American Folklore

American Folklore: North Carolina

American Folklore: North Carolina

North Carolina has a long history of human habitation. In that time, it has racked up some impressive folklore tales associated with its people and landscape. Tales range from the creepy to the mysterious. Here are some of the highlights of it.

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One of the original thirteen British colonies in North America, North Carolina was the twelfth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution; therefore, it is considered the twelfth state admitted to the union. Prior to becoming a colony and then a state, North Carolina was inhabited by Native Americans who practiced a woodland culture. The tribes were there from at least 750 A.D., and probably for longer, beginning with the Mississippian culture Natives who built stable settlements and pyramid buildings with flat tops. Later, more nomadic and nature-oriented tribes moved into the area, such as the Catawba, Chowanoke, Pamlico, Coree, Roanoke, Waccamaw, Waxhaw, Machapunga, and others.

The first known European exploration of the area was by Juan Pardo in 1566 and 1567. Pardo established a fort near the present-day city of Morganton, but it was only there for eighteen months before the local Natives killed all but one of the one hundred twenty men Pardo stationed there. The next European exploration was from Great Britain in 1584, with an expedition led by Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe. British colonization of North Carolina began a few decades later.

During its long and varied history, North Carolina has racked up some impressive folklore tales of its own. Here are some of the highlights of them.

The Mysterious Lights of Brown Mountain

The so-called Brown Mountain Lights have been spotted for at least two centuries, and maybe longer. Cherokee Natives who lived in the area in the 1700s saw them and believed them to be the ghosts of grieving maidens who had lost their lovers, and were still quite literally “holding torches” for them. A colonial surveyor reported seeing the lights in 1771 and believed they were the vapors of nitrogen carried by the wind.

Other people who have seen the lights over the centuries believe them to be aliens. The mountain is either a home for aliens or a beacon/favorite landing place for them. The TV show The X-Files even did an episode on the Brown Mountain Lights using aliens as an explanation for them. The lights are still shining on Brown Mountain today, and no definitive explanation has ever been made for them.

Normie the Lake Monster

Lake Norman in North Carolina is home to one of the many deep lake monsters around the world. Called Normie, this lake monster has sightings that go back for at least a century, maybe more. Those who have seen it describe Normie as having the appearance of a hybrid of an eel, alligator, snakehead fish, and catfish. It is at least ten feet long.

No one knows just what Normie is, which is pretty standard for deep lake monsters. The most recent reported sighting was in 2015. At that time, a park ranger saw a strange-looking animal eating the remains of a duck. The ranger said the monster was like the Loch Ness Monster in appearance, only smaller. Other people reported seeing Normie around the same time as the ranger. If you go to Lake Norman, you might spy Normie rising up out of his water home, too. Be sure to bring a camera, just in case he makes an appearance for you.

The Roan Mountain Ghost Choir

On the border between North Carolina and Tennessee is a five-mile-long ridge known as Roan Mountain. The ridge is pretty high, and strong winds at the top are common. At least since the 1700s and maybe before, there have been reports of ghostly singing voices at the peak, along with those winds.

However, no one can seem to agree on whether those voices are angelic or demonic in nature. Whoever hears them seems to hear them differently, and forms their own opinions. Whatever you may think of them if you hear them, there is no doubt that the voices sound like human singing. The ghostly choir can still be heard on the mountain today, and no one knows where it originates.

The Circle Where Nothing Will Grow

In the deep woods of North Carolina, there is a patch of ground where nothing will grow. It remains barren to this day. The legend says its lack of fertility is because it is where Satan comes to dance. According to the legend, any objects placed there overnight will either disappear or be thrown outside the circle as Satan dances. Animals refuse to walk across the barren patch of earth, and some human visitors have claimed to see red eyes peeking out of the center of the circle.

The Ghost of Blackbeard

North Carolina’s coast was a hotbed of pirating in the 1700s, and it was visited by some famous ones, including the legendary Blackbeard. There is even a small channel on Ocracoke Island known as Teach’s Hole, named after Blackbeard, whose real name was Edward Teach. The legend says that Teach’s Hole was Blackbeard’s favorite place to anchor his ship when he was in the area. His ghost is said to haunt Teach’s Hole today.

If anyone was going to haunt Teach’s Cove, it would be Blackbeard. He was an infamous pirate in his day, terrifying to his crew and civilians alike. He wore fuses braided into his beard and reigned the seas around North Carolina with an iron fist.

He terrorized the citizens so much that the governor of Virginia sent a group of men to find and kill Blackbeard in 1712. They succeeded, surprising the notorious pirate at Teach’s Hole, shooting and stabbing him, then decapitating him. They hung his head from his ship, killed all of his crew members, and threw his body in the water.

His ghost manifests in the form of strange lights just below the surface of the water at Teach’s Hole. These lights are said to be Blackbeard’s ghost searching for his missing head. There are also occasionally sounds like a monster that comes from the cove at Teach’s Hole, and these noises are said to be him. You can still see the lights and hear the noises today, so it seems that Blackbeard has not gone anywhere.



Will founded Ancestral Findings in 1995 and has been assisting researchers for over 25 years to reunite them with their ancestors.