Legends and Lore – Ghosts in the Gorge

Ghosts in the Gorge

“A very numerous crowd of beings resembling the human species, they were of every size and all clad with brilliant white raiment, and they appeared to rise off the side of the mountain.”

 

This account was told by a woman named Patsy Reaves on July 31, 1806. She and her children related that while they could not make out any distinct features, the images ranged from infant to adult with no distinction as to gender. Legends of ghostly sightings within the Hickory Nut Gorge and the tales they sparked date back to the early 1800’s. The Reaves family’s report was confirmed by other eyewitnesses. One such testimonial was given by a man by the name of Robert Siercy.

After spending the next hour watching the strange spectacle, he told of seeing the mystical throng rise to the top of Chimney Rock. When all but a few had gathered there, three members of the crowd advanced upward above the others, hovered there then led the congregation of shining beings up through the air to disappear heavenward. Five years later, in 1811, five other people witnessed the same sight in the same place, further fueling the Reaves family account.

Ahh, but what of the fierce battle enacted high in the air?

Subsequently, this strange event was seen in Chimney Rock as several witnesses claim to have seen a pair of armies, riding tiny, winged horses. These armies met in a fierce battle high in the air. Over the next several days, the warriors, brandishing swords, would circle one another in the sky over Chimney Rock. The witnesses told of hearing clashes of metal and groans of the wounded, which lasted about ten minutes. At the end of the battle, the defeated army retreated, and the victorious army disappeared into the darkness.

Soon after, a public meeting was held in the nearby town of Rutherfordton to discuss this. The attendees concluded that the battle was a divine vision. It was believed to represent a time warp, revealing highlights from the not-to-distant Revolutionary War. A peek into the future? Maybe. Maybe not. But certainly, an awesome sight to see!

Fast-forward a hundred years or so,

tales of the ghosts who haunt the Lake Lure Inn, built in 1927, raise a few chill bumps. In the 1930’s the story came about of a jealous groom who murdered his wife for talking to another man in the Inn’s lobby. The couple were staying in room 217-218, which was at that time one large room. Since that tragic time, guests have described an overpowering smell of roses in those rooms, furthermore, some have even reported seeing a lady in white roaming the halls.

The Bottomless Pools located nearby were the spot of a 1985 calamity. A young boy from a nearby town slipped on a mossy spot and fell from a rocky ledge. Tragically, he perished in the pools. Several people have told of seeing a boy fitting his description wandering the halls of the Lake Lure Inn. Housekeepers have also whispered of hearing the sound of bouncing balls in the basement, and of one in particular being teased by the boy. On one instance, she said she felt her hair being pulled straight up above her head. Hair-raising, indeed!

The beautiful Flowering Bridge is a popular spot for visitors to the area and full-time residents alike. But few know is it used to be referred to as Clementine’s Bridge. The bridge is said by some to be haunted by Clementine, a beautiful young woman who was water skiing in the 1960’s,  lost her balance and as a result was hurled into the bridge, where now her spirit still lingers.


So many stories, told and retold through the years. Many of them based upon actual facts, many embellished, but every one of them important. For it is through our stories that our history is formed. The history of Hickory Nut Gorge.


Written by Andrea Stewart and Melva Dye

Sources:

https://northcarolinaghosts.com/mountains/chimney-rock-apparitions/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJGxrD2cRE8

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/28828178/asheville-citizen-times/

https://www.city-data.com/forum/western-north-carolina/177169-haunted-north-carolina-mountains-foothills-3.html

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/48408/48408-h/48408-h.htm#c15

 

 

Legends and Lore- The Little People of Hickory Nut Gorge

The Little People of Hickory Nut Gorge 

The mountains of Western North Carolina have long been a place steeped in mystery. Legends range from reports of documented sighting of luminous, many-hued lights flickering against the darkness of the mountains-which some say are the spirits of lost travelers searching for their homes-to stories of chilling fascination associated with ghost towns dating back to the Civil War. Imagine, if you will, a solitary trek through a mist-shrouded forest where the snap of every twig beneath your feet echoes and every tree creaks and moans when the wind blows. What was that sound? Could it be the spirits lying beneath a nearby forgotten graveyard choosing this particular moment to mess with an ill-fated wanderer?


If you happen to be hiking in the area of the Hickory Nut Gorge, then you are passing through one of the oldest routes through the southern Appalachians. And one of the most beautiful. The villages of Bat Cave, Chimney Rock and Lake Lure lay nestled within the approximate 14-mile route from Gerton to Lake Lure. According to historians, we know that the Gorge formed one of the few natural gaps in the mountains, allowing settlers traveling west to pass through on their route to Tennessee and beyond.
But how was the Gorge with its high-walled valleys, craggy rock cliffs and narrow pathways actually formed? A popular notion is that earthquakes hundreds of years ago loosed the giant boulders, causing them to thunder down the steep mountainsides to the river below – the Rocky Broad River.

It seems fairly safe to assume that the first people in the Gorge were Native American Indians. To be specific, they were Cherokees, part of the Catawba tribe. Legend has it that the Indians were not comfortable in the Gorge. Actually, they feared the area, believing it to be inhabited by spirits. In spite of their superstition, though, the Gorge provided a gateway to the land below, allowing them access to their prized tobacco.
As years pass, so legends are born and nurtured. Apparitions on the mountainside, or appearing in the sky?
Veiled images swirling within fog, perhaps? When dusk begins to gather and the mists rise from the river bottom to grow thick and obscure the high rocky walls of the Gorge, a never-solved mystery becomes a reality to those who have in fact seen them. By them, I speak of the Little People of Hickory Nut Gorge. Local legend hints that they disappeared in the great earthquake. Or, that only a few survived and have long since passed. Some say that it’s only a myth, that they never existed in the first place…

Ah, but the mystical tribe not only existed a century ago; they still do. What makes me such an expert, you might ask? Well, because I am a Little Person! First of all, you need to understand that we are not fairies.
Or elves. We do not have wings; therefore, we cannot fly. And although we are rarely seen, we are not invisible-only selective. Just so you know.

I am thought of among the People as ‘different.’ Actually, they look upon me as being very strange. This could be because I don’t go in for the constant drumming and dancing that occupies most of their days. But just because I’m not very sociable doesn’t mean that I don’t have feelings. I do. I just keep them to myself. Perhaps that’s how I got my name. The People call me Lanis: the one who is peaceful. And I don’t cry. At least, I don’t ever remember crying, although I have tried to do so on many occasions. My heart broke when the rocks rained down and took the mother and the baby and so many of the People.

Although my days are spent in quiet seclusion, they never reflect loneliness. You should also know that I am very brave. I wander these woods on nights when the fog comes and the owl hoots, but I never fall victim to imagined fears that feed the other children in the tribe. But that’s just me.


My daily chore is to gather nuts and berries and herbs. I never get lost, so I do this very well. Today, though, I am on another mission. My senses told me that today was the day. So, after rising well before the sun could burn through the early-morning fog, I slipped from my hut nestled underneath a rock outcropping. The first part of my trek took me down the steep mountainside to the river. And here I rest beside one of the deep, still pools. Gazing at my reflection in the crystal water, a not unfamiliar expression of distress looks back at me.

If only! If only my image would mirror a different Lanis! One with sleek black hair and blemish ­free skin instead of this mass of unruly russet tresses that constantly fall across my freckled face! I would see different body, too; a tall body with sinewy back and long, straight legs that would carry me through the forest with ease. But enough about me and my discontent with my appearance and on with my mission. The first part of my journey was easy; now comes the difficult part. Climbing up the other high wall (grunt) of the valley is difficult with my short legs (pant), but I can do it. I must do it. I must see (whew) them. One … more … time!

There; by threading my way through the tall ferns, scrambling over one huge bolder after another and reaching this rocky shelf just below the trail’ s edge, I’ll be able to see them when they come walking down the path. That was quite a journey! But I’m here now, and I’ll wait and watch them as I have countless times as they hunt for food or fish in the river. Today, though, I fear will be different and not in a good way.
Talk is, that the Tall Ones are leaving the Gorge forever, and that this is the day of their journey. It is said that they fear us. But why? We are so small! Some say because they believed us to be a family of specters, that their medicine men cast spells long ago, causing the boulders to rain down from the hillsides to crush us. I find that hard to believe. And even if there was some truth in it, we’re still here, aren’t we?

My people also talk in hushed tones of treasure buried in the Gorge and of the strangers who found it, fought over it, and are no more. Personally, I think that the treasure is all around us in the serenity of this place and all it provides us in life. Again, that’s just me-peaceful, simple.

Wait; what did I hear? Oh, it is them! My vantage point allows me to peek unseen just over the trail’s edge. Just look at them! The men walk ever so stately in front with their spears, their headdresses regal, their faces solemn. Behind them come the women, toting packs, with babes strapped on their backs. Their journey is silent and purposeful. I feel such anguish at their departure as all too soon, the last one disappears around the sharp bend in the trail. And I am alone once again.

The day is slipping away, and I must begin the arduous journey back to our huts. I cast one more furtive glance down the empty trail, as I brush the rain drops off my cheek. Wait a minute! The bright blue sky above the jagged outline of the pine trees shows no rain clouds! So, how can it be raining? Ah, now would you look at that-tears! Perhaps I’m not so different, after all. My tears, so long in coming, mourn the tall ones’ leaving. The spirits tell me that one day they will return, though, and perhaps then they will not fear us.


I, Lanis, will be here when they return and when others come as well. The Little People will always be here, for we are timeless-a timeless and enduring part of the mystique that is Hickory Nut Gorge.


Written by Melva Dye

Legends and Lore