Top Ten Most Haunted: The Outer Banks

Top Ten Most Haunted: The Outer Banks - Photo

A thin strip of islands that chain together off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, the Outer Banks are as haunted as they are beautiful. A seemingly docile area where 5 million tourists flock every year to take in the natural breathtaking beauty of the Carolina coast.

Stretching from Roanoke Island in the north to the more inaccessible Ocracoke Island in the south, these islands are full of mysterious bewilderment.

The first English settlement began in the Outer Banks on Roanoke Island. It is famously known to have vanished from existence in 1587, with 100 men and women disappearing without a trace.

Why are the Outer Banks haunted?

Future settlers of the area found the land amidst the waters to be perplexing. More colonists lost their lives in the waters here than anywhere else in the United States.

Off the coast of Cape Hatteras, there are even tales of a ghost ship. Blackbeard used this island chain as a well-placed hideout, while Ocracoke Island was the sight of his execution. They say his spirit lived on well after his death. 

This and more await you in the Outer Banks, so continue reading on with US Ghost Adventures to learn about its top ten most haunted locations.

1. The Lost Colony of Roanoke Island

The most well-known tale in the Outer Banks is that of Roanoke Island and its “Lost Colony,” a site also famous for being home to the first English-born American, Virginia Dare.

Her father, a man named John White, was the leader of the new colony. Established in 1587, it was the second of two failed attempts to colonize the new world.

It would not be until 1607, with the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, that a successful colony would develop. John White knew the failures of the last colony. He sought to prevent them by returning to England to gather more supplies, leaving his daughter, wife, and 115 colonists behind.

When he finally returned in 1590, after a war between the Spanish and British delayed his return trip, he found all 115 gone.

The words “Croatoan” had been etched on the side of a tree. Croatan was an island further south of Roanoke Island. White planned to wait out the long winter in the Caribbean before searching for the lost colony.

A Colony Lost

Bad weather and a lack of funding would keep him from ever returning, and the location of the colonists remains a mystery to this day.

Many believe they assimilated with Native American tribes further south. The village held no remains, and no buildings were burnt when found by White. When Jamestown was established, a settler heard from a Powhatan tribesman about a group of European settlers that lived further south with the Algonquin people.

Some are convinced that their fate was not so kind and that various attacks and brutality led to their demise. However, up until 2020, no remains indicated such a fate.

A sword and a gun from the area were discovered by archeologists, but there is no link between these artifacts and the lost colony members.

Why do the lost settlers of Roanoke Island haunt the Outer Banks?

Disappearing without a trace in 1589-90, the lost settlers’ spirits haunt the island today.

Ghosts of Roanoke Island

  • Spirits of the Lost Colony
  • Disgraced postman Roscoe Jones

2. The Hauntings of Roanoke Island

While these mysteries stay stuck in the American mind, sprouting endless research, expeditions, and even a couple of tv shows, the spirits of Roanoke Island are just as captivating as the story itself.

In the sleepy town of Manteo, residing along the waters of the Shallowbog Bay, the spirits are a part of everyday life for some residents. The docks have been the site of many particular hauntings.

In 2021, local resident and spear fisherman Chris Hannant reported seeing a strange shadow slide out from the darkness and go “down the hill to the docks.” He then went on to describe a night when he was holding onto a dock railing after coming in from the sea.

Hannant explains that he heard a loud boom on the railing after seeing the mysterious shadow. Could this be the spirits of the lost settlers of Roanoke?

Another resident that lives in close proximity to one of the many cemeteries on the small island spoke of her daughter talking to an imaginary friend named “Margaret.” Thinking it was her 2-year-old child’s imagination at work, she did not think much of it until one day; she discovered an old letter on the wall.

It was addressed to a certain “Miss Margaret.”

A Road to The Otherworldly

A sketch of the action at Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks

Source: Picryl

A road called Mother’s Vineyard is home to a 400-year-old Grapevine, the oldest in America, where the spirits seem to be just incredibly active. There are tales of a “ghost rider.”

The “ghost rider” is known as a phantom biker who rides in raggedy clothes along the old road. The bell of a  bicycle is often heard in the darkness, and some say it follows them.

A friend of Hannant, Chris Ellison, stated that when he was 9, he saw the ghastly rider flying down the road. He had a supernatural glow about him, prompting Ellison to run back to his house as quickly as he could.

Many locals believe Mothers Vineyard to be the area where the lost colony settled, as opposed to the experts who believe it to be on the north shore of the island.

It could very well explain all the spiritual activity.

Why is Roanoke Island haunted?

Many believe the spirits of the colonists that disappeared in 1589-90 haunt the island. They appear in various forms across the small island.

The spirits of Roanoke Island

  • The ghost rider of Mother’s Vineyard road
  • A young girl named Margaret in the town of Manteo
  • Shadow figures by the dock

3. The Roanoke Island Inn

Local sign for Roanoke Island with a note about its place in Outer Banks history

Source: Flickr

Built-in 1860, the Roanoke Island Inn is one of the larger and more historic buildings in the small town of Manteo. It has welcomed guests since 1937 and has been owned by the same family since its development.

It has nearly doubled from its original size due to renovations done by each new generation. Today it is run by a man named John Wilson, the great-grandson of Asa Jones, the original owner.

Asa and his wife Martha built this home with the intention of keeping his family in it for generations to come. Little did Jones know, he would unintentionally trap some of them here for eternity.

The Tale of Roscoe Jones

At one point, the home was owned by a man named Roscoe Jones. Jones lived in the house from his birth in 1885 to his death in 1953. Roscoe was the son of Asa and a hardworking man like his father.

He served as the first postmaster for the short-lived Griffin Post Office in Nags Head until taking that title in Manteo in 1922. He loved his job dearly.

Then one day, he was let go.

His service ended in 1934, likely due to the Great Depression. He received a letter from the US postal service stating his services were no longer needed. Poor Jones fell into his own depression.

What’s more, he became a recluse and was rarely seen by those that knew him.

His home became an Inn within this time period. He would not leave his room unless there was no one else in the building. He passed away in 1953, and many believe his spirit still resides in the old Inn.

After his death, locals reported seeing a man wearing a postal officer’s uniform leaving and entering the front door on a daily basis. Other odd things occur in the Inn as well.

Vases smash on their own, blinds flutter while the windows are closed, and radios turn on and off at their own leisure. Loud footsteps can often be heard from the top floor. While some believe it’s Roscoe, others have their doubts.

Why is Roanoke Island Inn haunted?

The first postmaster of the island, Roscoe Jones, was fired from his job in the 1930s. Heartbroken, he haunts the hotel, his former home, today.

4. The White Doe of The Outer Banks

While the settlers of the lost colony were never found, their personas live on in the minds of the islanders in Roanoke. Many believe that one of the lost settlers, Virginia Dare, the first-born English person on North American soil, still roams the forested hills of Roanoke Island.

According to legend, she now takes the shape of a mysterious white doe. One that eludes all who seek it. The tale begins after John White’s departure from Roanoke. In 1587, nine days after the birth of his daughter Virginia Dare, he returned to England to find further supplies for his newly founded colony.

After a great delay, White returned to Roanoke Island, coincidentally on Virginia’s birthday, only to find the village was deserted. Many believe that they assimilated with a local tribe and became accustomed to their culture and ways.

The Legend of Virginia Dare

A white doe standing in a beautiful field

Source: Flickr

It is said that Dare was taken under the wing of a Native man named Manteo, after which the main town on the Island was named. Her name was changed to Winona, and she grew to be a beautiful woman.

As such, she began to attract suitors. One was a handsome and loving man named Okisko. The other was a deceptive witch doctor named Chico.

It is said that Chico became jealous, as Winona was more attracted to Okisko. He became so enraged that he put a curse upon poor Winona, turning her into a beautiful white doe.

The white deer was seen gracefully galloping through the local forests for years, evading capture. Then, one day, Okisko sought to reclaim his lost love.

A rival medicine man gave him a magical arrow tipped with an oyster to return the girl to her true form. A great hunt ensued.

But before Okisko could make the final shot, Chico fired a silver-tipped arrow straight through the deer’s heart. Today many hunters claim to see a ghastly white deer, impossible to catch, frolicking through the woods.

They know the tale and assert naysayers that it is the spirit of Virginia Dare.

Who is the Legendary White Doe of Roanoke Island?

It is believed to be the spirit of one of the lost colonists. Involved in a tangled love interest among the natives, Virginia Dare was turned into a beautiful white deer. The deer still roams the island today.

5. The Ghost Ship of The Outer Banks, Carroll A. Deering

A ship is seen in the distance

Source: Flickr

The 115 settlers of the colony of Roanoke may be the most well-known disappearing act in the Outer Banks, but they are far from the only one. One of the strangest things to happen to the sleepy island chain since the winter days of 1587 occurred in January of 1921.

On the 31st, local Cape Hatteras C.P Brady spotted a five-masted schooner wrecked on the sandbars of the Diamond Shoals.

But this was no normal shipwreck.


Leading the Growing Fleet of Ghost Ships

As Brady and his crew got closer, they noticed something strange. There were no people aboard, living or otherwise. The sails were set, and food had been left where it was served completely untouched. Everything seemed totally normal, but no signs of the crew were found.

The schooner had been spotted several days earlier by both the light keeper at the Cape Lookout Lightship and the SS Lake Elon. The lightship reported that a crew member who did not look or act like an officer reported that the ship had no anchors, which would prove to be true.

Another ship, the SS Hewitt, also disappeared around the same time.

Additionally, The Hewitt was en route to Portland, Maine, from Sabine, Texas, taking a similar path to the Deering, which was traveling from Barbados to Norfolk, Virginia. Even stranger, three years earlier, the USS Cyclops disappeared, taking the same route.

So where did they go?

Many suggested pirates. But if it were a case of piracy, that does explain the lack of evidence abroad the ship or the uneaten food left out.

Many believe the Deering and the other downed ships were victims of The Bermuda Triangle, a mysterious area between the Caribbean, the small Island of Bermuda, and the eastern coast of the U.S.

To this day, people and vessels go missing traveling through that area. The crew of the Deering is now forever lost to time.

What is the ghost ship of the Outer Banks?

The ghost ship of the outer banks was the Carroll A. Deering, which mysteriously disappeared in 1921. It is believed it was lost to the mysterious dangers of the  Bermuda Triangle.

6. The Flaming Ship Ocracoke

While the legend of the Deering merely hinted at piracy, the activity was common throughout the Outer Banks since the colonial period. Another legend speaks to this vile deed of sea-faring violence, the legend of the flaming ship of Ocracoke.

It began in England back in 1689 when the country was experiencing a series of changes. Europe was engulfed in various religious wars, and in 1689 the consequences came right to England’s doorstep.

Because of England’s alliance with the Palatine States (modern-day Germany and Switzerland) and William of Orange’s ascent to the throne, the country was flooded with a wave of German immigrants. The immigrants were skilled and wealthy merchants, and with their numbers and skills, competition rose, and prices for skilled labor plummeted.

To alleviate this problem, a Swiss baron, Cristoph von Graffnreid, proposed sending this wealthy middle class to the new world. To an area in the Carolina colonies known as New Berne.

A Plan of Greed Goes Up in Flames

Graffnreid was a greedy man and saw the massive amount of wealth aboard the ship. Along the sea voyage, he devised a plan to obtain this large cache of jewels and gold.

As soon as the ship was in sight of the Outer Banks, he and his crew proceeded to slit the throats of every passenger on board. Grabbing their loot, they headed out in a small row boat with the intention of taking refuge.

To cover his crime, he covered the ship in oil and burned it before rowing to safety. As the greedy baron turned back to admire his work, he saw that the ship was coming right at them as though someone was steering it.

He knew this to be impossible as they had killed everyone aboard. He and his crew paddled as hard as they could, but the flaming ship overtook them, sending them to the same fate as the passengers.

They say that if you look off the coast of Ocracoke in September, you will see the great flaming ship sailing in the distance.

What is the Flaming Ship of the Ocracoke?

A ship that was burned down by a greedy captain in the early 1700s. He took the wealthy passengers’ belongings and then proceeded to burn the ship. The ship, as if possessed, charged into his rowboat. It can be seen on certain nights in September.

7. Teach’s Hole and Blackbeard’s Ghost

The history of piracy in the Outer Banks dates back to the time of the first colony in Roanoke. As early as 1585, men were sent here by the British crown to rob the ships of the Spanish Armada.

These government-sanctioned pirates were called privateers. By the late 1600s, the freelance pirates we think of today began to appear along the North Carolina coast.

The Outer Banks, with its many sandbars, coves, and islands, became the perfect hiding place for these men and women. The sandbars that peppered the shallow sea of the Outer Banks were difficult for larger ships to navigate through.

Many pirates, including Stede Bonnet and the infamous Blackbeard, used this to their advantage. In fact, much of the area became a refuge for these oceanic outlaws.

Trade was not as developed in North Carolina as it was in South Carolina, and the colonists welcomed pirates with open arms as they brought much-needed money and business.

Legendary Pirates of the Outer Banks

Many pirates walked freely among the townspeople of the Outer Banks and eventually called the island chain home. Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard, was among them.

He particularly liked the southern island of Ocracoke, with its many coves and caves. However, the island would also prove to be a watery grave for the famous pirate.

Blackbeard and his crew were defeated here by Captain John Maynard, shooting him five times and stabbing him over twenty. His head was cut off and placed upon the bow of Maynard’s ship.

Legends say his body floated around the ship three times before sinking off the coast of Ocracoke. Many have claimed to see Blackbeard’s spirit on the coast searching for his head.

An unusual and painful groan is often heard, and strange lights illuminate the shallow waters. There are whispers of treasures buried on the coast and in the deeper water.

Yet none of these riches ever been found.

Why is Teach’s Hole haunted?

After years of spreading misery and violence, Blackbeard’s reign of terror ended when Captain John Maynard killed the infamous pirate. The horror that transpired that day continues to be resurrected, terrifying those unlucky enough to witness it.

8. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse

In the town of Corolla, a small village situated in the northernmost part of the Outer Banks, there is a room.

This room is unlike any other.

You see, this room has taken the lives of all who have spent the night within its walls.

It is referred to as the North Room and is part of the Keepers’ Dwelling, a residency for those tending to the historic Currituck Beach Lighthouse. The building and lighthouse were both built in 1875 in order to keep ships from becoming another victim to the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

It was the last major lighthouse built in North Carolina. Those bestowed with the duties to keep seafaring passengers safe did so with pride.

But few who did would ever sleep in the North Room. It is said that anyone who did would fall gravely ill, often dying. It started with a little girl named Sadie. She was part of the first family to tend to the great light.

The Room

One day, Sadie wandered down to the beach and was swept out to sea. Her body was found washed up ashore the next day. Soon after, the family and others began to see her spirit playing around the dwelling and lighthouse.

As time passed, family and friends would visit to console the grieving family.

One woman slept in the North Room on her visit. She took ill and passed away a few days later.

The last family to reside in the Dwelling would suffer a similar fate. The wife of the light keeper slept in the North Room after contracting tuberculosis.

In her quarantine, she passed in the North Room. Since then, no one has slept in the cursed room. While this may be a strange coincidence, it brings a shiver down the spine.

Why is the Currituck Beach Lighthouse haunted?

The north room of the lighthouse keeper’s house is said to be cursed. All those who stay in the room die tragically. Their spirits haunt the lighthouse and the house.

Ghosts of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse

  • Sadie
  • Passengers from an unearthed 200-year-old shipwreck

9. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Ghost Cat

A representation of the ghost cat that lives at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Source: Flickr

Lighthouses are commonplace along the North Carolina coast. The treacherous weather, sandbars, and volatile currents are the cause of the over known 600 shipwrecks in the area.

And, of course, they’re the cause of the unknown wrecks as well.

To protect them, many lighthouses were built throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. None are more famous and majestic than the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Originally built in 1803 out of sandstone, it stood at a height of 90 feet, increased to 150 feet in 1854. During the Civil War, the original lighthouse was replaced by the one we see today, which now stands at 210 feet, making it the tallest lighthouse in the United States.

Its light, powered by two 1100-watt light bulbs, has a range of twenty miles and keeps ships safe from the deadly “Diamond Shoals” just off the coast. It consists of 254 steps and can be visited by the public.

Since the 1930s, it has moved further inland on several occasions due to an eroding coastline. The most recent was in 1999, when it was moved half a mile inland to its current location.

Otherworldly Guests of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

The iconic bright lighthouse, decorated with black and white stripes, has been featured in art and photography all across the country. Visitors come from far and wide to painfully walk up the 254 steps in order to enjoy the breathtaking view from above.

Along the way, some are greeted by a large black and white cat.

Not thinking much of it, they bend down to pet their new feline friend, only to discover that it is no longer there. This familiar feline has been guarding the lighthouse for some 150 years as sightings go back to the 19th century.

If it likes you enough, it will rub against your leg. Many have felt it as if it was actually there. Some are lucky enough to pet it.

But those who attempt to pick it up find that it disappears. It is good to know that cats are still cats, even in the afterlife.

Why is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse haunted?

Shipwrecks were all too common, with hundreds being killed and washed ashore with the wreckage. From people to animals, no one was safe from the treacherous waters that claimed so many.

10. Black Pelican Restaurant

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. A town where the early 20th century saw mankind learn to fly.

Today the Wright Brothers National Aviation Museum brings thousands of visitors a year to its beautiful shores. And The Black Pelican serves as their preferred restaurant, offering fresh seafood from the area and around the world.

The building was first built in 1874 and operated as a lifesaving station. Lifesaving station #6, in fact. They often rescued boats and their crews who became stranded in the sandbars off the coast.

It is said that a valiant Black Pelican aided the six-man crew in their rescue efforts. It even stood guard over a downed Greek ship in 1927 amidst a brutal storm.

Further, this building was also used as a weather bureau. As such, the Wright brothers often gathered information from it to conduct their flight experiments.

After the first successful flight in 1903, they telegrammed an announcement directly from this building.

Trouble at The Black Pelican

Yet despite the bravery and ingenuity, there still lies turmoil in The Black Pelican. In 1884 there was a new station keeper appointed to the lifesaving station.

James Hobbs got the job and pursued his job with great diligence. Another man by the name of T.L. Daniels grew envious of his position.

One day Daniels falsely reported to the local authorities that Hobbs was using government pain to adorn the exterior of his personal boat as well as using station labor to upkeep his farm.

On July 7th, 1884, a police officer came to investigate. It ended with both Hobbs and Daniels holding each other at gunpoint.

Daniels met a cold end by Hobbs’ shotgun.

It is said his body was taken out to sea, but in the Daniels Cemetery in Wanchese, there is a tombstone marked with his name on it.

Some say they have seen the apparition of a man in odd clothing wandering the restaurant. Bottles and plates are known to fly off tables, and blood is seen on the walls.

Why is the Black Pelican Restaurant haunted?

A gunfight occurred here in 1884 after false accusations were made against a local station keeper from another. The mele would end in bloodshed on these very grounds.

The Outer Banks remain a land of mystery. Mysterious disappearances, shipwrecks, and the violence of pirates continue to haunt this magnificent coastline.

The colony of Roanoke may forever be a mystery, but locals believe they are still there today. Their spirits roam the forests and hills, far away from the beach towns and seaside resorts.

The old pirate ships are gone, too, but it doesn’t stop them from continuing on in the afterlife. The search continues for these buried treasures of wayward lore.

To find out more exciting tales of spiritual adventures, continue reading on with US Ghost Adventures!