Creepy, I said when I saw a copy of the book Weird Carolinas on my friend’s coffee table. The cover of the book beckoned me. Weird Carolinas, by Roger Manley and edited by Mark Sceurman and Mark Moran (authors of Weird US), is a travel guide to some of the most bizarre nooks in North Carolina and South Carolina. Chocked full of towns with names like: Purgatory, Last Chance, X-way, and Dark Corner, you would expect the Carolinas to be filled with fantastically frightening treasures, and you won’t be disappointed!
Let’s start with the Carolina to the north (and not just because North Carolina happens to be my home). North Carolina is already home to one of our country’s earliest mysteries, the Lost Colony. After being “dropped off” on the shores of North Carolina, a group of settlers seemingly disappeared when their scouting party returned for them in 1590. Only the word CROATON was found carved into a tree, and CRO in another tree. They were never seen or heard from again. This tale you may know, but there are a number of creepy stories from small North Carolina towns just waiting to be discovered.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina, also known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic due to the 600 plus ships that reside at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean off our coast, is famous for ghost ships, especially the Carroll A. Deering that was lost at sea, then found aground near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, but with no sign of the Capitan or crew. Food had been set out on the ship’s table, but uneaten, and the anchors were missing! The mystery has never been solved. A walk along the beaches of North Carolina’s Outer Banks at night will always yield ghoulish sounds and windy howls.
Perhaps my favorite tale is the Seven (or Six) Bridges. Between Rocky Mount and Leggett, North Carolina is a stretch of road called Seven Bridges Road. If you travel this ominous road after dark, you will count 7 bridges until you get to the end of the road. However, returning via the same route…you will count only 6 bridges!
Lydia the hitchhiker is a great story from Jamestown, North Carolina. In the early 1920s, a gentleman stopped on a small road to give a young girl in a party dress a ride. She claimed to have had a fight with her boyfriend at a party and was hitchhiking home. Her name was Lydia. The driver stopped in front of the house she said was hers, and when he got out to open the door for her, she disappeared. The family who owned the home said Lydia was killed a year before but drivers often see her ghost and try to help her home. The original road she frequented is no longer used, but she is still seen in the area at night.
Not to be outdone by its neighbor to the north, South Carolina also has its share of unnatural and ghoulish legends. The Summerville Light, just north of Summerville, South Carolina is an example of one these legends. According to the author of Weird Carolinas, “Most ‘ghost lights’ are likely to be benign, but not so the Summerville Light. We don’t know if it’s because the location — out Sheep Island Road, just north of Summerville, SC — feels so desolate or what, but there’s definitely a bad vibe here.” The legend centers around a railroad worker who was beheaded on the job, and his wife went out looking for him when he didn’t return home that night. The light is reported to be the light of the wife searching for her husband. Visitors to this area have reported unexplained damage to their cars, and cars stalling. Metal buttons and zippers becoming extremely hot are also reported oddities.
One of the most shuddersome cemeteries in the country can be found at the Unitarian Church in Charleston, South Carolina on Beaufain Street. It is reported that Edgar Allan Poe’s love, Annabelle Lee walks the cemetery among the trees and overgrown rose bushes.
Edisto Island, South Carolina is home to the Edisto Presbyterian Church and its mausoleum. A young girl in the 1850s died quickly of a disease believed to be diphtheria, yellow fever, or perhaps cholera. To prevent the spread of the disease, the girl’s body was quickly buried in a coffin and placed on a shelf in the mausoleum. The tomb was sealed until years later when another family member died, and upon opening the mausoleum, the family found the lid of the small girl’s coffin removed and her skeleton on the floor! Many believe the area to be haunted because the mausoleum door will not stay sealed.
Cemeteries, ghostly lights, strange collectors, evil spirits, and walking ghosts are all part of this delightful book and worth the read. I myself have made a list of some of my favorite urban legends and haunting tales from this collection and plan to check them out…but not alone of course!
List if Sources:
Robert Manley, “Summerville Light.” Weird Carolinas.