North Carolina is full of spooky folklore, and there’s no way you don’t grow up in the south without hearing your fair share of ghost stories. Each section of the state seems to have its own mystery, tragic death, or angry soul still lurking. Of course, North Carolina has so many ghost stories it would take days to cover it all, but these fifteen prove why North Carolina is truly terrifying.
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. We have a mysterious circle inhabited by the 'Devil.'
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.
2. The dead can hitch a ride with you.
What should have been a lovely prom night ended abruptly as Lydia Jones' date crashed his car after losing control on a sharp curve. Her 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 passerbys to help. She died shortly after the wreck.
Locals were furious and demanded a bridge be constructed to prevent another accident 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.
3. The pirates never left, especially the most merciless of them all, Blackbeard.
The Governor of Virginia had had enough of Blackbeard, AKA, Edward Teach. Between the murders, pillaging, and robbery, something had to be done. So Lieutenant Robert Maynard was sent to put an end to it all.
After a gruesome, bloody battle well fought on both sides, Maynard was victorious and beheaded Blackbeard then tossed his body overboard. Blackbeard’s ghost returned to Teach’s Hole, his favorite hideaway, where he is still seen searching for his head. And he’s not quite over that defeat.
4. We have our very own river siren.
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. She 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, rising out of the water. As soon as they reach for her, her warm skin becomes cold scaly flesh. In an instant they are yanked in the water by a ‘monster.’
5. On certain nights off of the coast you might spot a flaming ghost ship.
The burning ship of Ocracoke is a tragic tale of greed. On a vessel to the New World, the Captain noticed his passengers had a substantial amount of gold, wealth, and jewels. He devised a sinister plan with his crew to take it all.
As the passengers slept soundly, the captain and his crew began to slit the throats of each man, woman, and child. 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 saw something strange. The burning ship was headed right towards them, as if someone was steering it. The ship collided with the greedy crew members, and both sank. The next day remains washed ashore on Ocracoke. It is said that during the first new moon in early September, you can witness the ghastly, ghostly burning ship in the distant ocean.
6. A ghost might just push your car up a hill for you.
While some non-believers say Gravity Hill is simply an illusion, others adamantly defend the legend and the tragic story of Gravity Hill.
It's said that one night on Richfield Road, a young mother and her child were driving and her car stalled. As she got out and attempted to push the car up the hill, a truck came along, hit, and instantly killed both mother and child. Today, put your car in neutral at the bottom, and you will be pushed up the hill. Also, if you put baby powder on your hood, you will see handprints when you get to the top.
7. Wanting a relaxing, ghost free night at a hotel? Think again.
North Carolina has so many haunted hotels, I even did
a whole article
on the subject. The most famous hotel ghost? The Pink Lady of the Grove Park Inn.
8. With your own two eyes you can witness the extra spooky Brown Mountain Lights.
It is aliens, ghosts, or just some type of ‘marsh gas?’ For over 100 years, no one has solved the mystery of the Brown Mountain Lights. 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. See them for yourself.
9. Even the beautiful Chimney Rock was home to some bizarre sightings.
In 1806 and 1811, long before the days of rock climbing, some pretty strange things happened at Chimney Rock. We are not talking ghosts, but 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.
A few years later in 1811 a ‘battle’ was witnessed between men on winged horses. The sounds of clashing metal were heard. Those who saw the event 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.
10. We have an entire haunted highway.
While 'haunted woods' is something we associate with halloween and actors chasing you with chainsaws; a year-round, actual haunted woods exists North Carolina. From inception to today, strange and mysterious occurrences have been reported along this stretch of Highway 64. The 'haunted woods' span from the county seat of Williamson to the town of Jamesville.
For starters, the stretch of swampland is home to mysterious, floating orbs of light. Studied by scientist, shot at by hunters, and witnessed several times, no one can conclude what the 'floating balls of light' actually are. Some believe the lights to be the souls of early settlers who were brutally murdered by Native Americans. It is not only the spirit of humans here. Mysterious white cattle, deers, and dogs have also been seen roaming the swamplands. Like the lights, the mysterious animals go unharmed by bullets. Perhaps the most haunting aspect is the lynching tree. Many men lost their life hanging from the long, twisted limbs. One such victim was said to appear in full form, his ghostly, opaque figure hanging from the tree. The tree is now gone but the area has been referred to as 'the devils gut' due to the high amount of gruesome violence and wandering, lost souls.
11. There is a terrifying, haunted mental ward still in use today.
Broughton Hospital is an active psychiatric hospital located in Morganton. It could possibly be one of the most haunted buildings in the state, but due to its status as an active mental hospital, no paranormal investigations are allowed. Any psychiatric ward with a long history is bound to be filled with its own share of terrifying, sometimes tragic ghost stories.
From the time of its opening, Broughton housed both the timid mentally ill and the deranged, terrifying criminally insane. Broughton nurse, Margaret M. Langley, wrote a book retelling her personal ghost stories along with the stories she has heard from coworkers. The book is titled 'Haunted Broughton.' Margaret works the night shift, and is present to times when paranormal activity is at its peak. While her book is filled with spooky stories, in an interview with Love To Know, she was asked about her scariest personal occurrence. Her answer? "When I was in Bates Building all by myself one night. I had never had a fear of being there alone prior to that night. I was sitting at the conference room table looking over my time sheet and writing down my upcoming vacation days. All of a sudden, a woman's voice spoke in my right ear and called my name in a loud whisper, "Margaret!" It scared me so bad that it felt like an iron prod was shoved up my spine into the base of my skull. (I am sure that was my blood pressure shooting up). I slowly rose from my seat and, almost as if in a daze, walked over to the desk, replaced the time book and left the conference room. As I walked down the hallway to exit the building, I held my breath and kept looking behind me. At the door, I could not get my key in fast enough; it didn't want to go in! Finally, I got the lock turned, and out the door I went. I never went into that building alone again. It was an event I will never forget, ever."
12. An entire colony vanished into thin air.
In 1587, 117 men, women, and children landed ashore Roanoke Island. The settlers were the first permanent settlement in the Americas. Recruited by Sir Walter Raleigh, the well-known among these settlers were British ally, Indian Chief Manteo, John White and his pregnant daughter Eleanor Dare. Eleanor gave birth to Virginia Dare, the first English child born on American soil.
Shortly after they began to establish their colony, John decided to sail to England and gather supplies. Three years later, on his granddaughter's third birthday, John landed ashore to find everyone had vanished. The original colony was deserted and overgrown with brush. John had no clear sign of where his family had disappeared to besides two carvings. On one of the palisades he found the word "CROATOAN" carved and on a nearby tree the letters "CRO" carved. An oncoming hurricane prevented John from seeing if his family had ventured inland, or if anyone was still alive. John returned to England and died a few years later, never knowing the fate of the 118 settlers. To this day, The Lost Colony is perhaps North Carolina's most notorious and famous unsolved mystery. Some claim the colonist seeked refuge with the Native Americans, while others believe they were brutally murdered. The fact that no one knows has turned this mystery into famous folklore.
13. It's not just ghosts you have to worry about.
In 1954, an alarming amount of dead livestock and animal mutilations occured in Bladenboro. The animals were found with their jaw either broken or removed, and the blood drained from their bodies; linking this 'beast' to the legend of the Chupacabra. The witness reports described the animal as resembling a panther or overgrown cat. The town banded together in an effort to hunt and kill the beast with no results.
For 50 years the town of Bladenboro sat quietly and no attacks occurred. In 2006, the same attacks, and the same beast appeared again. No one knows what exactly the 'beast' is, but the mysterious attacks, and its mysterious false retirement leave us wondering and even believing there could be some truth to this legend.
14. You're not even safe in the Capitol Building.
Built in 1840, the old Raleigh state Capitol Building is one the best preserved pieces of history in the state. But between former enraged politicians and a possible murder, politics aren't the only scary subject in Raleigh.
In 1961, the seat of the North Carolina state Government moved just two blocks away, but the original building remained. Of course, any old building contains tons of history...but what about ghosts? Most encounters are reported by the night watchers who claim to have heard yells, screams, and doors being unexplainably slammed and opened. The strangest encounter was witnessed and reported by a watchman by the name of Mr. Jackson. Jackson said he saw the manual elevator go up and down from the third to first floor, while distant voices carried on conversation as if somehow it was just a normal day in the 1900s. In the 1860s, a woman was murdered at the front steps of the Capitol building. Witnesses have heard chilling, shrill screams, and attribute this to the victim's ghost.
15. Some souls never leave North Carolina.
At age twenty-six, George Vanderbilt decided he wanted a vacation home in the North Carolina Mountains. So, he built the largest privately-owned home in America. To this day, he and his wife, Edith have never wanted to leave.
The swimming pool is supposedly the most haunted room in the Biltmore Estate, and also where Edith threw some killer pool parties. Laughing, splashing, and yelling are frequently heard from this room. George would often retreat to his library before a big storm; and it was his favorite room in the house. His spirit seems tied to the library. After George died from complications during appendicitis surgery, Edith still continued to seek advice from him. It is said she would sit in his favorite room, the library, in front of the marble fireplace and carry on conversation as if George was still there. She would ask him questions, talk about her day, and eventually the servants began to believe she lost her mind. Clearly, Edith was suffering from extreme grief, but her inability to cope with George's death has persisted into the afterlife. It is said that to this day you can still hear her voice lightly talking to 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?
What did you think of our list? Have any North Carolina ghost stories of your own? Tell us in the comments!