Entrenched between a graveyard of sunken ships and the scene of one of the country’s longest-running unsolved mysteries, the Outer Banks is more than just a sunny beach vacation spot - it is a supernatural tapestry, woven with the fabric of a tumultuous history, a chilling past, local legend and eerie folklore, bringing ghost stories to life from Corolla to Roanoke Island and everywhere in between. This is a collection of some of those tales.
The Ghost Fleet of the Graveyard of the Atlantic
Forever entombed on the bottom of the ocean, just off the coast of the Outer Banks, lies a ghost fleet of vessels, where thousands of ships have met their demise. The alarming loss of life was enough to prompt the government to establish life saving stations along the Outer Banks in the late 1800’s. Ghosts of the many sailors who went down with their ships are said to haunt the beaches along the coastline, frightening sounds of drowning screams have been reported, and some people claim to have seen “ghost ships” sailing atop the ocean at night.
Murder at Station Six
One of the lifesaving stations that was established in response to the massive maritime disasters in the late 1800’s was Station Six - the Kitty Hawk Life Saving Station - which is now a part of The Black Pelican restaurant. While the majority of the building has been rebuilt, part of the original structure remains, as does the spirit of a victim that is said to have never left.
Surfman T.L. Daniels was shot dead in that very building by Station Keeper James Hobbs 132 years ago. Today, restaurant workers and patrons alike have encountered bone-chilling experiences, including children seeing blood running down the walls, a ghost in the bathroom, an apparition in the corner of the dining room, and noises of footsteps and closing doors heard often in an empty restaurant. When entering the building, visitors will pass over top of the exact spot where Daniels was said to have been shot to death. Many workers refuse to go upstairs at night, as it is believed that the ghost of T.L. Daniels has never left the building.
The Haunting at Whalehead
One of the most haunted places on the Outer Banks is the Whalehead Club in historic Corolla. Built in the early 1900’s by Edward Collings Knight, for his wife, Marie-Louise, the mansion has, over the years, transformed from a personal residence to an abandoned home, and then into a museum, curated to celebrate the era and history of the time in which the home was built, allowing visitors to tour the home.
In all of its states, eerie sounds and sightings have occurred, causing paranormal activity experts to recently visit the house - only to confirm the suspicions of the many people who have been scared there.
Reports of clanging pots and pans, doors banging shut, and voices coming from empty rooms have been heard. In the late 1960’s when a government employee was allowed to stay in the home with his family while working in the area, the man reportedly awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of a creaking door and a bumping in the room he was staying in with his wife - Mrs. Knight’s old room. He went to the bathroom, planning on shutting the opened door on his way back to bed. When he came out, he stepped around a woman who was crouched down in the doorway, assuming it was his wife already attending to the opened door, but when he returned to bed he found her fast asleep.
During a more recent tour of the renovated home, a woman asked the tour guide about two men she has seen talking in the corner of the library, only to find that no one else had seen them. These are only a couple of the many haunted occurrences that have happened at the Whalehead Club in Historic Corolla.
The Curse of the North Room
The quaint, Victorian home found on the grounds of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse was first built in 1836. The North Room of this home is said to be haunted, after different families who lived there while tending to the lighthouse all experienced tragic events with only one connection...the North Room.
Believed to have been the first victim of the haunting of the North Room was young Sadie Johnson, daughter of the first lighthouse keeper whose body was found washed ashore after she drowned playing in the ocean. The North Room was her bedroom.
A family friend of one of the keepers came to stay at the house for a brief period of time, and while staying in the North Room, became infected with an unknown illness and died shortly after.
Finally, the last keeper and his family to live in the house experienced yet another tragedy. The keeper’s wife contracted tuberculosis and was quarantined to the North Room...where she died. It is reported that workers later renovating the home and those who have recently worked at the lighthouse refuse to go into the North Room to this day.
One of history’s most notorious pirates, Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard, spent much of his time on the Outer Banks. Known to be an exceptionally brutal and torturous pirate, Blackbeard, was finally captured and beheaded in what is now known as Teach’s Hole, located in a cove just off of Ocracoke Island.
Legend has it that when Blackbeard was decapitated by Lieutenant Robert Maynard, his bloody head, which was said to have continued screaming after it was cut off, was hung from Maynard’s ship’s bowsprit and his headless body was thrown overboard, and is said to have swum around the ship three times before succumbing to the depths of the ocean below.
Since that day, sightings of a headless body swimming around the cove have been reported, and many people also claim to have seen a headless figure walking the shores of the beach at night, holding a lantern. It is said to be Blackbeard, to this day searching for his own head.
Knocking at the Lighthouse
The old gatekeeper’s cottage, located beside the Bodie Island Lighthouse in South Nags Head, is said to be haunted. Every day, at 4 p.m., visitors and workers alike claim that there is an unexplainable knocking that comes from behind the brick wall above the fireplace.
The Lost Colony and the Legend of the White Doe
Few things are as mysterious as the unexplained disappearance of more than 100 people who settled on Roanoke Island in 1587 - a group of people who would come to be known as the Lost Colony. With only a single word, “Croatan,” carved into a fort post left behind as a clue to what might have happened to the ill-fated colony, the mystery of their demise has haunted historians for centuries, and some say the ghosts of those who disappeared still linger around the sleepy island to this day.
The most notable of the missing colonists was Virginia Dare, the first born child to English parents in the New World. Whatever became of the baby girl continues to baffle historians and the general public alike, even 400 years later. As local lore has it, the legend of the white doe tells of a mysterious, pure white creature that is said to haunt the island as it roams, and is believed by many to be the spirit of Virginia Dare herself. Some even say her essence will speak to those who are brave enough to approach the mystical animal if seen. So the next time you’re on vacation on the Outer Banks, don’t forget about who might be exploring Roanoke Island alongside of you, and keep an eye out for the white doe.
Embark on a local-led ghost tour during your next Outer Banks vacation, or explore for yourself the mysterious possibilities that could be lurking around every corner of the sandbar.