Five mysteries and urban legends from North Carolina


Image by Reilly Calvert

Over the years many legends have emerged from North Carolina. Some of them suggest sinister things might lurk in the woods.

Reilly Calvert, Rooster Reporter

During the Halloween season, it is common to hear of spooky, mysterious tales, and North Carolina has plenty of its own. If 2020 has not been scary enough for you, here are five of North Carolina’s creepiest mysteries and urban legends.


The Devil’s Tramping Ground

It’s best not to go camping at the Devil’s Tramping Ground in Bear Creek, North Carolina. In the middle of the forest is a barren, 40-ft diameter clearing where nothing is able to grow. Objects placed within the circle are said to disappear the next day, dogs bark and shy away from it and those who spend the night within it report a strange sensation hanging over them.

It is said that this is where the Devil goes to walk in circles at night, to think up nefarious plots and spread his evil around the living world. Maybe this bleak clearing is a portal to the underworld itself.


Brown Mountain Lights

Over Brown Mountain, North Carolina, strange flashes and lights are seen in the night sky known as the Brown Mountain Lights. For hundreds of years these lights have been seen, and as hard as scientists and government officials have tried, there has never been any proven explanation for their cause or origin. Some say these lights are the spirits of ghost maidens looking for fallen loved ones after the battle of the Cherokee and the Catawba, or perhaps they are linked to aliens and UFOs.


Gravity Hill

In Richfield, North Carolina, there is a road called Gravity Hill that seems to defy the laws of physics. If you put your car in neutral, instead of rolling backwards down the hill, your car will go up the hill.

Why? The legend goes that a mother and her child were driving along this road when their car stalled, so the mother got out to try and push the car the rest of the way up. When she got to the top, a truck came carelessly by, hitting the mother and the child and killing them both. The two spirits remain at Gravity Hill and push your car up it. If you put baby powder on the trunk, you will see their handprints appear.


The Beast of Bladenboro

The Beast of Bladenboro is supposedly a creature responsible for multiple deaths in Bladenboro, North Carolina during the winters of 1953 and 1954. People’s livestock and dogs were killed and mutilated, drained of blood, horses left with their jaws broken or removed. Resident Mrs. C.E Kinslaw even claims to have been chased by the beast.

No one knew what kind of creature would do this — witness reports only mentioned possibly seeing something resembling a huge, cat or bear-like animal. The animal was said to look like “a bear or a panther, three feet long, twenty inches high, with a long tail and a cat’s face,” and with a terrifying scream like “a woman with a knife stuck in her back”. This myth pervades through Bladenboro still, although it has been free of attacks since the 50s.


The Carroll A. Deering

Off of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, a five-masted commercial schooner called the Carroll A. Deering washed ashore with the crew nowhere to be found. Five months before the ship was discovered run aground, it had set sail from Virginia, delivering its coal cargo on schedule towards Rio de Janeiro. It successfully delivered the cargo and was on its way to return home in December.

When the ship arrived at the Cape Lookout lightship on Jan. 28, 1921, a crewman had reported the ship lost its anchors in a storm, and the ship’s captain described the crew as “milling around” on the quarterdeck of the ship for suspicious reasons, since they were not usually allowed to be there. On the morning of Jan. 31, 1921, the ship was found wrecked on the shoals. The crew and equipment had all completely disappeared. Despite an extensive search by the FBI, no one was ever found and there has been no explanation for what happened to this ghost ship.