During his life, H. P. Lovecraft was an impoverished writer who at times made ends meet by "revising" (*cough*ghostwriting*cough*) stories for more literarily-challenged authors.
One of them was Zealia Bishop (nee Reed).
She hired Lovecraft to do a number of stories for her based on minimal premises or plot synopses that she provided for him. Unfortunately, she didn’t pay Lovecraft in a timely manner, and he foreswore working for her.
One of the stories he wrote for her–The Mound–is regarded as one of Lovecraft’s best. In it, as in only two other stories (At The Mountains Of Madness, The Shadow Out Of Time), he envisions an entire non-human civilization. Most remarkably, in The Mound we actually get the narrative of a human character who lives in the eldritch society for some time–rather than just an after-the-fact summary of what the culture was like.
Though much of the tale deals with a hidden, underground civilization, The Mound is set in the town of Binger, Oklahoma. Binger ("Bing-er")–unlike Arkham and other Lovecraft locations–is a real town, just over 60 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, and it is located in the Oklahoma mound country.
The title of the story refers to one of the Indian mounds in Caddo County, Oklahoma. Specifically, it refers to a mound that Zealia Bishop mentioned to Lovecraft in her premise for the story:
There is an Indian mound near here, which is haunted by a headless ghost. Sometimes it is a woman (S. T Joshi, H. P. Lovecraft: A Life, 467).
Pretty thin for a story premise, huh! It’s also one that Lovecraft found really dull–just another ghost story. So he made up a whole non-human civilization and a 25,000-word novella was an explanation for the premise.
In the story, Lovecraft describes the location of "the mound" this way:
[It was] a huge, lone mound or small hill that rose above the plain about a third of a
mile west of the village—a mound which some thought a product of Nature, but
which others believed to be a burial-place or ceremonial dais constructed by
prehistoric tribes. This mound, the villagers said, was constantly haunted by,
two Indian figures which appeared in alternation; an old man who paced back and
forth along the top from dawn till dusk, regardless of the weather and with only
brief intervals of disappearance, and a squaw who took his place at night with a
blue-flamed torch that glimmered quite continuously till morning. When the moon
was bright the squaw’s peculiar figure could be seen fairly plainly, and over
half the villagers agreed that the apparition was headless.
Now, if you look on GPS/topographical maps of the area around Binger, Oklahoma–like the excellent Delorme Oklahoma guide–you’ll see that ther AIN’T NO mound a third of a mile west of Binger. Lovecraft made that detail up.
If you call the officials in Binger (as I did) to track down what Bishop may have been talking about, it’s easy enough to figure out the mystery.
Ghost Mound is more than a third of a mile west of Binger (as well as a bit north-see map to the left). It’s also not the only death-related mound in the county. There is also "Dead Woman Mound"–so named because a local found the body of a dead woman there an buried her at the site. Dead Woman Mound, though, is located father north from Binger, and as far as I know does not have ghost legends associated with it. The best evidence I have is that Zealia Bishop was referring to Ghost Mound, with perhaps an admixture of information about Dead Woman Mound.
The thing, though, is that these mounds are real. They really exist. And folks have been visiting them since Lovecraft’s time. In fact, of late they’ve been using GPS devices to go there. Here are the coordinates:
GHOST MOUND: Lat.
DEAD WOMAN MOUND: Lat.
35.47583, Long. -98.50444.
If I’ve read the sattelite maps correctly, this (left) is a picture of Ghost Mound.
I plan to find out for myself, though.
Y’see, I have friends in Oklahoma City, and the next time I go visit them, I plan to stop off on the way and visit Ghost Mound (and Dead Woman Mound).
Hopefully, I won’t get dragged down to the blue-litten realm of K’n-yan!
If I do, DON’T COME AFTER ME! Spare the world and unguessable horror and LEAVE THE MOUND ALONE!