Big Ditch

A 75 Year Old Video of Big Ditch

    In the early summer of June 1901, on a stormy night, all the citizens of Shelby County were secure in their homes. The rain began as a slow drizzle, but around midnight the skies seem to open and a terrible rain storm continued for hours. It was known as a "gulley-washer."
    The farmers had left their plows and other farm tools in the area where they had been working. Just as the rain began they returned to their homes for the night. The next morning they returned to discover their tools has been washed away, never to be recovered. Also, they noticed a calm, yet in the distance they heard a running of water. To their amazement they discovered that a huge gorge had been formed --- 300 yards long, 100 yards across and deep enough to set a two story house. Before the rains came, the land was flat and sandy.
    As news seemed to travel, people rushed to the site to observe what had occurred on that stormy night. As someone stated "that sure is a BIG DITCH," and from that moment after and for years to come, and even today it is still known as Big Ditch. The wash-out scared every body, and it  has been said that Mr. Hayes, the owner of the property, was so scared that he sold the property and moved to town immediately. Farming was paralyzed a whole year due to the flood.
    Later, Big Ditch became a popular place for churches, clubs and other groups to hold picnics and gatherings during the days of the horses, buggies, Model T’s and Model A’s.
    As a few fertile years passed, the deep canyon-like walls drop straight down to a valley floor where wild grapes grew among the pine trees and brushes. A spring of cool clear water ran through the ditch with tributaries branching off from the main ditch.
    In the 30’s and 40’s, Big Ditch was a place for Shelby County youngsters to gather for outings and have a picnic. During the 50’s and beyond, due to neglect, Big Ditch was beginning to be overgrown with brush, weeds and grass. People were using it as dumping place for garbage and junk.
    Today, Big Ditch is only a memory of those who visited the site. It is believed it no longer exists. If anyone has photos or can add to this writing, please email

    We purchased land in '93, and have since built a house upon a hill next to Big Ditch. I'm just letting you know that the 'ditch' is still very much there. The ditch begins at one end of our 76-acre plot and extends completely to the other end. Plant-life has flourished due to the fertility of the soil from the springs, but the ditch is as deep as it ever was, 30 to 35 ft drop-offs in some places, with an 8ft waterfall. There are old initials on the aged trees here and there.  I'm currently 23 and my brother and sister and I have done alot of growing up in the ditch.
    As far as dumping is concerned... there's not really trash, but there is an old 50's model car and a plethora of interesting artifacts seem to uncover themselves every now and then. My grandmother, Margie Geraldine Byford Pryor, grew up and went to school in the area. She has her own memories of Big Ditch... and she has visited it recently and claimed it is as deep as ever. Once you get past the wood's edge, the brush isn't bad in most places, and the water still runs clear and cool through the heart of it.
 Thanks, The Pryor Family