• Jenna Gribble

Stranger Carolinas: Let's Get Weird

Updated: Sep 12


I was born on Halloween. Let me start with that.

As a small child, I can remember people always trying to scare me. I didn't really understand what Halloween was about; I just knew I got to dress up and my Father would put a jack-o-lantern on the top of our chimney, which was cooler than the rest of the neighborhood, who put them on the front porch. I got full size candy bars, while the rest of the kids got the fun size.

It was my birthday.

I knew it was all make believe. My parents explained that to me. It was all pretend. I never believed in that Hocus Pocus stuff. I didn't scare easily. I vividly remember my Father taking me into the Morehead Haunted House (it was on Morehead and Caldwell Street across from the Y, on the side closest to the city; it's since been torn down). I was young; small enough for him to carry me. I remember us standing at the bottom of the big creepy house, looking up a steep staircase at flashing lights and the guy at the door saying "You sure you want to take her inside Mr., it's awfully scary". He said "she'll be fine."

I was five...maybe.

That was the beginning of MANY haunted houses I would go into.

**The picture above is not the Morehead Street haunted house, but its how I remember it. Big and terrifying.

I am fascinated with history. And with history comes stories of ghosts and murder and betrayal. I especially like history about the South, in my city and state and trust me, there's a lot of it. My family goes back six generations in Charlotte. I live on the old Marsh Farm property in Sedgefield, that backed up to the Graham Farm; yes, as in Billy Graham. He used to live on Park Road less than a mile from where I grew up. My father's parents lived about a mile from me near Freedom Park. I used to pick my Grandfather's brain about the history of Charlotte. He was full of stories; most old people are. We'd sit on the front porch in the swing, and he'd always have a Lucky Strike cigarette in his hand. Even when he wasn't smoking, I could still see smoke coming out of his mouth. He was a great man. He lived to be 96. The amount of time I spent with my grandparents (which was a ton) before they died is something I wouldn’t trade for the world.

My mother used to ride horses on the land where I live when she was a teenager. She grew up a street over from my home on Auburn Avenue. Before I was born, her father committed suicide at the house. I didn't find this out until later in life. I had always heard what a wonderful, sweet man he was. I like to think that he is watching over me; a friendly ghost, if you will.

I love exploring and while most trips aren't that expensive, I have put myself on a budget. If I have money, I spend it. So, where can I go and explore that doesn't include airfare? I prefer day trips. Yes, getting up at 4am and hittin' the road. The state of North and South Carolina are full of weird and creepy places. I recently did some research and put together a list of strange and bizarre and possibly haunted places I would like to visit, that are right in my backyard. The Carolina's have a ton of history attached to them. Stories that are just...bizarre and crazy. I’m fascinated by this stuff.

So, here is my list.

Spencer Mountain Mansion (Spencer Mountain, NC) I have been trying to get down to Spencer Mountain. The mansion, also known as the Pharr Yarns Mansion or the Old Love House is abandoned. I heard that years ago it was used as a haunted house.

I have heard a lot about this abandoned mansion. It's apparently built on top of the Spencer Mountain cemetery. No wonder it's haunted.

Per the Spencer Mountain website: "Lights randomly turn on and off for no reason , batteries in equipment lasts for only minutes, voices talking when no one else is there, music playing when there is no power turned on, tools being moved from one place to another, someone walking around upstairs when no one else is there, children laughing, cold spots throughout the mansion {mostly upstairs and in the basement} and much more..."

The Myers House (Hillsborough, NC) Did you guys know that there is an exact replica of the house from the movie Halloween near Raleigh? Uber fan Kenny Caperton and his wife built the house after his favorite 1978 horror film. Want to read more? Visit HERE

The Grave of James Reid's Foot (Salisbury, NC) I have heard this story many times. James lost his foot when it was run over by a train on November 25th, 1893. They had a service at Old Lutheran Cemetery in Salisbury for the foot, like when Rudy's goldfish died on The Cosby Show.

James lived seven more years, to the age of 95. He was buried at Trading Ford Baptist Church, about 8 miles away. His "footstone" has become a popular stop on the Roadside America Tour.

The Fugitive Train Wreck (Sylva, NC) I loved this movie. Watching Dr. Richard Kimble's (Harrison Ford) escape from the wreckage and then on the run to go prove his innocence. The 1993 film, The Fugitive was a huge success and the bus/train scene (see below) is pretty amazing. It was actually filmed on the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad. The bus actually belongs to the Illinois Department of Corrections. The epic crash sequence cost a whopping $1.5 million, because they used a real train. They had to shoot the whole thing in one take, and spent two months choreographing the event. They then had to dig the cameras out of the wreckage...it took eight hours to unearth one from under 26 feet of dirt.

I read that there are two different ways to visit the wreckage. You can ride the Tuckasegee River Excursion (tix are $50-$75) offered by the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, or you can drive to 973 Haywood Rd, Sylva, NC 28779 and see if from there.

Helen's Bridge (Asheville, NC) Ok, this is this creepy(er) stuff. I can't explain places like this. There's a vibe. Something bad happened here. It looks like a creepy old bridge, and it is. But when you read about this history; that's the stuff that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

The story behind Helen's Bridge is quite horrific. The bridge was originally known as Zealandia's Bridge, but after the death of Helen's daughter in a fire, she couldn't cope and she hung herself from the bridge. There have been reports that late at night a woman is seen in a white nightgown asking where her daughter is. Visitors report that they feel like they are being hit or slapped. The energy is very negative and just bad vibes all around. But I want to go.

Carbonton Dam Powerhouse (Sanford, NC) The powerhouse isn't necessarily haunted, but it's just a cool roadside attraction. Since the 1800s, the Deep River had been dammed, but in 1921 the Carbonton Dam was built. In 2004, that the Powerhouse stopped generating electricity and a year later the dam was demolished completely. But the powerhouse remained...and over the years has become a ghostly sight to the area.

Chicken Alley (Asheville, NC) This is said to be the most haunted place in town. So, what's the story behind the Big Chicken?

Chicken Alley is small, narrow walkway found in downtown Asheville. In the early 1900's, a man named Dr. Jamie Smith who was a prominent physician, entered Broadway's Tavern at Chicken Alley (named because years ago chickens used to congregate here) and walked into a bar brawl. He was trying to break up the fight when he was stabbed in the heart and died instantly. The killer was never found. A year later the tavern burned down. For the last 100+ years, people have reported seeing a man in a wide-brimmed black fedora hat and long, duster-style coat and tapping his cane.

Maybe he just wants a beer?


I have visited this spot a few times and its definitely got a creepy vibe. The murals that are painted to tell the story of Dr Smith are absolutely beautiful.

Biltmore Greensboro Hotel (Greensboro, NC) Built in 1895, the hotel is located at 111 West Washington Street. It was the first building in downtown Greensboro completely wired for electricity, with indoor plumbing, and also the home of Greensboro's first automatic electric elevator.

The hotel is alive with history and possibly the dead. “There have been many people, with good intentions and bad intentions that have walked these halls, and it’s possible some of that energy has been trapped inside,” says Brian Coleman, the Biltmore’s General Manager. When he first came to the Biltmore as a housekeeper in 2005, he was already aware of the stories of Philip and Lydia.

Philip was an accountant at the firm that used the office block that later became the hotel. To this day his death is a mystery. He was discovered in the alleyway beside the hotel by the Cone brothers. Was it a suicide or homicide? Had he jumped out the window? There were rumors that he committed suicide, but there was a piece of piano wire in his throat.

Phillip is said to be still lurking around.

His room number was 332, where strange noises have been reported.

Another ghost is said to be lurking around. Her name is Lydia. She was living their in 1932 and working as a lady of the night, aka prostitute. At that time, it was a board house called the Greenwich Apartments. Lydia was thrown over the lobby balcony by one of her "customers" and landed at the end of the stairs. They say if you stay in her room, Room 223, be respectful and bring something pink. Lydia's room is now decorated in pink, with a pink purse hidden in the closet and there’s pink lipstick on the dresser.

Jackson Building (Asheville, NC) This 15 story building is the first skyscraper in Western North Carolina and was designed by famous architect Ronald Green. It holds the record for tallest building on the smallest lot. The Jackson Building was built on the site of Thomas Wolfe's father's tombstone shop, the one mentioned in Look Homeward, Angel.

If you look at the top of the building, those gargoyles looks like something straight out of Ghostbusters. If only Bill Murray would appear!

I visit Asheville as often as I can and I have never noticed the huge red brick circle on the ground in front of the building. I did some research on the building and witnesses claim the top floor is haunted by a man who jumped to his death from the building on the day the stock market crashed.

People believe the target or bullseye at the base of the building marks the spot where the man landed almost a hundred years ago.

The Road to Nowhere (Bryson City, NC) “The Road To Nowhere”, as most local residents call it, is a 6-mile scenic drive into the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where it dead-ends.

Why?

This road was originally to be built to provide the many residents, who gave up their land for the Fontana Dam Project, access to their ancestral grave-sites. The famous tunnel is 1/4 mile in length and it's quite dark looking.

Like I need an excuse to go to the NC Mountains. I will walk through this tunnel. I hear the graffiti on the walls is really cool. Is it haunted? I have read different stories. I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe I will go in the Fall. The yellow leaves make it look a little less creepy.

**Honorable mention: the pool at the Biltmore House (Asheville, NC) I have visited the house a few times and yes, the pool is definitely haunted. It's a weird space with lots of energy.

So what's the story behind the spirits?

The Vanderbuilt's wanted a vacation home in the Carolina's, so George built his family what is known today as the Biltmore House. His wife Edith loved to throw parties. Who wouldn't in that house? History shows that she threw some killer pool parties. Today, visitors and employees report hearing splashing and laughing in the room. They also report that you can hear a woman calling the name "George", as Edith was known to often do.

Ok, that should keep me occupied for a bit. Bring on the road trips!

Do YOU dare visit any of these places? If you do, email me and tell me about your experience. jennagribble1031@gmail.com

Happy paranormal hunting. Stay weird.

Xo.

j

#StayTunedQC #ParanormalActivity #StrangerCarolinas #Abandonedplaces #HauntedPlaces #NorthCarolina

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