Haunted North Carolina

See the Haunted North Carolina map

Battery Park Hotel

The "writingest state" is full of terrifying tales, spooky stories, and macabre myths dating back to the days of the very first European settlers on NC shores. Learn about some of this hair-raising history with the Haunted NC Literary Tour, sponsored by the NC Literary Map!

In the late 16th century, the first European settlers arrived in what is now North Carolina. This "New World" offered colonists an opportunity to explore far beyond their home shores, discover valuable resources, and claim a vast expanse of territory that had never been touched by human hands.

Or so they thought, until they came across the native tribes who already lived there.

The legend of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island is a favorite story that's been handed down for generations, made all the more mysterious because it is true. Today, historians and researchers are fairly sure they have worked out what likely happened to the 150 men, women, and children—including the first English child born on New World soil, Virginia Dare—as well as the fifteen vanished soldiers who had been left to guard the settlement at Roanoke a year prior to the colonists’ arrival. However, in the way of ghost stories everywhere, questions persist and torment the imagination. Eerie lights, strange sights, and a whole new world of unexplored terrain became a vital and beloved part of the history of the land and its people . . . both those who already inhabited it and those who were irresistibly drawn by its promise.

North Carolina's rich topography of vibrant coastal waters, fertile farmland on the coast and in the rolling foothills, and sprawling forests of the western mountain ranges provides an equally rich heritage of frightful folklore and homegrown "haints." Anywhere you go in this state contains hundreds of years' worth of history, some of it not-quite-fact and some of it not-quite-fiction, and all of it fit for fireside story circles full of smoke and shadows.

Why does nothing grow in the daunting patch of bare soil known as the Devil's Tramping Ground? Are the Brown Mountain lights really just atmospheric gases, or could there be a more supernatural explanation? Did the infamous pirate Blackbeard curse the coastal waters where he met his doom? Who is the ghostly Lydia, and what happened on the lonely, abandoned bridge where her spirit has lingered for decades?

Some of North Carolina's best-known literary minds have asked these questions since the disappearance of the Roanoke Colony. In this tour of the state, the NC Literary Map has gathered the most popular stories, complete with recommended reading material for any book-loving ghostbusters who want to know more about the weird, inexplicable, impossible, and downright unearthly stories that continue to fuel writers' imaginations.