It might be well-known for its associations with lovey-dovey movies like The Notebook and Dear John, but there’s a sinister side to North Carolina too. One of the original 13 colonies, North Carolina was also the first state to vote for independence from the British crown, so it’s got a lot to say for itself. Planning a hair-raising Halloween? Here are some of the most haunted places in North Carolina.
Scariest Places in North Carolina
1. Biltmore Estate, Asheville
America’s largest private home is also its spookiest. George Washington Vanderbilt II built the sprawling house in the nineteenth century – and some say he never moved on. Visitors have reported seeing a ‘shadowy figure’ in the Estate’s library and others have spotted a woman – likely his wife Edith – gliding down the corridor, whispering “George”. He died from complications from appendicitis and after his death, Edith continued to talk to him in his favourite spot, the library. Some say you can still hear them chatting. Staff also claim to have heard unexplained laughter, music, splashes from the empty swimming pool and clinking glasses.
As if that wasn’t enough, a former accountant died in the alley next to the building under mysterious circumstances, possibly murdered for finding financial discrepancies in the accounts. Guests staying in room 332, his former room, have complained about loud footsteps and shuffling paper. And in room 223, you might bump into Lydia, a former lady of the night. She was thrown down the stairs and killed by her client, but she still lingers around her old bedroom, which is now painted pink in her honour.
2. Grove Park Inn, Asheville
She’s no Casper, but compared to most ghosts the Pink Lady is pretty friendly – if a bit cheeky. She’s been haunting the Grove Park Inn since the 1920s, after falling to her death through the Palm Court Atrium. No one knows whether it was an accident or something a little more sinister, but she doesn’t seem to be out to get revenge. Room 545 is her favourite place to linger, so try and book this room if you’re keen to meet the spook. She likes to play harmless pranks on those staying there, rearranging objects in the guest rooms and turning the air conditions off. Some way they’ve seen her wandering around the hotel, either as a vibrant pink mist or dressed in a pink ballgown.
3. Battleship North Carolina, Wilmington
Commissioned in 1941, Battleship North Carolina played a serious role in every major naval offensive in the Pacific during World War II. As you might imagine, it has a few grizzly tales to tell and a fair few ghosts who aren’t quite ready to pass over yet. One of its most famous paranormal residents is a young sailor. Apparently, a Japanese torpedo hit the ships hull and killed five naval officers. One of them stuck around and can be found in a bathroom on the ship’s lower levels. Some claim to have seen shadowy figures peeping through the portholes, hatches opening all on their own and objects being hurled across the ship too.
4. Devil’s Tramping Ground, Bear Creek
Deep in central North Carolina, there’s a mysterious circle of dead grass. No trees or plants ever grow here, and no animal ever dares to cross its path. It’s rumoured that if you throw a pebble in the centre of the circle, you’ll summon the devil himself. And, if you stay here after dark, you’ll get to see the devil stomp about and dance in the circle. Those who’ve dared to camp here claim to have seen red glowing eyes and heard ghostly footsteps near their tents. Spooky stuff.
5. The Duke Mansion, Charlotte
The Duke Mansion is a lovely, lively hotel with sparkling service, crisp white linen, claw-foot bathtubs – and a ghost. The Colonial-era mansion was built by Jon Avery in the early nineteenth century. Legend has it that has started an affair with a young and beautiful writer while his wife was incarcerated in a mental institution. Eventually, the young writer ended the affair when she realised he’d never leave his wife. Avery told her he’d come for here whether he was “dead or alive”. A year later, the writer received a strange request to meet Avery in the circular garden at the Duke Mansion. When she saw him approaching, she reached out to grab his wrist, only for her hand to slide right through him. He turned to her and whispered, “Dead or Alive”. Later, she learned he’d died a week earlier.
6. Queens University, Charlotte
Students have reported multiple sightings of spooky paranormal activity over the decades – and some of them are truly terrifying. One story tells that a student fell asleep in room 303, and woke up to find her roommate slumped over her desk. She moved closer, only to realise that her roommate’s red hair was jet black. She started screaming when the body sat up and stared at her, waking her roommate who was asleep in bed the whole time.
Others report phantom screams and visions of Civil War soldiers in their bedrooms. Another student in Belk Residence claimed she kept being woken up in the night by her violently shaking desk. Eventually, when she woke up and tried to get out the room, the door locked itself and she saw the face of a girl appear on her closet door. A few years later, the same thing happened to another student.
7. The Brown Mountain Lights, Burke
The Brown Mountain Lights have been a hot topic for centuries. They appear after sunset, settling above the peaks but changing size, shape and colour. The earliest reports of the lights date back to the Cherokee and Catawba Native Americans. Legend tells that after a bloody battle between the two tribes, women went searching for their lost husbands. The lights are said to be those same heartbroken women who are still searching for their loved ones.
There are dozens of accounts from Civil War soldiers too. One story tells that an explorer came to the Brown Mountains to hunt with his slave. He ventured too far and no one ever saw him again. The story goes that one of those orbs is his slave, who still looks for him. It might seem an unlikely tale, but no one knows what or why the lights are there. The U.S. government has investigated them but never found the answer. If you want to take a look for yourself, head to Wiseman’s View.