present location at 5th (Center) and Broad Streets. According to local tradition, a wandering "exhorter" predicted that anyone who pulled down the pillar would be struck dead by lightning. Although the city rebuilt the market, it no longer proved useful and, in 1891, the market was dismantled. A footnote on the sign reads: placed by the Reverend Pierre Robert Chapter National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century
A sign marking the historical significance of the cursed pillar.

If you're ever in Augusta, check it out for yourself, but think carefully before you touch what remains of the stone.

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