Legendary mysteries from around NC

Published 6:22 pm Friday, October 30, 2020

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Once Halloween is over, many people usually like to jump straight to Christmas. The familiar carols start popping up on the radio. Stores put up their colorful Christmas displays. And many people begin hanging up lights to add some extra holiday cheer to their houses.

But before we really get into the Christmas holiday spirit, indulge me just one more time for a more spooky-themed column before I, too, have to start worrying over buying Christmas presents.

I recently read an interesting article on WRAL’s website featuring several legends and folklore about mysterious creatures in North Carolina. I did some digging and found some other mythical tales from our state too. Though there are eerie tales of monsters and bafflingly strange legends all over the world, it’s cool that North Carolina also has some of its own.

Have you ever heard of Normie? That’s the name of the supposed monster who lives in Lake Norman, located north of Charlotte. Like “Nessie” who lives in Loch Ness over in Scotland, no one has been able to get any real proof that the monster exists, but tales of the lurking creature still persist.

Nobody can say for sure about whether or not Normie is real (maybe it’s just a really big fish??), but there is definitive proof of some other things lurking underneath the surface of the lake. An airplane once sank into Lake Norman in the 1970’s and was never recovered. Divers found it submerged in 2013 but they just left it there. It’s probably too waterlogged to fly anymore anyway! (The underwater plane in Lake Norman is actually a similar story to the underwater train left submerged in Kerr Lake. The train crashed in the early 1900’s, falling off a trestle into the stream below. It stayed at its crash site even when Kerr Lake was created in the 1950’s.)

Another interesting state legend comes from a part of the Cape Fear River down in Chatham County. Did you know people used to spot mermaids out there? That story stretches all the way back to the 1700’s. People visiting the local hangout spot, Ramsey’s Tavern, often reported seeing mermaids sitting on a sandbar in the river. The mermaids were said to be washing their hair and sometimes singing. It happened so frequently they named the sandbar Mermaid Point. Of course, people only seemed to spot these creatures whenever they were walking home from a long night at the tavern… so interpret that as you will!

Unfortunately, no one can spot mermaids at Mermaid Point anymore. The sandbar is now submerged under the river water and the tavern and its remnants are long gone. But who knows? Maybe there are still some mermaids swimming around in the river, taking a temporary vacation from the salty sea.

Chatham County is apparently just a good place for strange unexplainable mysteries, because it’s also home to the “Devil’s Tramping Ground.” That sounds slightly interesting, but in reality it’s just a spot of dirt where nothing seems to be able to grow no matter how many things you plant there. The legend, which has been told since at least the early 1800s, is that the devil walks around in the circle and that keeps the soil barren and dead. Why? Maybe he just likes the scenery in North Carolina?

That’s obviously not the true explanation, of course, but scientists haven’t found an answer for the mystery phenomenon yet even after testing soil samples for years. Like other mysteries around the state, we’ll probably never know what really created the Devil’s Tramping Ground. It’ll just remain mystery dirt!

There are countless other ghost stories, strange folklore, and mysterious legends spread across North Carolina. A few famous ones are the spontaneous Brown Mountain lights in the western part of the state and the ghost ship “Carroll A. Deering” which turned up off the coast devoid of its crew in 1921.

Some tales are similar to ones we have locally. The story of the Early Station Light in Hertford County—the railroad tracks where a mysterious light is said to be a lantern held by a headless ghost conductor—is almost the same story of the Maco light down in Brunswick County.

We probably will never find all the answers to the unexplainable mysteries of North Carolina, but they are fun stories to share, especially during this time of year when the nights seem longer and the cool breezes already send shivers down your spine. And if you dig around the stories deep enough, you also learn a lot of interesting true history along the way.

North Carolina is a fascinating state to explore. Maybe when the pandemic is over, try taking a drive and seeing what mysteries you can uncover.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.