Darren Shell - aka GraveDigger operates Willow Grove Boat Dock. He is also an author, historian, tour guide and an old friend. He also married another old friend that I grew up with, Beth Myers Shell. Myself and my cousin Tina Young Hall share a lot of memories with Beth.
On September 16th Darren gave myself and a few members of my family a private tour. We listened as he recounted stories of Dale Hollow Lake, it's creation in the 1940's and the lives effected. A town moved, and it's remains buried beneath the waters of beautiful Dale Hollow.
Not only the people and animals moved, the graves also had to be moved...or at least the attempt to move them. Many were moved to nearby St John's Cemetery, many of my relatives buried there, including my great - great - great grandparents.
Darren as GraveDigger touched on this history, his character a reflection of those who had to move the graves.
My grandfather, Thomas "Tom" Vaughn, Papa as we called him, would have been one of those who helped to move the graves..one of the real GraveDiggers.
The tour was more than a tourist stop for me, more than a glimpse into history, it was a step back into my own pre-history.
I wanted to do more than take the tour and report...I'll have a full interview with Darren Shell for this years Halloween Special.
A great tour for the young and old...if your in the area, I know you will enjoy as I have.
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Darren Shell lives and works at his family-run marina on Dale Hollow Lake in middle Tennessee.
He has written a number of books in both fiction and Nonfiction. His stories and lectures about the lake
and local history have gained him the title of "Gravedigger" in surrounding communities.
Most days you can find him at the marina…if he's not out "digging".
Halloween Special 2007
Darren's Books Include: Stories From Dale Hollow, The Old Lady of the Lake, The Prophesy Rhymes of Tal Kator, Graveyards of East Clay County, Tennessee, The Gravedigger's Guide to Dale Hollow Lake, Prophesy Rhymes of Tolk's Tomb, Graveyard Tour, Haunted Dale Hollow.
The casket of "Eddie Irons" during one of his removals.