North Carolina has some ghost towns that are deserted places that were once alive and thriving with communities full of people. Folklore about some of the towns report that they are haunted by ghosts of past residents. Other towns are empty crypts in which only memories of the once living reside.
Gold Hill in Rowan County
Gold Hill was founded around 1799. Soon after the Randolph Mine was built, miners came from all over to get their share of precious gold nuggets. Although several other mines were built after the Randolph, it is the only one that is legendary for not one ghost, but two.
It is said that a miner was murdered inside of the mine in 1842 because a fellow worker was jealous of his relationship with a young woman in town. The victim was lured in the mine and pushed down a shaft 850 feet deep. The remains were never found, but the story is that a shimmering yellow light visited the mine regularly. The murderer apparently went insane and began digging at the bottom of the shaft every night. His body was found smashed beyond recognition in the same spot.
A century later, another ghost was said to have inhabited the mine in the form of floating pieces of dismembered human remains. Rumor had it that it was the ghost of a man who died in a mysterious mine explosion. The town of Gold Hill is now a historic town with a very small population and some mines filled with ghostly remains.
Henry Mill Village in Burke County
Henry Mill Village looks just like a ghost town is expected to appear. Abandoned horse troughs and tumbleweeds are iconic symbols in the typical post Gold Rush town. But in the early 1900’s, it was a financially booming town that put other villages to shame.
The town boasted more than twenty buildings and a population full of mill workers. It was considered a gold mining town that offered prosperity to its residents until the mill went under and people started moving away. By 1987 the town was abandoned for dead.
Hollywood brought the town back to life for a brief period. It served as the location for a town in the 2012 movie, The Hunger Games. Tourists breathed some life back into Henry Mill Village temporarily, but a permanent resurrection did not happen for this North Carolina ghost town.
Lost Cove in Yancy County
Lost Cove was founded in the Civil War era. It began as an agricultural town, but when the railroad arrived, it was transformed as a community used for mining, logging, and more than a little moonshine.
In the 1950’s the town declined due to not having a reliable railroad system. Without it, the location was too remote and could not be sustained. It floundered for a while and then died. Today, the land is under ownership of The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservatory.
The Conservatory is working toward including the town in the Pisgah National Forest. In the meantime, it organizes guided hiking excursions along the trail of this ghost town.
Coal Glen in Chatham County
This ghost town was once an affluent coal mining community. But the morning of May 27, 1925 brought a disaster so devastating that the town was never the same. A massive explosion at the Deep River Coal Field killed 53 miners. The miners were working about a thousand feet beneath the ground.
The cause of the catastrophe was listed as coal dust or natural gas. The passage of North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act was passed more speedily due to the tragedy. What’s left today are a historical marker and a half-sealed opening to the mine.
Midland in Cabarrus County
Midland was the home of the Reed Gold Mine. It too is purported to be the site of the first gold find documented in the United States. In 1848, North Carolina had the most gold production in the country, until the great gold rush to California. The Reed Gold Mine was a treasure chest; it was remarked that miners dug gold “like potatoes.”
It is reported that the monetary value of gold recovered in the Reed Gold Mine reached over $1,000,000 a year. The mine had several owners until 1912, when underground mining ceased.
Today some parts of the underground tunnels in the mine have been restored to offer guided tours.
Bandana in Mitchell County
Like gold, silver mined in North Carolina made fortunes in mineral wealth for many people. The Sink Hole Mine had excavations that extended a third mile across and 80 feet wide. Old digging tools left by Indian miners were found in the depressions, along with 300-year-old trees.
In 1867, the mine was reopened to excavate what once was known as “white metal”. Over decades, mica was mined and used on a mass scale, bringing lots of money to the town. In the 1960’s, the commercial use for sheet mica decreased as solid state electronics were developed, and the Sink Hole Mine was closed. Bandana was laid to rest permanently. Some remnants of the mine are left today.
Exploring North Carolina Ghost Towns
Historians report that from 1804 to 1828, all domestic gold that was coined by the U.S. Mint was mined in the state of North Carolina. It was, during that time, known as “The Golden State”. But when it comes to the dead and deserted ghost towns in North Carolina, the best way to describe them is that they are lying in state.
Many towns that got started due to mining and agriculture are long gone.
These are 6 interesting ghost towns to visit, but there are literally hundreds more in the state. If you are interested in treasure hunting, these can be great places to search with a metal detector. Some of them don’t have any buildings left, so it will take you some research to find them!