From deep within the Appalachian mountain range come some of the eeriest ghost stories ever told. The 480-million-year-old range has cast a long and mysterious shadow over the Atlantic Costal region of North America, extending from Newfoundland in Canada all the way into the American Deep South. Venture within their foothills, and chances are you'll hear spooky tales of the ghosts that dwell in the hills, forests, and valleys.
Ghost Helps to Convict Murderer
When his wife Zona's death was attributed to heart failure, Trout Shue thought he'd committed the perfect crime. However, there's no such thing as a perfect crime--justice has a way of being served in this life or the next. And in the case of the Greenbrier Ghost, justice reached out from the afterlife for a killer who thought he'd gotten away scot-free.
Sound far-fetched? Maybe, but it happened in the Greenbrier County, Tennessee right around the turn of the 20th century. This true story shows that when a murder victim's ghost is out for justice, it can be a killer's worst nightmare.
In 1897, Zona Heaster Shue was discovered lying on the floor of her home. A doctor ruled her death as heart failure. The story would have ended there, except Zona Heaster Shue wasn't about to let her murderer get away with his crime.
Soon after her funeral, Zona's ghost appeared to her grieving mother, sharing the grisly tale of her murder at the hands of her angry husband. Zona's spirit claimed that when Trout came home, he was furious when he discovered she hadn't prepared any meat for supper. In his rage, he strangled her, leaving her body for the neighbor's young son to discover the next morning.
Her mother took her story to the prosecutor, who conducted an inquiry. The doctor who declared Zona dead told how Trout wouldn't allow him to conduct a full examination of her body and had quickly buried her. Eyewitnesses described how Trout had dressed Zona in a high neck dress and tied a folded scarf over her head and underneath her chin. They commented that her head rolled to the side of her body as though something was wrong with her neck.
When Zona's body was exhumed, authorities determined her neck had been crushed from strangulation. Trout was arrested. Further investigation revealed this may not even be Trout's first foray into murder...his previous wife's death was suspicious as well. Zona's mother testified at Trout's trial recounting how her daughter's spirit had described the murder, proven true from the autopsy report. Today, an official state marker tells the ghost story of Zona Heaster. The state marker for the Greenbrier Ghost is in Sam Black Church in Greenbrier County.
Zona's case is the only documented incident where the ghost of a murder victim assisted in convicting her murderer.
Mansion of Ghosts
In the 1700s in Max Meadows, Virginia, a local distiller named Joseph Baker lived in a log cabin. He was a cruel man who kept enslaved people chained to the walls in the basement of the cabin. One night, two of his prisoners, Bob and Sam, managed to get free. They took an ax and killed Baker. Local lore suggests they placed his remains in a barrel of moonshine, perhaps a fitting death and disposal for one so cruel.
Bob and Sam escaped but were eventually captured and convicted of Baker's murder and sentenced to execution by hanging. Both were hanged from a tree near the house. Visitors know that Bob, Sam, and Joseph all remain--their ghostly forms are seen all around the property, still locked in their deadly conflict.
In 1826, Squire David Graham purchased Baker's land in 1826 and built a sprawling mansion on the site of the former cabin. While the Graham family was extremely wealthy. They also had enslaved labor on the property, and Squire's son, Major Graham, was a noted Confederate Lieutenant in the Civil War. Rumor has it he even hosted some super secret Confederate meetings at the mansion.
Bob, Sam, and Joseph were far from the only people who died at the mansion. A young girl, Clara, was a war orphan, adopted and tutored by Major's sister Bettie. She died from illness one winter, and her body was wrapped and stored in the mansion. Major's wife, Martha, was depressed, and ultimately severely mentally ill. Major imprisoned her in the mansion to protect the family from her increasingly erratic behavior. The house bears the marks of her imprisonment with her initials etched into the glass windows. Her apparition has been seen in the house and sometimes outside.
Major himself is also said to be an angry and brooding presence that haunts the mansion and grounds alongside Clara, Sam, Bob, Joseph, Martha, and others whose stories are likely equally harrowing.
Major Graham Mansion is in Max Meadows, Virginia and open to the public.
Lucy, the Ghost Hitchhiker
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in Gatlinburg, Tennessee is one of the spookiest places in the Appalachian Mountains, thanks to Gatlinburg's most famous ghost, Lucy. Her enticing apparition appears along the road, and concerned motorists stop to offer the beautiful young woman a ride.
Lucy is often seen in the woods near the ruins of her cabin that burned down in 1909 and claimed her life. The first reported story of the hitchhiker was almost a year after Lucy died. A young man named Forester saw a beautiful young woman in the woods and reined in his horse to offer assistance. She was barefoot and only wearing a nightgown, so the man took her home.
Forest was enamored with the beautiful woman. The next morning, he rode back to the house where he'd delivered her the night before. Inside he found Lucy's parents, who were stunned by his request to marry their daughter. Imagine the poor man's shock when the couple told him that Lucy had died in a house fire the previous year.
Ever since this first ghostly encounter, people have reported seeing Lucy walking barefoot along the road, asking for a ride home. Some report seeing an eerie apparition of a young woman standing in the woods watching the cars as though waiting for a ride. The road is restricted to cars only and is closed during the winter months. To access the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, you must take the Cherokee Orchard Entrance into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.
The Pink Lady
Picture it...an ethereally beautiful woman stands on a fifth floor balcony of a grand stone hotel. She's wearing a pink ballgown. Leaning over to survey the landscape, she loses her balance and topples five stories to the ground below. It's a tale that ends in tragedy, as the woman's body does not survive the fall, although it appears that her spirit does. This is the story of the Pink Lady of the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC.
Built in 1913 and named the Grove Park Inn, the charming and grand hotel has served as a quality retreat for well-heeled travelers seeking rest and tranquility in North Carolina. Visitors have reported encounters with the Pink Lady since the 1940s. They frequently see her. She's a friendly ghost that loves to roam the wide halls of the hotel, but also enjoys pranking the guests and the hotel staff.
She appears to staff and guests either as a bright wispy mist of pink or manifests as an almost corporeal vision wearing a pink ballgown. She's quite playful; she likes to move objects about a room to prank guests or move hotel employees' belongings so they have to hunt for them. She enjoys turning lights off and on throughout the hotel or the air conditioners in the guest rooms. Her favorite room to haunt is 545.
She has a way with young children who often tell their parents about the sweet lady wearing a long pink dress who played with them. Many guests find her sudden appearance unnerving, but seasoned employees are quite used to her antics.
So if you'd like to encounter a beautiful vision in pink, perhaps checking in at the Omni Grove Park Inn can be your next adventure. You'll have your own Appalachian ghost story to tell of the friendly and playful spirit who roams its halls.
Appalachian Ghost Stories
The Appalachian region is full of ghost stories, including one of the most famous Victorian ghost stories of all time and perhaps one of the most well-known of all time, the Bell Witch. Real ghost stories from the Appalachian mountains will send chills up your spine. These and other Appalachian ghost stories will change how you look at this beautiful region of the U.S.