North Carolina March 16, 2015
These 15 Terrifying Things In North Carolina May Haunt Your Dreams
Since I was a young girl, I’ve been told the haunting stories, legends, and myths of North Carolina. It starts with grandparents or uncles trying to get a good spook in, but then, for me at least, it turned into me having to know the WHOLE story. While most children would shy away and say ‘that’s scary!’ I asked for books on the subject and read them front to back in one sitting. I have always been captivated by just HOW intriguing, mysterious, and haunted North Carolina is.
Maybe it’s our state’s backdrop of spooky, ever-expansive marshes to the east, and mysterious, enchanted mountains to the west. Maybe, North Carolina just has so much history, and mystery, the ghosts; the ‘monsters’, the sirens and the headless feel just at home here as we do.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
15. Kicking off this list with one of the most infamous, and mysterious NC legends, The Devil's Tramping Ground is a 40-foot diameter circle completely absent of life. Nothing will grow here. Leave something in the circle, and legend says it will be thrown out the next day. Apparently, the devil needs plenty of room to dance at night.
14. Are they aliens? Are they ghosts? Is it just some type of 'marsh gas?' For over 100 years, no one has been able to figure out what the Brown Mountain Lights are. Appearing after sunset, the lights change in size, color, and shape. Legends link the lights to 'ghost maidens' searching for their loved ones after a great battle of The Cherokee and Catawba.
13. Spanning 112,000 acres along NC's northern border, The Great Dismal swamp is SO spooky and mysterious it inspired a Harriet Beecher Stowe novel. While Stowe was intrigued about the mysteries of runaway slaves, known as 'maroons' who started completely isolated lives in various parts of the swamp, their legend only skims the surface of just how haunted this place is. Visitors have reported hearing strange sounds, seeing lights, and seeing ghosts. Would you ever canoe through here at night? I say-NO!
12. What should have been a lovely prom night ended abruptly as Mary Lydia Jones' date crashed his car after losing control on a sharp curve. Lydia's date died instantly, but she managed to pry herself out of the car and in the pouring rain and a blood-soaked prom dress, begged and pleaded for passerby's to help. She died shortly after the wreck. Locals were furious and demanded a bridge be constructed to prevent another wreck on the curve. And so became Lydia's Bridge in Jamestown. To this day, on a rainy night beneath a full moon, if you travel down to the tunnel you will see Lydia trying to flag down a ride. The phantom hitchhiker has even been said to get in the backseat of people's cars, trying to finally make it to her prom.
13. All ghosts aside, Valle Crucis is home to something EXTRA terrifying, a 'demon dog' that chases after your car, and keeps up, despite HOW fast you are driving. Legend says if you drive past an old stone cemetery high up in this mountain town, the dog will leap from behind a headstone and start chasing you. People have reported seeing this demon dog, and in demon dog fashion, it has large glowing eyes and yellow teeth.
12. The legend of the Siren of the French Broad River dates back to 1845. This beautiful, dark-skinned, dark-haired woman comes to male hikers in their dreams and steps in and out of their consciousness until they are completely captivated and consumed by who this figure could be. Enchanting her victims for days, the Siren of the French Broad leaves the men staring into pools of water and finding themselves continually getting closer and closer to the river. Once fully captivated, she appears to them in full form, naked, and coming out of the water. As soon as they reach for her, her warm skin becomes scaly cold flesh and in one instant they are yanked into the water by a 'monster.'
11. Since we're on the subject of 'not ghosts,' lets discuss the super mysterious moon-eyed people and their structures. Their legend starts with the Cherokee, who reported these 'people' had extremely pale white skin and could not see in the daylight. Being completely nocturnal and living in underground caves, the Cherokee named them the 'moon-eyed' people. These mysterious stone structures, rumored to be built by the moon-eyed people, can be found throughout the southern Appalachian region and no one knows...how they came to be...and who else could have built them. WEIRD!
10. My first Carolina ghost story was of course, The Pink Lady of the Grove Park Inn. Perhaps a debutante, perhaps a scorned secret lover, this young woman fell to her death from a 5th floor overlook. Seen in a pink ball gown, or just with a pink 'aura' around her figure, she is said to be good-natured and takes kindly to children. One guest even left a note at the front desk, thanking the 'lady in pink' for playing with his children during his stay. Employees treat the pink lady like she is one of them. Her 'laid back' fun spirit is known to play pranks and take a particular fascination with room 545.
9. A mysterious man challenged the overconfident and undefeated Jesse Elliot to a horse race one day. His wife was appalled he was racing on a Sunday, but Jesse was determined to win. As the race began, the stranger, who was riding a large black stallion, stayed back the majority of the race. As Jesse neared the finish line, confident in his victory, the other horse flew with evil speed past Jesse. Jesse's horse, frightened, dug its hoofs into the ground and threw Jesse into a tree killing him instantly. To this day, the hoof prints can still be seen in the town of Bath. Nothing will grow here. Legend says the mysterious 'rider' carried Jesse's soul to hell.
8. Straight from my hometown, The Little Red Man was one of Winston-Salem's most beloved ghosts. The tale starts in Old Salem, when this house was used as a communal house for single men, known as the Single Brothers House. Andreas Kesmer was excavating a new foundation for an addition when he was caught under a falling bank of earth and died. The Little Red Man got his name from appearing in a red cap; similar to the one Brother Kesmer was wearing at the time of his death. For years afterward, a tap would be heard that resembled the sound of his hammer. Several people report coming into contact with The Little Red Man, including the minister that summoned him to leave the house. He has not been seen since.
7. After a fire destroyed an orphanage outside of Raleigh, and sadly, killed several children who called this place home, locals began to notice something strange. Weeks after, in the field where the fire took place, the smell of smoke was so strong it would fill up their lungs and they would violently cough. After the coughing subsided, a quiet cry floated through the air. The cries began to multiply and all at once there were deafening screams and cries throughout the field. Crybaby Lane is a truly tragic ghost story, not many people are able to stay in the field for long.
6. Long before the days of rock climbing, in 1806 and 1811, Chimney Rock was home to some seriously BIZARRE sightings. We are not talking ghosts, we are talking tiny winged 'apparitions' that ranged from the age of infant to adult, and floated atop the rock putting on a spectacle for six documented viewers who were completely in awe. After ascending back to 'heaven', a few years later in 1811 a 'battle' was witnessed between men on winged horses. The sounds of clashing metal were heard. Witnesses even resorted to blaming a time-space break where they became witnesses to the not-so-distant Revolutionary War. Time travel, angels, winged horses, Chimney Rock is now a state park, but several people noted the apparitions.
5. The Governor of Virginia had had enough of Edward Teach, or Blackbeard's, murders, pillaging, and robbery, so he sent Lieutenant Robert Maynard to put an end to this. After a gruesome, bloody battle well fought by both sides Maynard was victorious after beheading Blackbeard and throwing his body overboard. Blackbeard's ghost returned to Teach's Hole, his favorite hideaway, where he has been seen searching for his head, and he's still not quite over that defeat.
4. Poor Joe Baldwin. One minute he is sleeping soundly in his caboose, the next it becomes detached from the train. Knowing another train would soon be approaching, Joe stood on the back of the caboose and waved his light back and forth. The engineer of the approaching train saw the frantic Joe, and his waving light, he braked the train but it was too late. Pounds and pounds of steel were no match for Joe, and his head was decapitated, tumbling down into the swamps never to be found again. The Maco Lights, thought to be ghost Joe searching for his head, are a real NC legend, although the waving lights were seen for over 100 years, they have not been seen since 1977. It remains a legend passed down through generations of native families.
3. For a bit of comic relief, lets talk about another strange mountain story involving a 'half-ape, half-man' named Boojum. Sure, each state has a Big Foot story, but North Carolina's involves a LOVE story. The beast boojum was known to be very greedy, he loved rubies and collected glass bottles. He also, loved women, and would spy on them bathing. One day Annie saw Boojum spying on her and she fell in love with his hopeless eyes. Boojum and Annie lived a happy life together, except when he would leave her at night to hunt for rubies. Annie would call for him, hootin' and hollerin' out in the woods and locals coined the term 'hootenanny.' While this is mainly the stuff of myths, tales, and comic strips, ape-like creatures are still 'spotted' in the area to this day.
2. Just like Boojum, greed overtook the captain of a vessel to the New World. Noticing his passengers had a substantial amount of gold, wealth, and jewels on them, the captain and his crew devised a sinister plan to make it all theirs. While the passengers slept soundly, the captain and his crew began to slit the throats of each man, woman, and child aboard. Feeling successful, and newly wealthy, the murderers hopped on a small boat with their loot and set the ship on fire. As they approached the coast of the Outer Banks, they noticed something strange. The burning ship was heading right towards them as if someone was steering it. The ship collided with the greedy crew members, and both sank. Remains washed ashore the next day on Ockracoke. It is said that during the first new moon in early September, you can witness the ghastly, ghostly burning ship in the distant ocean.
1. George Vanderbilt decided, at the age of 26, he wanted a vacation home in the North Carolina Mountains. So he built the largest privately-owned home in America and he and his wife, Edith, seem to have never wanted to leave. The swimming pool is the most haunted room in the Biltmore Estate, and also where, apparently, Edith threw some killer pool parties. Laughing, splashing, and yelling are frequently heard from this room. Also, it seems Edith still has a knack for nagging George in the afterlife. George would often retreat to his library before a big storm; his ghost has been spotted continuing this habit. Edith would summon George to one of her pool parties, and to this day, she is still throwing some AWESOME parties because visitors and guests have heard her calling for 'George." The estate has been passed down through the family and eventually became open to the public. As North Carolina's wealthiest ghosts, can you really blame them for never wanting to leave?
While some of these are spooky, some are silly, and some are terrifying, it’s amazing the rich legends we have here in our beloved, haunted state. Now it’s your turn. I want to hear your NC ghost stories, legends, and tales in the comments! You know I love a good ghost(or demon dog) story.