Sylvan lake is located in Custer State Park. It was built in the late 1800’s. South Dakota is home to many beautiful parks and landmarks but Custer State Park is a must see. It has wonderful wildlife and beautiful natural beauty around every corner. Sylvan lake is said to be one of the most gorgeous lakes in all of the Black Hills and arguably in South Dakota. It’s located at the bottom of Harney Peak. If ever up for a grand hike this would be the one to do. It’s an all day hike and once you get to the top, if it’s during the day, their is a view compared to no other. Hills and flat lands for as far as the eye can see. You can even see far across into the Wyoming border.
There is a lookout tower at the top that is quite amazing it was ever able to be built up there. It’s always been a wonder to many people who built it and why. That in lies the mystery of Sylvan Lake. It’s said that this lake is home to something dark. A black magic surround the lake and mountain. At night in the tower at the top of the peak, three woman appear. Not just any ordinary women. These are witches. They’ve haunted this mountain and lake for ages.
The witches weren’t always witches. They use to be loving women and a couple were house wives. Married to established men and had everything they ever wanted. Unfortunately being greedy is what wound them up losing everything they had. The first woman’s name was Mary. She was married to a bank manager. Of course a stay at home wife she did what she pleased. They had a house on a hill near Custer. It was only a one floor house but had thirty acres that surrounded it. During the early 1900’s that was the richest of the rich in this region. Mary’s best friend was Janice. She was married to the owner of a lumber mill. This was the only mill in all of western South Dakota. So it’s safe to say he was always busy and the bank account was always full. Even more conveniently he banked at the same bank that Mary’s husband managed. The old saying was probably started back then, “it’s about who you know”. Last but not least would be Janice’s sister. Her name was Tiffany and she actually lived with Janice. She did house keeping work for her in exchange for a fat paycheck.
The three women always had tea every morning at the local cafe. Many of the people around the town knew of these rich women and didn’t care much for them. The women were snotty and they did think they were above everyone else. It’s not something they should do but it’s just how they were raised and who they became. The people of the town were always curious how the men came so quickly into their companies and riches. Back in the day they tagged it as witchcraft. People said they put spells over everyone else do get them to do what they wanted. This was far from the case but whatever made them sleep better at night. Once word got around town that their were witches among them it was didn’t take long for an outcry to happen. The outcry turned into an uproar.
On one fateful night the town gathered outside the two mansions. They yelled and broke windows. Pitchforks and shovels is what everyone held. They waited until the men came out and asked what was going on. They told them to give them witches and they could keep their lives. In a tragic turn of a events and of course, none real love, both men complied. They gave up their wives to the people of the town. Janice’s sister was also tossed out into the crowd. The women screamed at their husbands. The townspeople loaded them up on wagons and traveled up to Sylvan lake. They attached large boulders to each of the women’s feet and tossed them into the middle of the lake. Bubbles and splashing ripped through the lake. All three women trying to stay afloat. Finally the water settled and the last few bubbles surfaced. They had died for reasons that weren’t true. This wasn’t the last the world would see of these three women.
The people of the town had done a horrible thing. They murdered three woman who were completely innocent. An even worse tragedy happened when the husbands let their wives go freely. They didn’t even put up a fight. The only part of the situation they saw was the money and their jobs. They didn’t want to die and they certainly didn’t want to lose what each of them had worked so hard to build.
Sitting at the bottom of Sylvan lake completely lifeless were the three women. A month had passed since they had been murdered. One evening a fog came over the town and it surrounded the lake. A storm moved in and lightning had begin to strike all over the mountain and at the base by the lake. It lasted for a little over two hours and after it subsided everything was calm. A white light burst out from the top of the mountain. Anyone who was outside could see it clear as day. The single light broke off into three separate beams. One beam shined straight at the town. The other two beams shined at the houses of Mary and Janice. No one knew what this meant but they had a good idea that it was something terrifying coming their way.
The lights went down and the sky went black. Morning rolled around. Everyone in the city went about their normal days. When the manager arrived at the bank the vault was open. He rushed in and looked around. Nothing seemed to be missing and he didn’t see any footprints. When the owner of the lumber mill arrived piles of wood had been pushed over and there was a mess everywhere. It took all day to clean up the mill and to go through the bank, with a fine tooth comb, to make sure nothing was missing. The day came to an end and each of them were the last to leave their jobs. Both men had decided to go to the local tavern and knock back a couple cold ones.
They weren’t sure what was going on but something felt strange. It didn’t just feel strange with them but a general feeling over the entire town. A couple beers sipped down and off each one went to their homes. They decided to walk since they weren’t to far and that would alleviate either one from getting into any serious trouble. At home they both took off their jackets and went to the kitchen to grab some tea. A door slammed in each house. They went looking around but couldn’t see anything. Heading back to the kitchen each man saw his deceased wife standing in the kitchen. They dropped their glasses and the ceramic shattered with tea spilling everywhere. In absolute shock they didn’t know what to do. They were speechless and motionless. Both of the women began talking in a demonic tone. Each of them then said, “You have abandoned me. You left me for dead. I will not kill you but I will curse you, for the rest of your miserable life.” After that the house went black and then the lights came back on. Each of the women were gone.
The next day each man went into his job. The bank manager saw that the vault was open again. Money was gone and many social security boxes had been broken in to. Shortly after that fire alarms were ringing at the mill. The entire plant was on fire. Both men were losing everything they had built right before their eyes. In the end the mill burnt down and the bank closed. Of course new ones opened up and were rebuilt but that didn’t mean anything for these poor souls. They had been cursed and damned for eternity. Each man lost his house and everything they owned. They left the town and were never heard from again. The witches sat upon their tower, at the top of Harney Peak, watching as each man wandered down the road and into the cold dark night. All three witches let out a chilling cackle.
No one ever learned how they became witches, except something happened that evening, when the storm came. It but a spell on them and gave them dark magic. Magic they could now use against the town. No one was going to be safe from their terror. They sent a curse down on the town. Anyone who moved there would be haunted every day. Their lives would be miserable and sadness would consume them. During the next few years, many suicides were reported. Every year two or three drownings would happen at the lake and at least one person would die on the trail. Always at night is when everything occurred. Of course, like human nature, we never learn and brave souls would try to trick the “ghosts”. Ghosts are what they were referred to as but it wouldn’t be much longer before everyone knew what lived at the top of the mountain, or should I say, who lived at the top of the mountain.
It was getting closer to Christmas and all the people in town were lighting up their houses and decorating their yards. Trees were shining brightly and ornaments were hanging in every window. Christmas time is always a wonderful part of the year. This time of the season Mary and Janice would be waist deep in baskets of Christmas goodies. Instead they were standing up at the top of Harney Peak, looking down on the town, hating every person down there. Hating because all of those horrible souls down there did this to them. They turned this innocent women into witches, monsters, might even be a better term. Janice, Mary and Tiffany were waiting until the town was fast asleep. It was around midnight when the town fell silent. Not a rustle in a dumpster or crashing of broken glass at the bar. The witches came down from their tower to the town.
All three witches walked down main street and looked around the town they once loved. It looked about the same. The only things that have changed is the new mill that was owned by someone else and the bank that once stood on the corner of main and second was no longer there. A new bank had been built a couple blocks down and of course had a new owner. The three women walked down first street and sent out a curse. All who lived on this street would have night terrors for as long as they lived. Men, women, children it didn’t matter. The skipped two streets and went to the fourth block. The went to the first house. The man who lived here was named Jim. He used to work at the bank and was one of the first to condemn them as witches. Janice and Mary flew up on the roof and began tapping with their feet. Jim awoke and came outside to see what was going on. When he opened the door Tiffany was standing their with eyes as black as the night. She slashed at him with her long finger nails and his skin began to bubble. He yelled out in agony and she shoved him back in the house and shut the door. Once inside the screams stopped. Silence filled the house and she walked back out smiling.
They moved on the to the next house. A family lived here. Their last name was Bergers. A father, mother and two younger sons lived here. Well the sons weren’t so young anymore. They had grown up quite a bit since the women had last seen them. This family however were the ones that started the conspiracy. The rumor mill started here and these three witches were going to make sure it ended here. They didn’twant anyone else ending up like they did just because the Bergers had a grudge against them. Janice, Tiffany and Mary walked in to the house. The door was locked but their witches. A simple lock isn’t going to stop them. They went to the parents room first. One witch on each side of the bed and they let out a scream that blew everyone’s ear drums out in the house. The two parents sat up and saw, what they could of sworn to be ghosts, standing in front of them. The witches reached their hands in the air and then pointed them at the parents. They slowly said, “For this the house will burn. For hate the hearts of young will harden. For jealousy you all will die”. The children never woke up. The witches sent a spell over them to stop their hearts so they didn’t have to endure the torture that was going to come next. The witches walked out and slammed the bedroom door. They walked downstairs and went out on the porch. At that moment the entire house lit on fire. None of the women ever looked back at the house. They kept on walking.
The sun was beginning to come up and it was time for them to go back to the tower. Their work here was done. Each of them vowed to never hurt another person in the town again but whoever came on to the mountain would not be safe. They never killed during the day. The sun didn’t work in their favor. They only hunted at night and rarely at that. They would condemn evil souls and no one else.
John and Lindsey were avid hikers. They loved the outdoors and loved adventures. It was by far they’re favorite hobby. John and Lindsey had been seeing each other for almost five years now and there just never seemed to be a time where marriage seemed to work its way in. Sure they had thought about it and even talked it over on numerous occasions. For now they decided just to stay as boyfriend and girlfriend and the future would work itself out. No need to rush something that is meant to be. They lived in Deadwood, South Dakota. Deadwood is well known gambling town and is also located in the Black Hills. It isn’t to far from Custer State Park. John and Lindsey had just moved here from Montana. Montana has the same mountainous region as the Black Hills so it wasn’t to much of a culture shock for either one of them. They had heard how tall Harney Peak was and about this beautiful lake that sat at the bottom. John told Lindsey that they should go up there this coming weekend since they both didn’t have to work. She agreed, thinking that was a marvelous idea. This would be their first outing since moving to Deadwood. Both were itching to get going.
Friday night came and each of them packed up the necessities for the all day hike. Mainly what they needed was water and some food to munch on during the hike. Hiking Harney Peak isn’t that strenuous. It’s more distance and perseverance than anything. There is a path all the way up and down the mountain. After getting both of their backpacks arranged they ate dinner and decided to call it an early night. John wanted to head out early to drive up there and get a start. Five o’clock rolled around and both their alarm clocks went off. Lindsey hit the snooze a couple times while John was up and at it. He went into the kitchen and poured two hot cups of coffee and cooked up some eggs and bacon for each of them. That right there is the true breakfast of champions. Even if bacon is allegedly bad for you, we’re all dying anyways, aren’t we?
Now that tummies were full and hearts were happy, John loaded up the car. They had a nice little all wheel drive Subaru Outback. It really is a terrific car for any type of terrain and weather. That’s all John has ever drove and plus they last forever. They both hopped in the car and made their way towards Harney Peak. Lindsey told John how excited she was to get moving on the trail. They missed being outside and breathing in that fresh nature air. It was about a thirty to forty-five minute drive. Once John pulled into the main parking lot at Sylvan Lake they both were in awe. It was such a beautiful area. The lake was completely still and there were reflections of the amazing rocks that shot up in to the air that surrounded the lake. There’s a path that goes all the way around the lake. It is a rather easy walk but the views from all sides are incredible.
John parked the car. They both stepped out and breathed in the amazingly clean air. The air up in the hills, forest or anywhere away from the city for that matter, always seemed more pure and clean. John and Lindsey grabbed their backpacks and headed towards the start of the trail. They gave each other a kiss and with smiles on both their faces they were off. The sites on the trail were just as impressive as the lake itself. Enormous rocks surrounded the path most of the way up the mountain. Not to mention when you get to a certain spot you can see the Cathedral Spires. Those are a head turner just by themselves. As they were walking up a cold wind blew threw the area. Rather strange for it being almost eighty degrees that day. John had a surprise for Lindsey. He had packed their tent so once they finished the hike they could camp down by the lake under the star light. He wasn’t going to tell her until they reached the top. A little incentive to make it back down to the bottom in a reasonable amount of time. This would be one weekend they would never forget….or maybe never return.
John and Lindsey jumped out of their tent. John had grabbed a flashlight and was shining it all around their campsite. The laughs sounded human but different. They had a evilness to them. A branch snapped behind their tent. John told Lindsey to stay there and he would go check it out. When he got back there, the only thing moving around, was a raccoon. A small animal giving them heart attacks. Of course it wasn’t just a raccoon that was among them. They were soon going to find out. This nice starlight camping adventure was soon going to become a nightmare.
Mary, Janice and Tiffany flew up in the air and circled the tent. They didn’t make a whistling sound or a single peep. They didn’t want to be heard and certainly didn’t want to be seen. If spotted or even had a picture taken of them, they would be more then ghosts, they would be real to everyone in the world now. They landed down about one hundred yards behind where John and Lindsey were camping. Their next move was to put a spell on both of them. Nothing to terrible and something that wouldn’t last very long. They decided to use the apparition spell. This would bring forth visions in to both of their minds and make them see things that weren’t real. It would be something like a crazy LSD trip, to put it into perspective. Mary cast out the spell on them. She seemed to be the ring leader of the bunch and, for whatever reason, always was the most powerful. She walked up closer to the tent and saw John trying to make another fire. Both John and Lindsey were scared and thought maybe a little extra light could help put their nerves at ease. Mary said in a soft voice, “visions in the night, bring forth the light and show the us all terror and fright”.
John sparked the fire and saw the devils face erupt out of the flames. He jumped back and yelled. He ran to Lindsey and asked if she saw the face in the fire. She shook her head and told him that there wasn’t anything there. A couple minutes later Lindsey unzipped the tent to go inside and a demonic face jumped out at her form inside the tent. She screamed and fell back, almost into the fire. She looked at John and he knew she saw something too. Next Janice brought forth the water lichen. Of course this water werewolf wasn’t real, only a vision, but it was terrifying and served it’s purpose quite well. John and Lindsey went to go pack their bags. There’s no way they could stay here any longer. A wonderful day had turned into a scary night. Lindsey almost had her bag packed when she heard something in the water. She stepped out from the tent and grabbed a flashlight.
She walked towards the water and a giant wave came crashing in on her. She fell down again and looked back up towards the tent. John was still finishing packing up his bag. Lindsey went to get up and saw the werewolf standing in the water. Dripping with water and steam coming off of his head. She screamed for John and he came running down the beach. He pulled her up and saw the werewolf standing there as well. John said screw out belongings. He had the car keys in his pocket and they both ran to the car. John fired up the engine and pulled out of the parking lot.
They were heading down the entry way in to the park when a tree crashed down and caught the back end of their car. It broke the back window and tore the rear bumper off. That didn’t stop them. They kept driving as fast as that car would let them go. Mary, Janice and Tiffany flew back up to their tower. It was a nice change of pace to bring fear into some pesky humans and not actually hurt them. Once they were up at the tower the walked to the top and watched John and Lindsey’s car race down the road and on to the main highway. The witches all let out their infamous cackle and walked back down to the basement as the sun was coming up. They would wait down there until the time called for them to return again.