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The Daily Tar Heel
Town Talk

Tales of Tar Heel Terror: The Most Haunted Places in Chapel Hill

Let me just begin by saying that I am the biggest scaredy-cat ever to grace UNC’s fine campus.

I wish I could learn to love creepy little ghost girls that crawl out of wells and nightmare-haunting figures with skin conditions, but for some reason or another I’ve just never found the appeal.

In fact, I have a one-horror-movie-per-year limit because it takes me the following 11 months to stop being freaked out. Even if there’s one out that interests me, I opt to read the summary on IMDB and allow my imagination to make me miserable without any visuals to help it along.

With this in mind, imagine my poor blood pressure during this season, especially in a place like Chapel Hill where Halloween is perhaps the biggest event of the year. I love the costumes, I love the parties, but the ghost stories that others are so interested in send me crying home to my mommy.

Personally I’ll pass on the “scary” part of Halloween and simply allow myself to enjoy all the Nov. 1 50-percent-off candy I plan on consuming instead. But for all of you absolute nutcases curious cats out there, here are some of the most haunted places within an hour of UNC’s campus, all for your ghost-hunting pleasure.

1. THE LEGEND OF GIMGHOUL CASTLE — Chapel Hill, N.C. | Fear Factor: Three scared emojis

Gimghoul Castle

Source: PBase

Let’s begin with a classic. What might be UNC’s best-known ghost story begins with a student, Peter Dromgoole, who attended the University in the 1800s. Legend has it that he and another student were both in love with a girl named Fannie. The two boys met on campus one night and agreed to hold a duel, set to take place the next day. 

Apparently, Fannie heard of the duel and ran to it, only arriving in time to see Peter brutally murdered. As dueling was strictly against the college’s rules, Peter’s classmates and assailant panicked and decided to bury and hide Peter’s body underneath a boulder called Dromgoole Rock, which is still covered in his blood to this day. Fannie died later the next summer from heartbreak, and the shadows of the two lovers have reportedly been seen together in the woods in the area.

Want a creepy bonus story? Following the death of Peter Dromgoole, the Order of Gimghoul was created in his honor. A secret society that exists in shadow at UNC, Gimghoul is known to be open to male juniors, seniors and faculty by invitation only. Although books exist on the society at UNC’s libraries, they are under strict restrictions and are difficult to access. Built in the 1920s, Gimghoul Castle is home to the order. The castle is said to be on 24/7 surveillance and boasts a grim “No Trespassing” sign. 

2CAROLINA INN ROOM 252 — Chapel Hill, N.C. | Fear Factor: One smiling devil emoji

Source: The Gracious Posse

Residents both dead and undead love to stay at the Carolina Inn. One resident, Dr. William Jacocks, lived in the hotel in Room 252 from 1948 until his death in 1965, but he has since decided to extend his stay into the afterlife.  

Occupants of his room have reported being locked out, seeing the curtains open and close on their own, and having footprints appear on the shower mat, while hotel staff report seeing him walking down the halls, rattling doorknobs in search of open rooms. 

Being remembered as a kind and fun-loving man, it is believed that his spirit is benevolent and simply wants to play harmless pranks on visitors. If you’re interested in paying him a visit, simply check into his room, which is now Room 256. Despite his being a friendly ghost, I think I’ll stick to my good ol’ flesh-and-blood roommate, anyway. 

3. CRYBABY LANE — Raleigh, N.C. | Fear Factor: Three death emojis

Source: Goodnight Raleigh

A Catholic orphanage housing dozens of children used to exist on this road. One night in 1958, the orphanage dormitory caught fire, and the entire building burned down, killing almost everybody inside; however, even years afterward, locals complained that they could still smell smoke. Some even choke on the air when walking through the area, and apparently, the cries of the children can still be heard ringing through the night. The houses that once surrounded the orphanage have since been abandoned, and visitors to the field still report a burning smell lingering in the air.

4. LYDIA’S BRIDGE — Jamestown, N.C. | Fear Factor: One shocked emoji + one dancing girl emoji

Source: The Town of Liberty

While driving along, drivers have reported seeing a girl dressed in a white dress desperately trying to flag down drivers in an attempt to get a ride. 

It is said that she will get into the car and tell you that her name is Lydia and that she is trying to get home. She will give you the address of a nearby home, but if you attempt to make further conversation with her, she will be unresponsive, seemingly lost in a daze. 

When you arrive at the destination, you will look back to check on her, but she will have disappeared. Thinking that she may have jumped out of the car and run into the house before they could notice, several people have approached the home and knocked on the door to see if Lydia made it inside. 

According to the woman who lives in the house, Lydia died long ago in an accident on the way home from a party. Her ghost still wanders around the bridge where she was killed, searching for a way to get home, not realizing she is dead.

5. CABE LANDS CEMETERY — Durham, N.C. | Fear Factor: Three ghost emojis

Source: RootsRated

Aside from being an excellent hiking spot, the Cabe Lands in Durham are home to a quaint ghost story. Located by the Eno River, those who venture about 200 yards off the path on the Cabe Lands Trail will find themselves in the middle of an abandoned family cemetery. 

Several visitors to the spot, which is home to the bodies of the Cabe family, have reported hearing the voices of a man, woman and child speaking to one another, with the phrases, “noise, of about, miller, flags and years” being the only decipherable words.

6. THE HORACE WILLIAMS HOUSE — Chapel Hill, N.C. | Fear Factor: One scared emoji  + one old man emoji

Source: Preservation Chapel Hill

If you take a visit to 610 Rosemary St., you will happen upon a quaint little home called the Horace Williams House.

Once home to a number of families in the early 19th century, the home was donated to the University by its final occupant, Horace Williams, who supposedly still haunts the home to this day. 

Visitors have reported objects being moved around the house, rocking chairs moving on their own and toilets flushing with no one around, while others have even claimed to have had conversations with Williams’ ghost. 

The historic home is now being preserved and is open to the public for visitation.

7. THE DEVIL’S TRAMPING GROUND — Bennett, N.C. | Fear Factor: 1000+ skull emojis

Source: NCPedia

Finally, if you are searching for a truly horrifying supernatural spot to visit, The Devil’s Tramping Ground in Bennett, North Carolina might be just the place for your next camping trip. 

Located just under an hour from UNC’s campus, the widely recognized spot is said to be a location in which the devil himself enters the world and plans how to unleash his evil on Earth. 

As pictured above, the spot is about a 40-foot wide circle in which nothing — trees, flowers or weeds — ever grow. It is said that anything placed within the circle will be thrown outside of it by morning and that no man who has attempted to spend the night within the circle has escaped sane. 

This is the place where one can supposedly see the devil in his pure form — a sight too horrible to leave any human unscarred.

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