Sulphur Creek Road doesn’t appear on old maps, though there’s a church along it that has had a congregation for a hundred and fifty years. It stretches between Old Hickory Boulevard and Eatons Creek Road, winding through that infamous northwest Davidson County terrain. Sharp hills, a tight hollow, turns that run you straight into trouble before you see it coming. A hundred years ago, it ran between land the Simpkinses owned and land the Hazlewoods owned.
They never used it.
A hundred and fifty years ago, it was common to smell the sour bite of mash in the still out there, which meant armed men with something to hide.
Two hundred years ago, it was difficult for white men to travel into this area, one of the last places the previous inhabitants were routed out of, those who did not disappear.
A long time ago, rumor started to spread that a person didn’t have to go very far north to find freedom, that there was, for those brave enough to make a break for it, a place just outside of town, not quite to Ashland City, where, if you could get there, they couldn’t get you back.
It only took two guns, they said, to defend it, the strategic advantage was so great. One at the north end of the hollow, up in the hill, and the other at the south end. Like early snipers, they could pick a group of men on horseback off before the riders even knew what direction the gunfire came from.
They say, even now, if you drive Sulphur Creek Road after dark, with you windows down and your radio off, you’ll often catch a muzzle flash and hear the shot fired right at you, even if the folks who guard this place can no longer hurt you.
Even now, especially after dark, this is not a place strangers are welcome.