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Cora Mae Basnight Bridge



The Gray Man has appeared in North Carolina lore since the early 1900s. It is said he appears before disastrous storms, attempting to warn townfolks of the oncoming destruction. The Cora Mae Basnight Bridge, or Manteo Bridge, is one of many places where this spirit has appeared. 

 

His territory spans as far south as Pawley Island in South Carolina, to Cape Hatteras, to the mysterious home of the lost colony. But he is not the only spirit wandering around this beloved bridge. Tour guides, such as the one you may find yourself with on a US Ghost Adventures tour, have documented strange occurrences. 

 

The Cora Mae Basnight Bridge, named after a famous local actress, is a gateway into the unknown. It reaches out across the water just as the spirits reach out to the living. 

 

Explore Roanoke Island’s mysteries with US Ghost Adventures! Take the #1 ghost tour in Manteo on your next visit!

 

The Legend of The Gray Man

 

Some people’s bodies are innately in tune with the world around them. Their bones ache when a strong storm moves in, and an uneasy feeling falls upon them. The Grey Man of the Outer Banks embodies this “sixth sense” in the afterlife. 

 

Whether he is the ghost of a particular person, a spirit of wind and rain, or just a figment of our imagination is unknown. What is known is he only appears before large storm systems wreak havoc on the small island towns of the Outer Banks. A fact that has been made all too apparent over the past century, especially in the past decade. 

 

Video evidence in 2018 brought the Grey Man to the internet when he was captured on film during Hurricane Florence. But, stories of the mysterious apparition date back to the early 1900s. 

 

Who is the Gray Man?

 

There are several theories on the identity of the Grey Man, but no one is certain of his story. He has been spotted as far south as Pawley Island in South Carolina but often congregates around the Outer Banks area. Cape Hatteras has met the Grey Man, Kitty Hawk is where the video was recorded, and Manteo has had its fair of Grey Man appearances. 

 

While these reports of the Grey Man make him more tangible, they make his true identity harder to determine. Some believe he is the spirit of the founder of Pawley Island, George Pawley, due to his most recent appearance there. 

 

Others say he is the spirit of the pirate Blackbeard, sailing between the islands of the Outer Banks, hoping the storm may reveal his lost treasure. Locals believe he may be a sailor, forever lost at sea.



 

The Gray Man Carriage Ride

 

Manteo’s most popular and commonly accepted story is about love and loss during a storm. Despite a raucous storm, a groom was headed to the local church to wed his bride. During the carriage ride over, he and his driver slid off the road after the storm worsened.

 

Both died in the awful accident and now appear as the Grey Man to warn others not to repeat their dreadful fate. 

 

The Cora Mae Basnight Bridge

 

The Cora Mae Basnight Bridge was dedicated in 1984 to honor Roanoke’s 400th anniversary. It was dedicated in honor of Cora Mae Basnight, a local actress and native of Manteo. She holds the record in American Theatre for acting as the same character for the longest. 

 

Cora played “Agona” in the play Lost Colony, which was based on the lost colony of Roanoke that mysteriously disappeared in 1857. It was written in 1937 and became a massive hit in the Outer Banks and the mainland. 

 

Basnight played “Agona” for 27 years, from 1957 until 1984, the same year the bridge was dedicated. It leads to the Roanoke Island Festival Park, where the play is performed. 

 

The Ghost Child of The Cora Mae Basnight Bridge

 

A local tradition emerged soon after the bridge was opened. Children and teenagers would dare each other to jump off the narrow bridge into the shallow waters below. This fifteen or twenty-foot drop became a danger, and local authorities did their best to stop thrill-seeking adolescents from risking their lives. 

 

This right of passage continues, with adults even joining in! Most jumps are during the day when the sun is out. But something is uneasy about the small bridge late at night. There have been reports of a ghost child running around underneath the bridge. 

 

While leading a tour one evening, a guide noticed a woman commanding her child to calm down and rejoin the group. The young boy was too busy playing with what he called an “imaginary friend.” The tour guide offered to take a photo of the two to calm them down. 

 

When the mother took a look, she was shocked at what she saw! Next to her son was the blurry apparition of a small child! Could it be the spirit of an overconfident bridge jumper? 

 

The Haunted Outer Banks

 

The ghost child is a sure sign that the Cora Mae Basnight Bridge is as haunted as the locals say. The Grey Man, whether pirate, sailor, or heartbroken groom, is just one of the many legends wandering through the waters of the Outer Banks!

 

Take a ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures through the streets of Manteo to hear them all! Our experienced tour guides show you every nook and cranny of the old island town. 

 

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, or read our blog for more constantly updated spooky content!

 

Sources:

 

https://www.outerbanksvoice.com/2020/04/03/icons-of-the-outer-banks-cora-mae-basnight/

 

https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nc/charlotte/weather/2021/07/20/have-you-seen-the-gray-man-of-the-outer-banks-

 

https://www.outerbanksvoice.com/2018/10/31/gray-man-ghost-caught-on-camera-at-avalon-pier/

 

https://outerbankscoastallife.com/off-the-beaten-path/

 

https://www.outerbanksvoice.com/2023/06/11/an-enduring-rite-of-passage-in-manteo/

 

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6353385/cora-mae-basnight

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