Notes on Haunted North Carolina

Seemingly, the pandemic has affected everything, including my own writing and research. While I have continued to research, my motivation and focus when writing has been severely undermined.

In my research for this blog I have amassed a tremendous amount of information in the form of books, as well as in periodical articles and blog entries. Yet, so much of this information hasn’t been utilized. When I write blog entries, I usually pour a great deal of research into my subject or subjects, which of course takes time. These entries, however, have been written in a “fast and furious” style and utilize just one or two sources. I expect that these may be used and expanded in the future. Please enjoy this “fast and furious” tour of North Carolina haunts!

Asheville

1889 WhiteGate Inn & Cottage
173 East Chestnut Street

This Asheville bed & breakfast has been in operation for many years. Over that time, guests have reported quite a bit of paranormal activity. A 2001 article in the Asheville Citizen-Times notes some of that activity including footsteps on the stairs and an old woman sitting on an outside chair.

Sources

  • Clark, Paul. “Ghosts luring guests to local bed and breakfasts.” Asheville Citizen-Times. 1 September 2001.

Lewis Memorial Park Cemetery
415 Beaverdam Road

Workers in this cemetery have reported a ghostly horse and rider as well as a phantom dog. Some believe the rider may be the spirit of Robert J. Lewis who created the park in 1927.

Sources

  • Bianchi, Melanie M. “Outdoors: Spooky outdoor spots.” Mountain Xpress. 29 October 2008.

Bath

Devil’s Hoofprints on the Cutler Farm (private)
NC 1334

These mysterious prints on the edge of the woods now on private property are believed to be those of the Devil. Sometime in the early 19th century, a local man by the name of Jesse Elliott was known for his fondness for horses and racing. He was approached by a stranger wearing black astride a black horse. The stranger made a wager with Elliott as to whose horse was faster.

Elliott soon found himself in the lead and he boasted to the stranger “Take me as the winner or take me to hell!” As soon as the words left his mouth, the stranger was next to him and Elliott’s horse stopped running. Jesse was thrown from his horse, his head hitting a pine tree killing him.

The stranger got off his horse and supposedly took ahold of his soul and disappeared. The only sign that the Devil had been there were hoofprints left in the soft earth. Like the Devil’s Tramping Ground in Bear Creek (also included in this article), debris falling into the hoofprints is quickly swept away by an unseen force.

Sources

  • Bianchi, Melanie M. “Outdoors: Spooky outdoor spots.” Mountain Xpress. 29 October 2008.
  • Carmichael, Sherman. Mysterious Tales of the North Carolina Coast. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2018.

Bear Creek

Devil’s Tramping Ground
4005 Devil’s Tramping Ground Road

Devil's Tramping Ground Bear Creek North Carol;ina
A view of the Devil’s Tramping Ground in 2007. Photo by Jason Horne, courtesy of Wikipedia.

In a state full of paranormal landmarks, the Devil’s Tramping Ground outside of Siler City is perhaps one of the most famous. This circular clearing in the woods oddly has no plant life or debris within it. Legend states that this is due to the nightly tramping of the Devil, though scientific investigation has not been able to find a reasonable answer. Curious visitors have left things within the mysterious space only to find it swept clean in the morning.

Sources

  • Devil’s Tramping Ground. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 3 January 2021.
  • “Spookiest spots in North Carolina.” 24 October 2019.

Burke and Caldwell Counties

Brown Mountain

Brown Mountain North Carolina
Brown Mountain in 2016. Photo by Thomson200, courtesy of Wikipedia.

On the border of Burke and Caldwell counties within the Pisgah National Forest is the famed Brown Mountain on whose flanks ghost lights have been seen for quite some time. One of first mentions of the lights in the media occurred in 1913 and an investigator with the U.S. Geological Survey determined that the lights were simply those of a train. Another investigation by the same government entity in 1922 put the blame squarely on trains, automobiles, and stationary lights. However, after a flood in the area cut off electricity and damaged railroads, the lights were still seen. In the years since, scientists have continued to ponder the mysteries and have discovered few answers to the famous Brown Mountain Lights.

Sources

Burlington

Paramount Theatre
128 East Front Street

As all good theatres have a ghost, Burlington’s Paramount Theatre is no exception. The kindly, yet mischievous, spirit has been dubbed “Herschel.” Some legends point to his identity as that of a customer who passed away in the men’s room, while others say that he is the spirit of a projectionist who was electrocuted in the projection booth. According to a 2011 article in the local paper, no one has died in the men’s room or projection booth. Despite the debunked legends, seat bottoms have been seen to move on their own, and lights sometimes act up, while actors onstage have seen a shadowy figure in the projection booth.

Sources

  • Boyd, Walter. “Burlington has more than its share of ghosts and goblins.” Times-News. 28 October 2011.

Buxton

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
46379 Lighthouse Road

Cape Hatteras Light Buxton North Carolina
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 2020. Photo by Jschildk, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has stood over the beach and protected ships from ground on the offshore Diamond Shoals since 1870. During that time, it has also attracted ghosts and paranormal activity. Within the lighthouse itself, a spectral cat has been seen by surprised visitors who have also felt the cat rubbing up against their legs. When the visitor reaches to pet it, the cat vanishes. The apparition of a man in a yellow raincoat has also been spotted here.

Sources

  • Carmichael, Sherman. Mysterious Tales of the North Carolina Coast. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2018.

Candler

Owl’s Nest Inn
2630 Smoky Park Highway

A search of Google reveals that this inn may have closed, though the spirits may remain. A 2001 article in the Asheville Citizen-Times reports that the innkeeper was still scrutinizing an odd photo taken inside the inn. In a room that was supposed to be empty, the photo shows a woman standing in the room with a shroud over her head. But the spirits here did not just make their presence known by appearing in photographs, unseen hands would sometimes turn on gas fireplaces as well as setting alarms on alarm clocks to go off in rooms that had been unoccupied for days.

Sources

  • Clark, Paul. “Ghosts luring guests to local bed and breakfasts.” Asheville Citizen-Times. 1 September 2001.

Stony Fork Picnic Area
711 Pisgah Highway

Located within Pisgah National Forest on the outskirts of Asheville, this picnic area is reputed to be an old dump site for bodies during the Prohibition era. More recently, bodies of two murder victims have been found in the area. One was identified as a victim of Gary Michael Hilton, while the other remains were those of Judy Smith, who may have also been a victim of Hilton.

Visitors to the area after dark have reportedly been pursued into woods by apparitions, including those of a man and a small boy. A paranormal investigation team heard disembodied footsteps there and one of the investigators described the area as being “very uncomfortable.”

Sources

Chapel Hill

Carolina Inn
211 Pittsboro Street

Built in 1924, the Carolina Inn was meant to house visitors to the University of North Carolina next door. In 1948, William Jacocks, a physics professor and 1904 graduate of the university, made his residence in a suite on the second floor, which he would occupy until 1965. Following his death, visitors staying in Room 256 have experienced activity possibly caused by the mischievous professor’s spirit. One of the most occurrences is that the door will lock by itself and refuse to admit guests.

Sources

  • Gardner, George. “Haunted N.C. hotels.” Charlotte Observer. 3 October 2014.

Corolla

Currituck Beach Light
1101 Corolla Village Road

Currituck Beach Light Corolla North Carolina
Currituck Beach Light, 2007. Photo by Warfieldian, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Constructed in 1875, this lighthouse was the last to be built in the Outer Banks. The north room in the keeper’s house may be the domain of two spirits, a little girl who once stayed in the room and a woman who may have died there. The little girl is supposed to have been the daughter or ward of the first lighthouse keeper. While playing on the beach, the child drowned. Afterwards, her form has been encountered on the property. The woman may have been the wife of a keeper who died from tuberculosis here.

Sources

  • Ambrose, Kala. Ghosthunting North Carolina. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2011.
  • Sledge, Joe. Haunting the Outer Banks: Thirteen Tales of Terror from the North Carolina Coast. Gravity Well Books, 2019.

Greensboro

Aycock Auditorium
Campus of University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Facade of Aycock Auditorium UNCG Greensboro North Carolina
Facade of Aycock Auditorium at UNCG, 2015. Photo by Willthacheerleader, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Legend holds that the spirit haunting this auditorium is that of Jane Aycock, daughter of Governor Charles Brantley Aycock, for whom the facility is named. Another story lays the blame for the haunting on the woman who lived in a house that once stood on this spot.

Sources

  • Clodefelter, Tim and Nicole Chenier. “The state of fright: North Carolina history rich in the weird and unexplainable.” Winston-Salem Journal. 29 October 2000.

Kure Beach

Fort Fisher
1610 Fort Fisher Boulevard, South

Fort Fisher was one of the linchpins that kept the Confederacy together. Guarding the approach to Wilmington harbor, the fort aided blockade runners thus keeping the Confederacy alive after so many other ports had been blocked. After the fall of Mobile, Alabama, Fort Fisher became a major target of Union forces. After the first battle waged against the fort was a dismal failure, regrouped Union forces launched a second battle against the fort that was successful. Wilmington fell shortly after.

Fort Fisher Kure Beach North Carolina
Fort Fisher just after the Second Battle of Fort Fisher.

According to Alan Brown, one of the first incidents of paranormal activity was witnessed in 1868 during a reunion of soldiers was held there. Three former soldiers saw a figure atop one of the gun placements. When they waved, the figure raised its sword into the air, revealing it to be none other than General Whiting who had commanded the fort but had been wounded in the second battle and died in captivity. The figure disappeared before their eyes. Figures such as that of the general have been seen repeatedly since and an investigation of the fort in 2004 captured interesting evidence including a human shaped figure that appeared in a photograph.

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Places in the American South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2002.
  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
  • Fort Fisher. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 1 February 2011.
  • Toney, B. Keith. Battlefield Ghosts. Berryville, VA: Rockbridge Publishing, 1997.
  • Wardrip, Stanley. “Fort Fisher Civil War Battlefield.” In Jeff Belanger’s Encyclopedia of Haunted Places. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books, 2005.

Morganton

Broughton Hospital
1000 South Sterling Street

Avery Building Broughton Hospital Morganton North Carolina
Avery Building at Broughton Hospital, 2019. Photo by Warren LeMay, courtesy of Wikipedia.

With the lobbying of Dorthea Dix, the state of North Carolina set out to build modern hospitals for the treatment of mental illnesses. The Western Carolina Insane Asylum opened in 1883 and continues to serve as a mental health facility, though with fewer patients and under the name Broughton Hospital. Most facilities treating mental illness have spirits and Broughton is no exception. Reports mention apparitions, disembodied screams, and eerie feelings haunting this facility. Broughton’s sister hospital is Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro which I have also covered here.

Sources

  • Broughton Hospital. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 3 January 2021.
  • “Spookiest spots in North Carolina.” 24 October 2019.

New Bern

Attmore-Oliver House
510 Pollock Street

Attmore-Oliver House New Bern North Carolina
Attmore-Oliver House, 2006. Photo by Self, courtesy of Wikipedia.

During a paranormal investigation of the Attmore-Oliver House a door slammed in the face of an investigator. After checking the door, there was no obvious force that could have slammed it. Along with some EVPs, this is the main evidence of paranormal activity in this circa 1790 house. Legend tells of a father and daughter who possibly died in the attic during a smallpox epidemic, though this cannot be confirmed through historical records. Others look towards the last resident of the house who was known for her eccentricity. Regardless, there appears to be some very interesting activity going on here.

Sources

  • Manley, Roger. Weird Carolina. NYC: Sterling Publishing, 2007.

Orrum

Lumber River State Park
2819 Princess Ann Road

The swamps and lowlands of America were considered bewitched and dangerous places to the Europeans who settled here. During the American Revolution, patriot General Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion used these mysterious places to his advantage by utilizing guerilla warfare throughout the swamps of South Carolina and even extending into North Carolina on occasion. The land along the course of the Lumber River is mostly undeveloped and remains much as it was when Marion traveled along its swampy run. An old local legend tells of one of Marion’s officers who loved a young woman from a Tory family and passed information on to her father. Marion pursued a group of Tories to Tory Island along the Lumber River and destroyed their settlement. He killed the traitorous officer and hung him in the ruins where the officer’s lover found him. The pair is still seen roaming the island.

Sources

  • Barefoot, Daniel W. North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred, Vol. 2: Piedmont Phantoms. Winston-Salem, NC, John F. Blair, 2002.
  • Lumber River State Park. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 1 February 2011.

Raleigh

North Carolina State Capitol Building
1 East Edenton Street

North Carolina State Capitol, 2007. Photo by Jim Bowen, courtesy of Wikipedia.
North Carolina State Capitol, 2007. Photo by Jim Bowen, courtesy of Wikipedia.

It seems that many current and former state capitol buildings throughout the South are haunted. Old state capitols in Georgia, Louisiana, and Virginia have ghosts as well as the current state capitols for Maryland, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Of these, only the North Carolina Capitol has received any paranormal investigation. The investigation was conducted by none other than the Rhine Research Center, an organization originally established as part of Duke University, which is now independent of the university, devoted to the scientific study of parapsychology. The Rhine Center discovered paranormal activity in the capitol and one investigator who saw a man in nineteenth century clothing sitting in the legislative chamber.

Sources

  • Barefoot, Daniel W. North Carolina’s Haunted Hundred, Vol. 2: Piedmont Phantoms. Winston-Salem, NC, John F. Blair, 2002.
  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.

Rockingham

Hudson Brothers Deli
115 South Lee Street

In 2011, the Sandhills Paranormal Research Society set out to investigate Hudson Brothers Deli, a bar in Rockingham. The building housing the bar originally served as a funeral home. The owner even mentions the existence of crematoriums in the basement.

Among the reports from the bar are the apparition of a girl seen by both a bartender and a manager. One patron reported seeing the apparition of a man in a business suit that told him to, “wait right here.” A former owner reported that an employee sent on an errand to the basement ran screaming from the establishment and never even returned to pick up their paycheck.

The investigation appeared to be successful with the group picking up evidence including the odor of flowers in the basement and EVPs. The group stated that there was definitely spiritual activity here.

Sources

  • Brown, Philip D. “A haunting in Hudson Brothers.” Richmond County Daily Journal. 5 April 2011.

Weaverville

Inn on Main Street
88 South Main Street

New Year’s Eve 1999 offered the owner and guests of the Inn on Main some paranormal activity. As the small group celebrated the new year they “heard two things fall of the wall in the next room.” When the owner walked into the next room, nothing was out of place and the room was empty. A moment later, they heard the sound of a door shutting behind them. The inn occupies a home built around the turn of the 20th century for a surgeon.

Sources

  • Clark, Paul. “Ghosts luring guests to local bed and breakfasts.” Asheville Citizen-Times. 1 September 2001.

Wilmington

Bellamy Mansion
503 Market Street

A spectacular mix of Greek Revival and Italianate architecture, the Bellamy Mansion has been restored and preserved as a monument to history and design. Dr. John D. Bellamy, a physician, planter, and businessman began construction of the house in 1858 and it was completed in 1861, as civil war was breaking out. When Wilmington was captured by Union troops, the house served as headquarters for the Union general. The house is now under the purview of Preservation North Carolina and open as a museum.

Bellamy Mansion Wilmington North Carolina
Bellamy Mansion, 2012. Photo by Jameslwoodward, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The museum staff reportedly doesn’t say much about spirits in the house, but according to Alan Brown, night managers have reported quite a bit of activity. One of those night managers called by the police twice in one night because inside doors were opening by themselves. Another night manager reported seeing the figure of a man and seeing a wheelchair that belonged to one of the Bellamy family members move on its own accord.

Sources

  • Bellamy Mansion. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 1 February 2011.
  • Brown, Alan. Stories from the Haunted South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.

USS North Carolina (BB-55)
1 Battleship Road

This mighty battleship was laid down in 1937 and it was completed in 1941, more than seven months before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, one of the events leading the U.S. to enter World War II. The ship was quickly sent to the Pacific Theater where she served valiantly for the Allied cause and then helped ferry American servicemen home following Japan’s surrender. After the ship was struck from the Naval Register, she was preserved as a museum ship.

USS North Carolina Wilmington North Carolina
The USS North Carolina, 2007. Photo by Doc Searls, courtesy of Wikipedia.

During the ship’s service, it is known that ten men lost their lives aboard the ship. It is believed that the spirits of these men remain aboard the ship, along with a great deal of residual energy. During one investigation, a recorder was dropped into a well. After it was retrieved, investigators heard the words “Help! Help!” and “Tommy” clearly spoken in the well. Research showed that a sailor had once fallen into that well and cracked his skull.

Sources

  • Jordan, Annette. “Ghost hunters: Positively Paranormal is who you’re gonna call.” Courier-Tribune. 16 September 2013.
  • USS North Carolina (BB-55). Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 9 January 2021.

A perfumed ghost—Havre de Grace, Maryland

This is the fifth entry in my Twelve Days of Southern Spirits Series celebrating traditional ghost story telling over Christmas. 

Concord Point Lighthouse
700 Concord Street
Havre de Grace, Maryland

Searching for ghosts among Victorian newspaper sometimes leads to serendipitous discoveries. While hunting ghosts in Georgia newspapers, I ran across this brief news item from Maryland.
 

The Fayetteville News
Fayetteville, Georgia
15 February 1889
Courtesy of the Digital Library of Georgia

A Perfumed Ghost.
_____

A ghost haunts the light-house at Havre de Grace, Md. The keeper of the light-house said, recently: “The head of the man, devil, woman, or whatever it was, appeared to rest against the wire frame around the lantern. The top of the head was covered in black, and the eyes and yellowish-looking inch or so of the forehead above them appeared set in a frame of black. Its eyes were as big as those of a cow, and sparkled just like two big diamonds. There was no expression about them as they moved and quivered in the lantern light.” He couldn’t look long at them, as they affected his eyes more than the bright steady flame of the lantern. Where the figure appeared, it left a strong odor of cologne. The place which generally smells of oil, was then filled with a perfume like a flower garden.

The Havre de Grace Lighthouse, as it was officially known, was constructed in 1827 by John Donohoo, who constructed a number of Chesapeake Bay lighthouses in the early 19th century. The light is situated at the point where the Susquehanna River enters the bay and was authorized by the Maryland General Assembly after numerous wrecks occurred at this point. For much of its history, the light was operated by members of the O’Neill family starting with the very first keeper, John O’Neill. The light was discontinued by the coast guard in 1975. The light has been restored and is currently operated as a museum.

Concord Point Lighthouse Havre de Grace Maryland
The Concord Point Lighthouse, 2005, by Derek Ramsey, courtesy of Wikipedia.

This story from 1889 could be considered the first documented story of paranormal activity at the lighthouse. Several recent sources contend that activity remains at the site. Ed Okonowicz, who has venerably collected ghostlore from the Chesapeake region, notes that a number of locals walking near the lighthouse at night have seen a “slow-moving shadow in the upper windows of the light tower,” while a dark figure has been encountered near the memorial cannon at the tower’s base. Author Amelia Cotter includes the lighthouse in her book, Maryland Ghosts. Her account mentions that the body of a murder victim was discovered on lighthouse grounds in 1994. She believes that his spirit may remain here as well.

Sources

  • Cotter, Amelia. Maryland Ghosts: Paranormal Encounters in the Free State, 2nd Haunted Road Media, 2015.
  • Okonowicz, Ed. The Big Book of Maryland Ghost Stories. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2010.
  • “A Perfumed Ghost.” Fayetteville News. 15 February 1889.
  • Whittington, W.M. National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Havre de Grace Light. 25 November 1975.

Haunted Virginia, Briefly Noted

Virginia possesses a vast history; subsequently, it could be described as one of the most paranormally active states in the country. This is a selection of some of the more interesting hauntings throughout the Old Dominion.

Aquia Church
2938 Jefferson Davis Highway
Stafford

Acquia Church Stafford Virginia ghost haunted
Aquia Church , photograph taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

As with many of Virginia’s great landmarks, Aquia Church has a ghost story attached. The legend tells of a young woman murdered in this National Historic Landmark church at some time in the eighteenth century and her body hidden in belfry. Accordingly, her spirit descends from the belfry at night and has been witnessed by many over the centuries. One caretaker also spoke of seeing shadowy figures among the tombstones in the graveyard. The current Aquia Church building was built in 1751 and destroyed by fire just before the construction was complete. Using the remaining brick walls, the church was rebuilt in 1757.

Sources

  • Driggs, Sarah S., John S. Salmon and Calder C. Loth. National Register of Historic Place Nomination form for Aquia Church. Listed 12 November 1969.
  • Lee, Marguerite DuPont. Virginia Ghosts, Revised Edition. Berryville, VA: Virginia Book Company, 1966.
  • Taylor, L. B., Jr. The Ghosts of Virginia. Progress Printing, 1993.

Assateague Lighthouse
Assateague Island

In terms of books documenting the spiritual residents of the state, Virginia has an embarrassment of riches. Marguerite DuPont Lee can be noted as one of the first authors to document many of Virginia’s ghosts in her 1930 book, Virginia Ghosts. More recently, L.B. Taylor, Jr. has published some 22 volumes covering the state. Most recently, Michael J. Varhola published his marvelous Ghosthunting Virginia and it is that book that documents the haunting surrounding the Assateague Island and its lighthouse.

Assateague Island Lighthouse Virginia ghost haunted
Assateague Lighthouse, 2007, by DCwom, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Assateague Island is a barrier island along the coast of Maryland and Virginia. Much of the island is now Assateague Island National Seashore with parts of Assateague State Park and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The island is famous for its feral horses, descendants of the horses aboard the Spanish ship, La Galga, which wrecked just off the island in 1720. It is said the spirits of the humans who died in the wreck still comb the beach near the Assateague Lighthouse. The lighthouse, constructed in 1866 and first lit the following year to replace an earlier lighthouse from 1831, may also have some spiritual activity related to it. Varhola cites a National Park Service employee who tells of the door to the lighthouse being found mysteriously unlocked.

Sources

  • Assateague Island. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 10 March 2011.
  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2008.
  • Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff. National Register of Historic Place Nomination form for Assateague Lighthouse. December 1972.

Bacon’s Castle
465 Bacon’s Castle Trail
Surry

Bacon's Castle Surry Virginia ghost haunted
Bacon’s Castle, 2006, by Yellowute, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Bacon’s castle ranks highly on a number of lists. It’s described as the only Jacobean house in America and one of three in the Western Hemisphere; one of the oldest buildings in the state of Virginia and the oldest brick home in the United States. Indeed, it may be one of the oldest haunted houses in the US as well. Researchers in 1999 dated tree rings on some of the home’s beams and determined the house was constructed around 1665. Originally called Allen’s Brick House, the house acquired its current name during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 when some of Nathaniel Bacon’s supporters took over the house. The house, which has survived and witnessed centuries of American history, is now a house museum.

As for the ghosts, this house may possess many. The final private owner of the house, Mrs. Charles Walker Warren, told many tales of the house involving doors opening and closing by themselves and footsteps that were heard. Certainly, the most well-known phenomena regarding Bacon’s Castle is the red fireball that has been seen rising from the house and disappearing in the churchyard of Old Lawne’s Creek Church nearby.

Sources

  • Barisic, Sonja. “Houses’ ‘Bones’ Yield Secrets of Its History.” The Richmond Times-Dispatch. 19 December 1999.
  • Brown, Beth. Haunted Plantations of Virginia. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2009.
  • Melvin, Frank S. National Register of Historic Place Nomination form for Bacon’s Castle. Listed 15 October 1966.
  • Taylor, L. B., Jr. The Ghosts of Virginia. Progress Printing, 1983.
  • Tucker, George. “Ghosts Long A Part of the Lore of Bacon’s Castle.” The (Norfolk, VA) Virginian-Pilot. 9 November 1998.

Belle Isle
Richmond

Originally called Broad Rock Island, Belle Isle was used for mostly industrial purposes in the nineteenth century. Mills, quarries and a nail factory appeared on the tranquil island in the James River. Notoriety came to the island in 1862 with the opening of a Confederate prisoner of war camp that was as notorious as Georgia’s dreaded Andersonville and with a huge influx of prisoners, the camp quickly descended into squalor. Prisoners lived in tents that provide little insulation from the bitter cold of Virginia winters or the heat of the summer sun and were offered little in the way of food. By 1865, most of the prisoners had been shipped to prison camps throughout the South and the island was returned to its more tranquil use as the site of a nail factory. The Old Dominion Iron and Nail works operated on the island until it closed in 1972 and many of its buildings demolished. The island became a park around that same time and has been a popular spot for hiking and jogging.

Belle Isle Richmond Virginia ghost haunted
Belle Isle, 2012, by Morgan Riley, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Still, remnants of the island’s past linger: the site of the prison camp is marked but little else remains while there are ruins of some of the old industrial buildings. Indeed, spirits from the islands past may also linger. There are reports from island visitors of shadow people, hearing footsteps on the trail behind them, lights in the woods at night and photographic anomalies. Author and investigator Beth Brown in her Haunted Battlefields: Virginia’s Civil War Ghosts conducted an investigation and picked up an EVP of a male voice clearly saying, “Where are we?”

Sources

  • Brown, Beth. Haunted Battlefields: Virginia’s Civil War Ghosts. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2008.
  • Dutton, David and John Salmon. National Register of Historic Place Nomination form for Belle Isle. Listed 17 March 1995.

Michie Tavern
683 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Charlottesville

Michie Tavern Charlottesville Virginia ghost haunted
Michie Tavern, 2005, by Forestufighting, courtesy of Wikipedia.

My first introduction to the Michie Tavern came through the eyes of paranormal researcher and writer Hans Holzer. Among some of the first books about ghosts I read were some of Holzer’s books and I still vividly remember reading of some of his investigations. For his books, he traveled the world with a psychic medium in tow investigating haunted and historical locations such as the Morris-Jumel Mansion in New York City and the famous house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York, the basis for the “Amityville Horror.” On his travels through Virginia he visited the Michie Tavern and nearby Monticello and was able, through his medium Ingrid, to find spirits still partying in the ballroom of this 1784 tavern. Staff members have reported the sounds of a party in that very room late at night.

Sources

  • Holzer, Hans. Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond. NYC: Black Dog & Leventhal, 1997.
  • Michie Tavern. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 10 March 2011.

Monticello
931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Charlottesville

Monticello Charlottesville Virginia ghost haunted
Monticello, 2013, by Martin Falbisoner, courtesy of Wikipedia.

In 1928, a Charlottesville preservationist purchased the Michie Tavern, an 18th century tavern in nearby Earlysville and moved it near to Thomas Jefferson’s “little mountain,” Monticello. Jefferson, perhaps one of the country’s most brilliant, enigmatic and creative presidents, designed and built his home over many years at the end of the eighteenth century and into the early nineteenth century. Over the years that the house has been open as a museum, there have been a few reports of phantom footsteps and other minor incidents including the occasional sound of someone cheerfully humming.

Sources

  • Holzer, Hans. Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond. NYC: Black Dog & Leventhal, 1997.
  • Monticello. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 10 March 2011.
  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2008.

Octagon House (Abijah Thomas House)
631 Octagon House Road
Marion

Abijah Thomas House Marion Virginia ghost haunted
Octagon House, 2007, by RegionalGirl137, courtesy of Wikipedia.

In a state of magnificently preserved historical homes, it is surprising to find a magnificent architectural gem like the Abijah Thomas House standing forlornly unrestored.  Neglect and vandalism by teenagers out for a “scare” have also taken their toll on this home. The octagon house style found prominence in the middle of the nineteenth century and currently only a few hundred to a few thousand (sources differ) survive. This particular house, described in its National Register of Historic Places nomination form as “the finest example in Virginia of a 19th-century octagonal house,” also has a number of legends about it. According to Michael Varhola, the internet is full of these legends that seem scary but are unlikely to be true. Certainly, this old house is creepy in its deteriorated state, but it really needs a professional investigation.

Sources

  • Octagon houses. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 10 March 2011.
  • Varhola, Michael J. Ghosthunting Virginia. Cincinnati, OH, Clerisy Press, 2008.
  • Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff. National Register of Historic Place Nomination form for Abijah Thomas House. Listed 28 November 1980.

Old 97 Crash Site
Riverside Drive (US 58) between Farrar Street and Highland Court
Danville

This site has been broken out into an all new article. See my entry, “What a jump he made”–Danville, Virginia.

Rosewell
5113 Old Rosewell Lane
Gloucester

Rosewell ruins Virginia ghosts haunted
Rosewell ruins, 2002, by Agadant, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The magnificent main house at Rosewell burned in 1916, but it is hardly a distant memory. The brick wall still stands, and archaeological excavations have uncovered the remains of items that were inside the house during the fire. Construction began in 1725 and the house was completed in 1738 for the powerful Page family. The power of the Page family extended into the nineteenth century and included friendships with people such as Thomas Jefferson who legend says drafted the Declaration of Independence within the walls of Rosewell. The ruins have been preserved as a historic site and still attract visitors and spirits. An old legend speaks of a woman in red seen running down the remains of the house’ front stairs with the sound of slaves singing has also been heard.

Sources

  • Brown, Beth. Haunted Plantations of Virginia. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2009.
  • Lee, Marguerite DuPont. Virginia Ghosts, Revised Edition. Berryville, VA: Virginia Book Company, 1966.

“There surges forth a shriek…Maryland, my Maryland!”

But lo! there surges forth a shriek,
From hill to hill, from creek to creek-
Potomac calls to Chesapeake,
Maryland! My Maryland!
–from Stanza VII, “Maryland, my Maryland” by James Ryder Randall (1861), state song of Maryland since 1939.

Point Lookout State Park
11175 Point Lookout Road
Scotland, Maryland

N.B. This article was first published on Courtney Mroch’s Haunt Jaunts 14 September 2016.

Where the Potomac River calls to and meets the Chesapeake Bay at a place called Point Lookout, shrieks sometimes rend the quiet night air. The shrieks and cries may come from the throats of the countless men who withered and died in the Union prison camp here or perhaps they are shrieks of terror from the living who have encountered the active spirits who haunt this place. Here in this wild and lonely place, apparitions are frequently accompanied by audible echoes of the past and negative energies of the past are still palpable in the salty breeze from the Chesapeake Bay.

Point Lookout Scotland Maryland ghosts haunted
Waves crash on a breakwater just offshore from Point Lookout. Photo by Matt Tillett, 2008. Courtesy of Flickr.

Seemingly squashed between Virginia and Pennsylvania and hemmed in by the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware, and West Virginia, Maryland seems to be more of an afterthought as a state, though it is perhaps one of the more important states in the early history of this country. In terms of the paranormal landscape, Maryland is also not well regarded, though it could be seen as one of the more haunted states in the South if not the country. From the small villages clustered along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay to the Washington, D.C. suburbs, Baltimore, Annapolis, the battlefield-pocked farmland of Washington County to the mountains of Western Maryland, the state is haunted to its core. Among its contributions to American paranormal studies are the 1949 exorcism of a young boy in Cottage City (a Washington, D.C. suburb in Prince George’s County) that forms the basis of William Peter Blatty’s novel, The Exorcist; the persistent legend of a goatman-like creature near Beltsville (also near Washington); and numerous macabre near-mythical characters including the killer Patty Cannon, the vengeful slave Big Lizz, the Pig Woman of Cecil County. Haunted landmarks include the USS Constitution docked in Baltimore Harbor, the Antietam battlefield, the Landon House in Urbana, Governor’s Bridge, the University of Maryland in College Park, and historic and haunted cities such as Ellicott City and Frederick.

Point Lookout is the most southern tip of St. Mary’s County, the oldest established county in the state having been established in 1637. The area was first explored by Captain John Smith (yes, the one of Pocahontas fame) in 1608 who noted the abundant fish and game, the fertile soil, and the strategic military importance of this spot. Over the next couple centuries settlers here endured attacks from Native Americans and the site’s military importance brought a raid from British forces during the American Revolution. After a number of ships were lost on the shoals just offshore from Point Lookout, the government built a lighthouse in 1830. Despite the warning beacon, some catastrophic shipwrecks still occurred here including the USS Tulip which sank with 47 souls after a boiler explosion, and the tragic breakup of the steamship Express during the Great Gale of 1878 with the loss of 16 souls.

Point Lookout Scotland Maryland ghosts haunted rebel prisoner Civil War
A rebel prisoner photographed by L. V. Newell. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The Civil War brought thousands to this little peninsula with the establishment in 1862 of Hammond General Hospital to care for wounded soldiers. The immense building could house 1,400 patients and consisted of 16 buildings arranged as the spokes in a wheel. A short distance from the hospital Camp Hoffman was established the next year to house Confederate prisoners of war. In The Photographic History of the Civil War, the camp is described: “No barracks were erected, but tents were used instead…The prison was the largest in the North, and at times nearly twenty thousand were in confinement…in winter the air was cold and damp, and the ground upon which most men lay was also damp.” In this rude prison—nearly all prison camps during this war were rude and inhumane—some 3,000 Confederate troops perished from disease and exposure to the elements. With this dark history it’s no wonder that Point Lookout is teeming with activity.

Point Lookout Scotland Maryland ghosts haunted Confederate Monument
Point Lookout Confederate Monument. Photo taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) by David Haas, 2006. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

In 1992 on the FOX TV show, Sightings, paranormal investigator Lynda Martin says of Point Lookout: “This has to be one of the places that I’ve investigated, that it’s just the whole area is just full of activity. It’s not just localized to just one building or one spot on the grounds, it includes the whole area. I’ve never come in contact with anything like that before.” After a 1980 paranormal investigation here involving Hans Holzer, the pioneering paranormal researcher and early ghost hunter, he declared, “that place is haunted as hell!” For decades, reports have been filtering out from Point Lookout from staff and visitors alike regarding paranormal activity here. What makes these reports so interesting and important is the wide variety of experiences and the evidence that has been captured.

Some years ago a reenactor was spending the night in an old guardhouse near Fort Lincoln, one of the earthen forts built to defend the prison stockade. Going out after dark to gather firewood, the man knelt down and heard the distinct sound of a bullet whizzing past his head. A window pane in the guardhouse behind him was struck and shattered. Shaking with fright from his near-death encounter, the reenactor fled the area. Returning the next morning, he was shocked to find that all the window panes were perfectly in place and none had been shattered.

It is perhaps the old lighthouse here that serves best as a beacon for spirits. Various caretakers have lived in the early 19th-century structure and many of them have had experiences. It was one of these caretakers living here in the late 1970s who asked paranormal investigators to check out the activity after he had numerous experiences in the building. One evening as the caretaker sat at his kitchen table he was overcome with the sensation of being watched. Walking to the door he saw the visage of a man wearing a floppy hat looking back at him through the window. His curiosity was aroused by the strange visitor and the caretaker opened the door to let him in. The figure turned and walked through the screen that enclosed the porch. The same caretaker regularly reported hearing voices, footsteps, moaning, and snoring throughout the house when he was home alone.

Point Lookout Scotland Maryland ghosts haunted Lighthouse
Point Lookout Lighthouse, 2013, by Jeremy Smith. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

A park ranger reported that he saw a Confederate soldier running across the road near where the camp hospital once stood. Over the years that he served at the park he claimed to have seen the soldier nearly a dozen times. A group of fishermen arriving early one morning reportedly struck a man who suddenly appeared in the road ahead of them. The group exited the vehicle to find no man or damage to the car, though they had all experienced the thump of the man’s body hitting the car. Another park employee on patrol one night turned to see a field of white tents lined up in the middle of the road. She fled without looking back.

In terms of auditory evidence, Sarah Estep, one of the pioneers in the field of EVP or electronic voice phenomena, was a part of the 1980 investigation and captured a number of EVP here. Among the EVPs captured was one saying, “let’s talk,” while another EVP came in response to Estep’s question, “were you a soldier here?” The clear voice of a young man states, “I was seeing the war.” These EVPs were among some 25 captured during this investigation. Others have successfully captured singing, humming, and even the chanting of soldiers on tape when nothing was heard at the time.

From the ominous lighthouse to the spiritual artifacts remaining from the Civil War prison camps, Point Lookout remains one of the most important historical and paranormal landmarks in the South.

Sources

  • Charles, TBN. “Troubled spirits are restless at one Southern Maryland site.” The Bay Net. 22 October 2015.
  • Cotter, Amelia. Maryland Ghosts: Paranormal Encounters in the Free State, 2nd Ed. Haunted Road Media, 2015
  • Davis, William C. & Bell I. Wiley, eds. Photographic History of the Civil War, Vicksburg to Appomattox. NYC: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 1983.
  • Gallagher, Trish. Ghosts and Haunted Houses of Maryland. Tidewater Publishers, 1988.
  • “Legends of Point Lookout. Bay Weekly, Vol. 8, No. 42. 19-25 October 2000.
  • Oconowicz, Ed. Big Book of Maryland Ghost Stories. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2010.
  • Point Lookout Light. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 2 November 2017.
  • Point Lookout State Park. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 2 November 2017.
  • Rasmussen, Frederick N. “A grisly past continues to haunt Point Lookout.” Baltimore Sun. 27 October 2007.
  • Varhola, Michael J. & Michael H. Varhola. Ghosthunting Maryland. Cincinnati, OH: Clerisy Press, 2009.
  • Winkler/Daniel Productions. Sightings, Season 1, Episode 2. Aired 28 February 1992.

Haunted South Carolina Lighthouses

N.B. This article was revised and edited 20 February 2019.

In the study of ghosts, particularly in North America, lighthouses appear frequently. I’m not sure about why these beacons for the living play such a role in the world of the dead, but they appear with noticeable regularity. In the United States, the bulk of the attention on haunted lighthouses concern those of the mid-Atlantic and New England states as well as the Great Lakes lighthouses of Michigan, though there are some quite prominent haunted Southern lighthouses. Among them, the St. Augustine and Pensacola lighthouses in Florida, both of which have been investigated by TAPS, the ghost hunting organization featured on the TV show, Ghost Hunters. In fact, the investigation of the St. Augustine Lighthouse featured the investigators chasing something up and down the stairs of the lighthouse itself.

On this blog, I have covered two other lighthouses, the Assateague Light on Assateague Island, Virginia, and the Point Lookout Lighthouse in Scotland, Maryland.

Hilton Head Rear Range Light
Arthur Hill Golf Course, Palmetto Dunes Resort
Hilton Head Island

The most southern of all South Carolina’s lighthouses, the Hilton Head Rear Range Light is the only remaining of two lights that originally guided shipping in Port Royal Sound. With the front light, which was mounted on the roof of a lighthouse keeper’s cottage a mile away, these lights could be lined up by the navigators of ships to provide the safest route into port.

This, the remaining light, was constructed between 1879 and 1880 and lit for the first time in 1880. It consists of a cast-iron skeleton and the stair tower (originally clad in wood, but clad in iron sheeting probably around 1913) topped by a wooden watch room and lantern room. The cast-iron skeleton is bolted to  a  series of concrete bases. This complex once included a keeper’s cottage, but it was moved to Harbour Town in the Sea Pines Plantation resort complex in the 1980s. The light was decommissioned in 1932 and it was restored with the building of the Palmetto Dunes Resort. The beacon now presides over the 15th hole of the resort’s golf course.

haunted Hilton Head Rear Range Light ghosts lighthouses Arthur Hills Golf Course
Hilton Head Rear Range Light, 2012, by Bill Fitzpatrick. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

In 1898 at the height of a tremendous hurricane, the lighthouse keeper, Adam Fripp, and his daughter Caroline, remained in the lantern room tending the light. A gale shattered the glass in the lamp, extinguishing it. At the same moment, Mr. Fripp suffered a massive heart attack. Still conscious, Fripp encouraged 20-year-old Caroline to continue tending the light and she did so following his death. Exhausted by the work and probably grief, Caroline died three weeks later.

Wearing the blue gown she was wearing the night of the hurricane, her spirit has been seen, and her sobs and wails of grief have been heard in and around the lighthouse. Terrance Zepke’s Ghosts of the Carolina Coast recounts a story of a young couple who encountered a young woman wearing a blue dress one stormy evening. She climbed in the back seat of their car soaking wet and the couple drove on. When the wife turned to speak to the young woman, the back seat was empty, though covered with water.

Cape Romain Lighthouse
Lighthouse Island
Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge
McClellanville

Situated on a lonely barrier island, the Cape Romain Lighthouse is the perfectly place for a lonely spirit to walk. The first Cape Romain lighthouse is 65 feet high and was constructed in 1827 to guide mariners past the dangerous Cape Romain shoals. The light burned until 1857 when its much taller sibling, soaring 150 feet, was constructed with slave labor.

Like Pisa’s famous tower, the taller Cape Romain Lighthouse began to lean in the late nineteenth century. The tilt became so precarious that the Fresnel lens had to be adjusted to function properly. The lens was replaced in 1931 and the lighthouse was automated in 1937. Ten years later, the lighthouse was decommissioned and the light went dark. Since that time, the keeper’s quarters and outbuildings have disappeared leaving only the two towers standing mute. The Fish and Wildlife Service, which operates the surrounding refuge, still maintains the pair of lighthouses.

haunted Cape Romain Lighthouses early 20th century ghost
The lighthouses of Cape Romain in the early 20th century. Courtesy of the US Coast Guard Historic Light Stations Database.

The lonely setting of these now mute sentinels plays a significant part in its legend. Most likely in the late nineteenth century, a Norwegian man named Fischer was the keeper and lived on Lighthouse Island with his wife. The wife continuously begged her husband’s permission to leave the island and return to Norway for a visit, but he refused. One evening, Fischer was so angered by his wife’s pleading that he plunged a knife into her breast and buried her body near the lighthouse.

Those asking about his wife’s whereabouts were told that she had become despondent from the loneliness and had committed suicide. On his deathbed, he confessed to his wife’s murder and lighthouse keepers thereafter tended to the grave on the lonely island. Over time, a spirit was heard ascending the 195 steps of the lighthouse tower. Additionally, bloodstains inside the keeper’s cottage could not be scrubbed away.

haunted Cape Romain Lighthouses ghost
The Cape Romain Lighthouses circa 2011, courtesy of Wikipedia.

August Fredreich Wichmann, one of the keepers in the early twentieth century reported hearing the sounds of footsteps in the tower many times. Wichmann’s son, who was born at the lighthouse believes the footsteps are from Fischer’s wife. If the footsteps are still heard, the only things to hear them are the goats and seabirds that now inhabit this lonely island.

Georgetown Light
North Island
Georgetown

Winyah Bay at the end of the eighteenth and into the nineteenth centuries was vital to American trade. To aid ships passing into this bay, the Georgetown Light was constructed first in 1801. This cypress tower did not last long and was replaced in 1806 after being toppled in a gale. Some six years later, the current 87 foot brick tower was constructed. It is now the oldest active lighthouse in South Carolina.

Georgetown Light. Courtesy of the US Coast Guard Historic Light Stations Database.

Two reports of ghosts come from this light. Bruce Roberts and Ray Jones in their Southeastern Lighthouses: Outer Banks to Cape Florida report that footsteps are heard in the tower, though no indication is given as to the identity of the spirit.

The second story, in Terrance Zepke’s Ghosts of the Carolina Coast, however, is more interesting. Mariners tend to be a very superstitious bunch and this is indicated in this legend of a warning spirit attached to this lighthouse. Apparently, a lighthouse keeper and his young daughter had ventured into Georgetown, some miles south of the light. As they returned, a storm blew in and the young girl was tossed into the water. Her father jumped in to rescue her but she was lost. The lighthouse keeper survived and following his death, he and his daughter were seen rowing a small boat in Winyah Bay. Local mariners always took their appearance as a sign of a storm blowing in.

Sources

  • Bansemer, Roger. Bansemer’s Book of Carolina and Georgia Lighthouses. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2000.
  • Califf, John, III. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for the Georgetown Light. Listed 30 December 1974.
  • DeWire, Eleanore and Daniel E. Dempster. Lighthouses of the South: Your Guide to the Lighthouses of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, 2004.
  • Elizabeth, Norma and Bruce Roberts. Lighthouse Ghosts: 13 Bone Fide Apparitions Standing Watch Over America’s Shores. Birmingham, AL: Crane Hill, 1999.
  • Hilton Head Range Rear Light. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia Accessed 18 October 2010.
  • Huntsinger, Elizabeth Robertson. More Ghosts of Georgetown. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 1998.
  • Lee, Charles E. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for the Cape Romain Lighthouses. Listed 12 November 1981.
  • Roberts, Bruce and Ray Jones. Southeastern Lighthouses: Outer Banks to Cape Florida. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2000.
  • Wells, John E. National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for the Hilton Head Rear Range Light. Listed 12 December 1985.
  • Zepke, Terrance. Ghosts of the Carolina Coasts: Haunted Lighthouses, Plantations, and Other Historic Sites. Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, 2000.