Halloween is less than a week away, and many of us are in the mood to be spooked. Often though, real life is much creepier and inexplicable than the images we see in scary movies. Just take a look at some of these stories.
From lost loves to a tramping ground for the devil, these are some of North Carolina’s most haunted spots.
The Great Dismal Swamp
The Great Dismal Swamp covers 100,000+ acres along North Carolina’s northern border with Virginia, and throughout the year the swamp’s cypress forests and murky waterways remain an eerie presence. In this desolate region resides Lake Drummond, named after William Drummond, who went exploring in the swamp with a group of hunters and was the only one to return. Nearly dead from starvation when he staggered out, he babbled incoherently about strange forces at work in the swamp. One of the most famous ghost stories centers around two lovers. On the eve of their wedding, the woman went walking in the Great Dismal Swamp and was never seen again. Even after the search parties declared her dead, the man, stricken with grief, continued looking for her, convinced she was just lost in the swamp. To this day, hunters and fishermen claim to catch sight of a young woman paddling through the swamp at night or standing by its shadowy edge.
Lydia’s Bridge, Jamestown
Right outside of Greensboro, in quaint Jamestown, North Carolina, there is a phantom hitchhiker—Lydia. Headed home from a dance one evening in the early 1920s, Lydia’s date lost control of the car. He died instantly and she was badly injured. It wasn’t until later, while trying to flag down help on the side of the road, that she died. To this day, Lydia remains a ghostly presence in Jamestown, a hitchhiker seen wearing white who disappears into thin air. Though the bridge is no longer used, Lydia remains a presence. She is also known as the Vanishing Lady, the Phantom Hitchhiker, and the Lady in White.
Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill
Built in 1924, the Carolina Inn is said to be haunted by as many as 20 ghosts, earning it a spot in About.com’s list, “America’s Top 10 Haunted Hotels.” The most well known is that of Dr. William Jacocks, a man who began his 17-year stay at the in 1948 until his death in 1965, living in room 256. Considered a benevolent ghost by most, he is well known for locking guests out of his room. Twenty years ago, in an attempt to stop Dr. Jacocks’ pranks, the inn split 265 into four separate rooms and installed electronic locks on every door. However, he still manages to jam the locks, as well as rumpling bath mats, pulling shower curtains, and appearing—briefly—in the hallways as a well-dressed man in a hat and long blue coat.
The Grove Park Inn, Asheville
One of North Carolina’s most acclaimed hotels, the Grove Park Inn is also home to one of its most-loved ghosts: the Pink Lady. In the 1920s, a young woman fell to her death from a balcony on the fifth floor of the inn, though why remains a mystery. Some say it was an accident, and some say she was thrown. According to residents and staff, she is particularly fond of room 545, and even fonder of playing pranks: turning devices on and off, lowering the temperature, and tickling guests’ feet at night. A phantom resident of the inn for nearly 100 years, the Pink Lady is a regular, and treated as such by staff and guests.
The Devil’s Tramping Ground, Bennett
Perhaps one of the most famous haunted areas in North Carolina is the Devil’s Tramping Ground. Located in Chatham County, the Tramping Ground is a 40-foot circle in the middle of a forest. Nothing will grow there, despite greenery popping up elsewhere, and legend has it that it is the site where the devil comes alive to wreak havoc on mankind. Any vegetation transported to the area soon withers and dies, and any object left in the circular spot before dusk will be violently moved away by dawn. Animals won’t come near it, and everyone who’s attempted to spend a night within the circle has left before dawn, shaken and less sane.
One of the state’s most famous legends, the Brown Mountain Lights have been reported in newspaper stories, investigated by the US Geological Survey, and attracted numerous scientists and historians to the area for centuries. When conditions are just right, inexplicable glowing orbs have been seen to rise up off Brown Mountain, hover about fifteen feet up in the air, then disappear. They have been observed by hundreds of witnesses and photographed on separate occasions. Although numerous stories have arisen to explain the phenomenon, one thing is certain: the lights are real.
The Home of Nell Cropsey, Elizabeth City
One of the most eerie locations on the coast is the home of Nell Cropsey. After disappearing from her home in Elizabeth City on the night of November 20, 1901, her body was found floating in the Pasquotank River. No one knows who killed Cropsey, but her spirit still haunts the town—and in particular, the Cropsey home. For the past center, residents have reported lights going on and off, doors opening and shutting, and cold gusts of air. The pale figure of a young woman has been seen moving throughout the house, showing up in bedrooms. Even passersby have claimed to see the phantom figure of a girl looking down from an upstairs window.