Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Shadow Horse and Rider of Blanding Street

by Paul Armstrong
October 31, 2018 
(modified December 18, 2018)

"Ghost Rider Part 1" by Joanna Dymek.  Used by permission.
It was Saturday evening, May 29, 1915, and a female resident of Blanding Street, near its intersection with Bull, was taking an after-dinner stroll with a friend.  As they walked west along Blanding, they beheld a strange sight in the sky above the corner of Blanding and Sumter Streets.  The image of a giant, iron-gray horse and its rider, a woman wearing a dark riding habit, was clearly visible to both of the strolling companions.  They marveled at what they saw and spread the news to neighbors who shortly formed a crowd.  All through the evening until around 10 PM a crowd of children, men, and women gathered near the corner of Blanding and Bull Streets to get a view for themselves of the shadow horse and rider.

Through the next day the story spread rapidly and, on Sunday evening, a crowd of hundreds formed to see the shadowy wonder.  Some said the apparition was that of Emily Geiger avoiding the British to carry General Greene’s message to the Carolina Gamecock, Thomas Sumter. Others said it might be Joan of Arc providing relief to Orléans. In short, the novelty provided a night of merriment for the crowds that Sunday evening.

A writer for the Columbia Record explained that the illusion was formed by a dark shadow falling aslant across the foliage of a hackberry tree lit by a street lamp.  But this did not deter the citizens who continued to gather to view the vision which continued to be visible nightly into July.

  1. Dymek, Joanna. “Ghost Rider Part 1." https://www.artgallery.co.uk/artist/joanna_dymek (accessed December 18, 2018)
  2. “Shadow Horse Woman Rider a Curious Sight.” The Columbia Record (Columbia, South Carolina), May 30, 1915, page 12. 
  3. “Shadow Horse of Blanding St Viewed by Many.” The Columbia Record (Columbia, South Carolina), May 31, 1915, page 2. 
  4. “Skeleton is Left of Shadow Horse.” The State (Columbia, South Carolina), July 13, 1916, page 10. 


  1. Paul, I had someone email me about some tags for a horse from Columbia in 1919. I stumbled upon your blog and wondered if you could take a look at them. vannl@mailbox.sc.edu


    1. For other readers' benefit, the tag Lori was referring to turned out to be a license for a one-horse dray to operate within the city. A dray was a wagon or cart – and later a truck – that was used for local hauling of goods such as between a warehouse and a long-haul provider depot such as a freight train station or steamboat dock. It was a round token with the lettering, "1HD 1919 Columbia, SC". 1919 was the year it was issued. There was also a license for a two-horse dray, "2HD".