Nothing can last forever, and the decrepit ruins of these North Carolina ghost towns are an eerie reminder of just that. Some became submerged below water due to the creation of lakes for hydro-energy. Others towns fell victim to bloody circumstances during the Civil War. One of these ghost towns, and its residents, disappeared without a trace and remains an infamous mystery to this day. The past sure is eerie, but sometimes interesting. Here are eleven ghost towns you’ll find in North Carolina.
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:
1. Buffalo City
Once a thriving logging town turned Moonshine Captial of the United States, Buffalo City has now completely disappeared beneath the swampy, dense brush of Dare County that was once inhabited by several residents. Founded after the Civil War, both logging and moonshine provided the income for this city. After successful attempts at dodging Federal raids, one raid proved to be successful and the whole income of this Moonshine Capital was shut down over night.
2. Brunswick Town
Brunswick Town was once a thriving port city and seat of political rulings for southeastern North Carolina. It's hard to believe this colonial ghost town was once inhabited by the first royal governor, George Burrington. The British invasion caused most residents to flee the thriving town and eventually Brunswick became nothing more than a ghost town. Today, you can see the ruins of both residential and commercial buildings. The town has even been used on the show Sleepy Hollow.
While Cataloochee is now home to recreational activities and beautiful scenery...its original residents are nowhere to be found. Behind the Smoky Mountain beauty is a deep history. Cataloochee was once a thriving Cherokee hunting ground turned pilgrim settlement. Over the years the settlers found much prosperity due to fertile grounds for growing crops and an abundance of wild game hunting. During the Civil War most able bodied men in the town left to fight. Union raids left the town and its residents disheveled. Even after barely surviving the Civil War, the residents returned to try and establish some prosperity. Catalooche was a succesful logging town and by the early 20th century 95% of households were estimated to be selling or making moonshine. Even into the early 90's the few residents who still remained were forced to move or sell their land due to a strict enforcement of logging laws that turned this area into a national park. Today you can enjoy the natural beauty...while still catching sight of an abandoned schoolhouse, farm buildings, and houses.
4. Diamond City
What was once the most populated Outer Banks town is now completely desolate due to a hurricane. Diamond City was a settlement on the eastern end of Shackleford Banks. In August 1899 a large hurricane struck the land and the 500 or so residents fled the area for safety. By 1902 even the last remaining residents had left and begun to build new lives, and new homes in Morehead City or Harkers Island. Today there are no remnants of this once thriving town. Shackleford Banks is only accessible by boat.
You can only see the remaining bits of Judson when Lake Fontana is extremely low. This once small, mountain town, was submerged underwater when Fontana Dam was built.
6. Lost Cove
Lost Cove is located on the NC-TN border in Yancey County. As is the case with much of western, NC, moonshining dominated the income of this small mountain town. Due to a boundary dispute and isolation of Lost Cove...many residents chose to leave and move on to bigger and more accessible cities and towns. Lost Cove was inhabited by the last remaining residents until 1958. Today, many cabins, buildings, and even a car sit forgotten along the quiet mountainside. It's very eerie here!
Mortimer was once a thriving mill town in Caldwell County. After a flood of epic sized proportions the 800 residents that survived the flood were forced to abandon their homes and lives. There are several remains left today that still speak eerie echoes of life. You can see former machinery from the mills and the foundation of buildings both residential, commercial, and for the mill.
Portsmouth is located on the Outer Banks. Once a thriving fishing and shipping town. At one point, it was one of the most important ports of entry along the Atlantic Coast. Due to severe hurricanes, the water around the harbor began to shoal up...lessening the desire of Portsmouth as a point of entry. Then, the Civil War brought much bloodshed to the town causing residents to flee. The town was completely abandoned by 1971 and is now part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore.
9. Roanoke Colony
Perhaps the most infamous North Carolina 'ghost town' the mysteriously abandoned Roanoke Colony is rooted in mystery and folkflore. After John White established the colony, he left his daughter and newly born granddaughter, Virginia Dare, along with 115 settlers to go back to England. The colonist feared for their lives due to Native Americans, forcing White to return to England and ask for help and explain the dire situation. When White returned three years later, on the date of his granddaugther's third birthday, he found only an abandoned colony. The words 'Croatoan' were carved on a tree as well as the words 'Cro.' The houses and buildings were dismantled...meaning their departure was not rushed. Due to an incoming storm, White was never able to search the surrounding land to discover the fate of his family or the other settlers. Today, The Lost Colony is perhaps America's first missing persons case. Each summer the 'tell' of the Lost Colony is reenacted in a dramatic play. There are several rumors and suspicions surrounding the colonists disappearance. The two main ones are that the settlers took refuge with the Croatoans, or that they were savagely murdered by Native Americans.
Located on Hazel Creek in Swain County, Proctor is another town that merely vanished due to the creation of Fontana Lake. This bustling mill town was submerged and flooded after Fontana was created to provide electricity. Today, 'Proctor' gets notoriety from a (probably fake image) of a 700 pound snake that was said to have been pulled out of Lake Proctor.
11. Henry River Mill Village
While Henry River received its fame as District 12 in the Hunger Games, this ghost town is an eerie reminder of an industrial past. This small textile village had its own mill, dam, water source, and even began to get walkways and a company store. The mill shutdown in the 1960's and eventually burned in 1977. Today former mill houses remain and the town is on the National Register of Historic Places.
What did you think of our list? Did we leave anything out? Tell us in the comments below!