A few miles outside of Bell City there was Coven State Forest. It was 50 miles of wilderness, like an apology on behalf of the citizens for the burned-out post-industrial center it neighbored. A few hiking trails criss-crossed it, with a couple of ranger stations positioned along the perimeter as way points for hikers either coming or going.

When the Bell family originally settled the area in the early 1800s, it had all been like Coven, but as the urban area grew, attracting people with promises of jobs and cheap land, the town sprawled. Factories and chemical processing plants (the majority of which the Bell's owned) sprung up. Apartments, municipal utilities, department stores, and suburbs steadily grew in over the next hundred years. The population swelled.

But still the area of Coven remained untouched. In the 1970s the Bell family gave the land to the government on the condition that it remained forever-wild. The government set up the ranger stations and trails. It invited hikers and campers, and organized the search crews whenever people went missing.

Locally, the woods had a reputation dating back to the earliest Bell settlement.

#thewindthenight #bellcity