From the mysterious disappearance of the “lost colony” of Roanoke Islan) to the dark history of the Cherokee removal and the Civil Rights era, this history is riddled with tragic tales and haunted places.
Visiting them can provide an ominous thrill for anyone with an interest in the paranormal.
Of course, these haunting experiences are all the more exciting when there’s some historical context to go along with the place.
To that end, we’ve put together this list of some of the most famous haunted places in NC and the spooky tales behind them, just in time for Halloween!
Read to learn more about the spookiest sites and stories of haunted North Carolina…
READ MORE: The 10 Best North Carolina Haunted Houses
Haunted Places in North Carolina Guide
- Battleship North Carolina (Wilmington)
- The Biltmore Estate (Asheville)
- The Brown Mountain Lights (Linville Gorge)
- The Demon Dog (Valle Crucis)
- The Devil’s Tramping Ground (Chatham County)
- The Duke Mansion (Charlotte)
- The Great Dismal Swamp (NC/Virginia Border)
- Grove Park Inn (Asheville)
- Paint Rock (Hot Springs)
- Teach’s Hole (Ocracoke Island)
1. Battleship North Carolina
This vessel was involved in all of the major offensive strikes by the US Navy in the Pacific Ocean during World War 2, and it once survived a torpedo attack from a Japanese ship.
Nevertheless, the USS North Carolina has seen its share of tragedies, including several soldiers who died in battle and one sailor who was washed overboard.
Inexplicable figures and out-of-place shadows have been reported by visitors and staff, and even professional paranormal investigators have had ghostly experiences here.
Ghost Hunts USA offers overnight tours on the ship a couple of nights a month, but self-guided tours are also available daily from 8:00AM– 5:00PM.
2. The Biltmore Estate
Vanderbilt bought some 125,000 acres of land to be the grounds of the opulent mansion (some of which the family later donated to create Pisgah National Forest).
He established an impressive art and artifact collection, as well as a library full of rare editions. After he died in 1914, his grandsons ultimately inherited the estate and turned it it a tourist attraction.
Vanderbilt loved to spend time in his Biltmore library when storms rolled in, and visitors have reported seeing a shadowy figure there when the weather turns gloomy.
Additionally, the ghost of Edith Vanderbilt is known to visit her husband there, and many visitors have reported hearing her whispering “George” to get his attention.
The Biltmore house is open to guided and audio tours all year round.
READ MORE: The 35 Best Things to Do in Asheville NC
3. The Brown Mountain Lights
More logical explanations for the Brown Mountain Lights have been offered, but never proven.
A German scientist was immediately disputed when he explained them as inflamed nitrous vapors. A US Geological Survey decided they were locomotive headlights. A pulp magazine, The Argosy, claimed it was aliens.
Paranormal investigators and science professors have since tried to get to the bottom of this unexplained phenomenon, but no verified answers have been found.
Viewing locations for seeing the Brown Mountain Lights include Brown Mountain Overlook (off NC-181) and Wiseman’s View in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area (SR 1238).
4. The Demon Dog
Though Valle Crucis is widely recognized as a wholesome setting, there’s a churchyard cemetery off of Hwy 194 where things reportedly get a little supernatural from time to time.
Two young men out for a late-night drive under the full moon reported seeing something leap from behind a headstone and run out into the road.
When they turned to see what had nearly killed them, it was a huge, human-sized dog with black hair, gnarly yellow teeth, and eyes aglow.
The dog chased them for miles, reportedly reaching speeds over 60 miles per hour. They were only able to shake the dog loose when they traversed a bridge, where the two streams crossed.
The cemetery is located at St. John’s Episcopal Church. And while it’s not an official North Carolina tourist attraction, such cemeteries are free to visit.
5. The Devil’s Tramping Ground
About 10 miles from Siler City in Chatham County NC, there’s a strange footpath that forms a circle 40 feet in diameter. Locals claim that this is where Satan walks to contemplate his evil deeds.
The path is completely free of vegetation, and the only thing that’ll grow inside the ring is tough clumps of grass. Even sticks left in the pathway are cleared away by the following morning.
Some folks claim the area was a meeting place for Cherokee people or other Native Americans, who made the circle bare with their ceremonial dances.
Others link the site to the Lost Colony of Roanoke, citing that the area was once called Croatan after a tribal chief was buried there. (The same name was famously carved into a tree on Roanoke Island.)
Scientists have tried to explain the Devil’s Tramping Ground as a former molasses mill, saying that the spot was made bare due to incessant circular treading.
Samples have shown the soil here to be high in salt, possibly due to remnants of salt licks in the area.
There is an NC Scenic Byway that was originally named (by the NC DOT) Devil’s Tramping Grounds Road, and it is free to travel. But the Devil’s Tramping Ground site is currently located on private property.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Fairs in North Carolina to Visit
6. The Duke Mansion
Located in Charlotte’s Myers Park neighborhood, the Duke Mansion was built in 1915 as the home of James “Buck” Duke (of Duke University and Duke Energy fame).
But the property was briefly owned by Jon Avery in the 1920s, which is when the paranormal happenings reportedly began.
After Avery’s wife was hospitalized for severe mental health issues, the lonely Jon began renting a room to a young writer, Maggie, with whom he eventually fell in love.
When Avery refused to leave his wife, Maggie quickly broke off their affair. But Avery got her to promise to meet him at the home one year later, dead or alive.
Maggie waited until nearly midnight on the same day, one year later. Jon Avery showed up just in time, and the two reached out for one another as Avery said, “Dead or alive.”
It turned out that Avery had actually died a few days earlier. Those tending to him in his final days recalled him wondering aloud if he would be well enough to make it to the meeting.
7. The Great Dismal Swamp
The swamp was home to Native Americans over 13,000 years ago, and George Washington tried to convert the wetlands into farmland. It also was home to Maroon communities of escaped slaves.
Many have drowned in its waters. Mysterious lights have been seen in the forest and gliding over the water. Hunters have lost bears and deer, claiming they disappeared without a trace of blood.
Perhaps the most famous tale from the Great Dismal Swamp was that of two Native American lovers.
The woman died before the wedding and was buried in the swamp. The man later drowned while paddling out, because he swore he could see her in a white canoe.
Now the ill-fated can reportedly be seen from time to time paddling on Lake Drummond together.
8. The Grove Park Inn
Although the ghost remains unidentified, it is believed that she’s a young woman who fell 5 stories to her death– from Room 545 to the Palm Court Atrium– back in 1920.
A contractor who was repairing the room felt a presence, got the chills, and felt a tugging on his ear. He ran out of the room scared out of his wits and never returned.
Since then, many guests have reported encounters with the Pink Lady, most of which involve being touched by her. But the general consensus seems to be that she is gentle, not malevolent.
9. Paint Rock
Paint Rock has been a landmark for eons, featuring one of the best examples of Native American pictographs in North Carolina.
The figure of a lone Cherokee man has been seen walking through the forest near Paint Rock.
But what makes this one of the most haunted places in North Carolina is more about the famous body water it overlooks. Legend has it that singing maidens here have lured men to their deaths.
Paint Rock can still be visited today, and remains famous as the best place in North Carolina to see in-situ Native American pictographs.
10. Teach’s Hole
Located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Ocracoke Island is riddled with ghostly stories, particularly the tale of Teach’s Hole.
Ocracoke Island was the home and final resting place of the pirate Blackbeard (real name Edward Teach). He was known as a great intimidator, inspiring white flags at just the sight of him.
Despite having given up piracy and pledged allegiance to the Queen, Teach was beheaded in 1718 by Lt. Robert Maynard of the British Royal Navy.
Maynard was sent by the governor of Virginia, who was not convinced the famed pirate was truly willing to give up the lucrative trade.
Blackbeard is now said to haunt the land near where his body was tossed into the sea (known as the Point, or Teach’s Hole). Witnesses report seeing him pacing the shoreline, looking for his missing head.
Ocracoke Island can be accessed via a state ferry or personal boat. –by Jonathon Engels; featured image of a fire whirl at Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge by Greg Sanders via USFWS