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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Today, only small stone remnants of the Cursed Pillar stand, along with a sign briefly describing it.
If you're ever in Augusta, check it out for yourself, but think carefully before you touch what remains of the stone.
Relevant & Related
- Take a short virtual walking tour of historic Augusta.
- Into elevators and vintage architecture? Check out DieselLucy's 2017 urbex elevaTOUR of the Lamar building in Augusta, Georgia.
- Country Fried Cryptid on YouTube has a 15-minute long video about the Haunted Pillar.
- In 2014, The Weather Channel aired a one-season run of a show called American Super/Natural, and the show's last episode was about the haunted pillar in Augusta. Here's a trailer for the episode Augusta's Tornado Talisman. I found it impossible to track down the episode anywhere except sketchy places online, so if anyone reading this knows how to watch it from a legal and legitimate source, please let me know so I can link it here. If you can find it, it's worth watching.
- And for that truly local feel, check out WJBF news reporting on the haunted pillar back in 2015 and a follow-up report from October 2021.
- Looking for another strange story near Georgia? Check out Tomoka's Carnivorous Pink Cloud.