Terror in the Tri-Cities Series—Tennessee & Virginia
The Tri-Cities Region encompasses the extreme northeastern corner of Tennessee and part of southwest Virginia, surrounding the major cities of Kingsport and Johnson City in Tennessee, and Bristol, VA/TN, which is situated astride the state line. This area, in the heart of Appalachia, is noted for its culture, mountain lore, and ghost stories.
This series looks at a representative haunting in each of the region’s counties, and it’s one independent city.
Carter County, Tennessee, situated on the state line with North Carolina, possesses a number of haunted places, especially around its county seat, Elizabethton, where just outside of town the Siam Steel Bridge once stood.
Dark Hollow Road
Roan Mountain, which is shared by Tennessee and North Carolina, is the center of many folktales and legends. For centuries, a mysterious hum or singing has been heard near the top of this mountain and has never been adequately explained as well as the sounds of a spectral bull.
On the flanks of the mountain winds a mysterious road called Dark Hollow Road. With such a creepy name, it’s no wonder that the road has spirited legends associated with it. The legend here revolves around a woman named Delinda. In some sources, she is a prostitute, simply a renowned lover, or sometimes she is suggested to be a witch. Most sources agree, however, that she was carrying on relationships with many local men, most of whom were married. In fact, she was suspected of spreading illness to these men, further angering the already spurned wives.
Blogger Jason Norris Brown recounts in his now, sadly defunct blog, Ghosts and Spirits of Tennessee, that Delinda was in love with a man named Jankins. When he died, she was suspected of climbing into his casket in order that they spend eternity together. Another version of the legend has the women of the town killing her and hiding her body in Mr. Jankins casket. Following the burial, locals began to notice a shadowy figure around the cemetery at the bend in the road.
A darker version of the story has Delinda being murdered by a group of angry wives. She was invited to a quilting bee, but after her arrival she was tarred and feathered before being hung in a nearby tree.
There are reports that drivers near the cemetery have experienced an odd bump to their cars, sometimes feeling like a person has jumped on the bumper, which has been blamed on the spirit of Delinda trying to hitch a ride. One story cited by several sources, describes a group of friends driving past the cemetery at night when their car begins to buck wildly as if the driver was stepping on the accelerator and the brakes at the same time.
Paranormal investigator and researcher Justin H. Guess notes in his 2012 book on the hauntings of Carter County that visitors to the cemetery throwing a coin up in the air will have it disappear before it hits the earth. Perhaps Delinda is still trying to collect her fee?
The identity of the exact cemetery has not been reported, though after some digging, it appears this may be the Birchfield Cemetery, which is located across the road from another small family cemetery, the Gibbs Cemetery. Please have respect for the families who own these cemeteries and their loved ones who are buried here.
- Brown, Alan. Haunted Tennessee: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Volunteer State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2009.
- Brown, Jason Norris. “The Phantom Jumper of Dark Hollow.” Ghosts and Spirits of Tennessee.
- “Do you believe in ghosts?” Johnson City Press. 30 October 2012.
- Guess, Justin H. Weird Tri-Cities: Haunted Carter County, Tennessee. Kindle Edition, 2012.
- Manley, Roger. Weird Tennessee: Your Travel Guide to Tennessee’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. NYC: Sterling, 2010.