Urban legends…they ignite the storyteller in all of us. We hear them, we tell them, and soon they become stories passed down through generations. While North Carolina is full of the haunted, the weird, and the scary…we also have some pretty interesting urban legends that add to the mystery and allure of our state.
Due to the length of some of these legends, I’ll be doing this in two parts. Here is the first part!
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1.Raleigh's Haunting Capitol Building History
Built in 1840, the old Raleigh state capitol building continues to be one the best preserved pieces of history in the state. The anitquated history is felt through original furniture, decorations, and souls that still linger. 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 still remains. Of course, any old building contains tons of history...but what about ghosts? Most encounters of the ghostly kind 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 claims to have witnessed the manual elevator going up and down from the third to first floor, while distant voices carried on conversation as if a time/space break was occuring and somehow, Jackson was witnessing a day in the life in the 1900's. In the 1860's, a woman was murdered at the front steps of the Capitol building. Witnesses who have heard chilling, shrill screams, attribute this to the victim's ghost. From downright terrifying to sometimes silly, the Capitol building and its ghosts are famous NC urban legends.
2. A scary 'monster' with a cute name, Lake Norman's Normie
Manmade in 1963, Lake Norman was created by damning the Catawba River at Cowan's Ford. While no ancient creatures could be waiting to make their ascension, something could have possibly been caught in the making of Lake Norman. 'Normie' has so many reports, and sightings, it is hard to believe this urban legend is NOT true. Divers have reported seeing a fish large enough to swallow a human, and have vowed never to dive in certain areas again. Fishermen, and lake dwellers, have also reported seeing Normie. Maybe he is just an overgrown garfish or mutated fresh water eel, but it is still a mystery what exactly lurks in these waters.
3. The Beast of Bladenboro
In 1954, an alarming amount of dead livestock and animal mutilations began being reported 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. Yet, no results turned up. For 50 years the town of Bladenboro sat quietly as no attacks were reported. Then, 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.
4. The Brown Mountain Lights
In Burke County, as the sun descends beneath the trees and night takes over, something strange begins to happen. Bright, multicolored and mulitsized lights appear in the distance. 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. Legends link the lights to ‘ghost maidens’ searching for their loved ones after a great battle of The Cherokee and Catawba. The only truth, and agreement to this legend is that the Brown Mountain Lights are visible with your own two eyes.
5. The devil dances right here in North Carolina
The devil doesn't need to go down to Georgia to find a soul, he can prey on some defiant camper who is camping in 'his circle.' The devil's tramping ground is a real North Carolina mystery. In this 40-ft. diameter nothing will grow 'quite right.' Leave something in the circle, and it is sure to vanish the next day. Brave, bold souls have camped in the center of the circle. While they did not disappear, they did express that there was something strange about staying in this area overnight.
6. No need for AAA at Gravity Hill
The legend of gravity hill is linked to a truly tragic story. It is said that on Richfield Road, a young mother and her child were driving when her car stalled. As she got out of the car and attempted to push the car up the hill herself, a truck came along, hit, and killed both instantly. Today, legend has it that if you go to the hill and put baby powder on the hood you will see handprints when you get to the top. Legend also says if you put your car in neutral at the bottom, you will be pushed up the hill.
7. A dream leading to an execution
There's no shortage of superstitions in western North Carolina. Superstition and wive's tales are about as common as breathing. That is why when I stumbled upon this story, I found it to be truly fascinating. As the story goes....In the 1870's there was a farmer by the name of George Feller who lived in Mcdowell County with his wife, Kathy. During this time, farming was a prime source of income for many families in the region. George's wife suffered chronic asthma, preventing her from helping him on the farm. So George was left to do things on his own as his wife's condition worsened. One night, a frantic George appeared at a neighbor's door, sobbing and asking for help. He said his wife had a violent bout of asthma, and with the closest doctor being miles away, he needed immediate help. When the neighbor's arrived, they found Kathy dead, with her infant son curled next to her body. In typical mountain fashion,the town banded together for help as all the funeral arrangements were made and finalized. On the day of the funeral, in tradition, a group of mourners walked behind the wagon carrying the coffin for the four-mile journey. As they traveled, they suddenly encountered a man on horseback who refused to let them pass. He told the mourners "You can not bury this woman, she has been murdered!" As the crowd stood in shock...the man continued..."I don't know any of you, I live in Yancey County. But I had a dream last night that on my way into McDowell County I would meet the funeral procession of a woman killed by her husband. "This is the party I saw in my dream. The same carriage, the same coffin. Unless you have an examination made you leave me no choice but to tell the law". Everyone stood in disbelief. While some thought it silly, others could not argue with the fact that somehow, this stranger knew it was in fact a young woman's body in the coffin. Despite the objections by George Feller, they agreed it was the right thing to do to have the body examined. Upon examination, the doctor found that Kathy had in fact died from pressure applied to the outside of the body, not her condition. Kathy was actually murdered, and after this striking discovery it did not take long for George to admit that he and Kathy had a terrible fight the night before her death. That he did, in fact, murder his wife in rogue rage by strangling her with a leather strap. After his confession, George was hanged. Rather this story is true, or mere fiction, it is a fascinating mountain tale.
8. Wrong place, wrong time...Pactolus Lights
This infamous NC legend is the only train track story that does not involve an actual train wreck. In the early 1900's, a young man rode his horse from Greenville to Pactolus to surprise his fiancee as she got off the train. Sadly, he was never there to greet her as he caught the attention of three men walking the tracks. They decided at this point, they should just ride instead of walk to their destination. As he approached, the three men ambushed him and murdered him. His body was hidden in the woods, but his frightened horse took off and returned to Greenville two days later. The family knew the horse returning alone was a bad omen, and went to thoroughly search the surrounding area. Their search never yielded any results. The train tracks have long been removed but the soul of the young man still haunts the area. He is said to appear in the form of a glowing orb of light. Sometimes the light will float at waist level, as if the man is walking beside his horse. Other times, at eye level as if he still riding the horse. The legend of the lights is linked to the young man trying to let his fiancee know he is there looking for her. The land is now privately owned and unwanted visitors are usually told to go away.
9. Everyone has a sixth sense at Helen's Bridge
Located at Beaucatcher Mountain in Asheville, Helen's Bridge is rooted in legend and unexplainable occurrences. The story goes that a young mother hung herself from this bridge after her daughter died in a fire. Incosolable, and grief-stricken, Helen is said to be seen in a long gown and will ask about the whereabouts of her child. The strangest connection to this legend though is that there have been multiple reports of car trouble at the bridge. May it be a battery dying at the bridge, or days after....people who have experienced Helen's bridge have found looming car trouble to find them soon after their visit. It is not just Helen, but strange and dark apparitions cited around the area. The high volume of paranormal activity around this bridge fuels much of the legend. People have described seeing monster-like figures lurking behind the dense brush. Even slaps, punches, and scratches have been reported. What is really going on here?
10. Talking to the dead at Biltmore
After her husband died from complications during appendicitis surgery, Edith Vanderbilt still continued to seek advice from George. It is said that Edith 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 had 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.
Well guys, that was a wild, spooky ride! Which legends do you want to read about next week?