Asked: Your true local ghost stories

Riverside Cemetery | Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

From the Grove Park Inn’s Pink Lady to Helen of Helen’s Bridge, Asheville + WNC have their fair share of famous ghosts (check out a few of our favorites here)

With all that local spooky lore floating around us, we figured that some of youour loyal readers – would have your own otherworldly experiences with things that go bump in the night, right here in Asheville and our surrounding mountains. I (Editor Ali) was inspired by one of my fave Halloween podcasts, Spooked, which features true tales of hauntings told by the people who experienced them.

So we asked you to share your spookiest and most inexplicable local encounters with us. Then, we picked our favorites. Now, we’re sharing them with you.

The mist – and the chainsaw

Submitted by Diana K. 

We were driving down Riverside Dr. on a Sunday night in May at around 10 p.m. In unison, we both quietly exclaimed, “Whoa.” My boyfriend asked, “You saw that too?” I replied, “Yes! That was weird.”

He started describing what he had seen. “That weird funnel of mist in the street with the leaves swirling around – I’ve never seen anything like that.”

“Oh, I did see some leaves in the road,” I responded, “but I was talking about the woman with the chainsaw.” I had seen a middle-aged woman with wavy hair, wearing shorts and a pink tank top, holding a chainsaw, walking along the side of the road. Quite an odd sight for 10 p.m. on Riverside. He had no idea what I was talking about

We kept driving for maybe a minute before deciding we had to turn around and go back. There was no lady with a chainsaw anywhere to be seen and no more mist in the street. There was still a small cluster of leaves lying motionless in the road where we had each seen our separate, but seemingly related, strange sights.

Who’s on the stairs?

Submitted by Gwen S.

When my girlfriend and I first moved to Asheville 22 years ago, we lived in a little home within two houses from the Grove Park Inn. The house was built in the 1920s by an old man and had a creek running through the backyard. One day my girlfriend was home alone and heard heavy footsteps coming from the basement, which had a dirt floor and an old dump pump

She was really creeped out and couldn’t wait for my return. She is not the type to be disturbed, but she was. Our basement had old small windows that were painted shut. They let very little light in. We checked these windows after the incident, and they were all closed. A few days later, I was home alone, and was awakened by four distinct heavy footsteps on the basement stairs. My girlfriend was working the nightshift and it was around 2:30 a.m. when it happened. 

Shortly after the footsteps, a motion sensor light went off in our yard. After checking to make sure all the doors and windows were locked, I sat up in the bed and waited for her return. No other events occurred. When she arrived home, I told her about the four footsteps. She said that this was the exact number of steps that she had heard. After a year, we moved out without further incident. Later, the house burned down. Nothing was ever built on that ground.

The ghosts of Highland Hospital

Submitted by Erica D. 

I was working in an old building in Montford one day. While on the second floor, I was about halfway up a flight of stairs with my back turned to the bottom. There’s a door that splits the stairs in half so you can’t see all the way up. Mind you, I’m the only person on this floor right now. Alone. Next thing I know, the hairs on my neck are standing up and I hear someone run up the steps behind me and FAST. So I quickly turn around – and no one is there. Just me. 

I found out later that Mrs. Zelda Fitzgerald had died on the second floor of Highland Hospital due to a fire and this building was built on top of that same land. Not only that, but the elevator lights weren’t working. When I went to the basement, I was compelled to utter the phrase, “Wow, a lot of people are down here.” It just came out of my mouth. I was by myself. No one else was down there. 

A visitation at Helen’s Bridge

Submitted by Gabby B.

This happened to me in 2015, when I was 16 years old. It was one of my friend’s birthdays, and we were hanging out in Asheville doing a mixture of touristy things and local things we’d never gotten around to. My friend’s aunt was driving us around, and we decided to go to Helen’s Bridge. None of us had ever been, but it was dark and cold and a spooky night so it felt like a good time to go. 

When we got there, one of our friends refused to get out of the car, so the rest of us started goofing off calling for Helen to freak her out. I was calling her name and walking under the bridge when I looked up. From where I was standing, I could see the silhouette of a woman with long hair looking down at me. I sort of froze up, but not wanting to scare the others I just walked back to the car. Later that night I told my friend what I’d seen. As far as we could tell, we were the only people out there, so I guess Helen heard us calling for her. – Gabby B. 

Even scarier than a bad roommate

Submitted by Amber A.

My story takes place in one of the older dorms on the UNC Asheville campus. Shortly after moving in my freshman year, my roommate at the time and I began to notice strange things happening in our dorm. It was just little things at first – items moving, strange noises, etc. But the longer we ignored it, the more prominent it became.

We both slept with our beds lofted, and often during the night I woke up to the feeling of my bed shaking as if someone were climbing up the steps to get in. When I asked my roommate about it, thinking she was maybe messing with me, she was shocked and said she had been experiencing the same thing

Not long after that, we both began to hear walking in our dorm at night – as if someone were just pacing back and forth in the space between our beds. We tried to ignore it until one night my roommate heard the walking again and rolled over to check it out. She saw what she at first thought was me, standing in the middle of our room. But after a moment, she looked over to my bed and realized I was sound asleep

She then watched as the female apparition walked right in between our beds and disappeared into a wall. The next morning she told me all about it, and I couldn’t believe it! As if seeing an apparition weren’t enough, a couple of days later I was sitting on our couch when I heard a MASSIVE crash from the bathroom. I ran into the bathroom, thinking someone must have been home (unbeknownst to me) and fallen. When I opened the bathroom door, all of our bathroom caddies (which sat on individual shelves) had been thrown across the bathroom. Not long after that, we brought a bottle of holy water into our dorm to see what might happen… and the dorm remained quiet the rest of the time we lived there. 

The ghost of Biltmore past

Submitted by Sarah P. 

Last week, my son, daughter, and I were walking on a trail at Biltmore that runs along the road and river. It was near dusk when we saw a woman dressed in old-fashioned clothing who was hunched over and working with the plants. It was getting dark, and we joked that she must be a ghost. We wondered why she would be messing with the plants so close to dark and why was she dressed like that. There were no parked cars and no parking lot nearby. Suddenly, she vanished. It was so spooky!! We looked all around for her and couldn’t see her anywhere

Penny for your thoughts?

Submitted by Karen G. 

When I moved to Asheville, I went to work at The Mountaineer Inn as a housekeeper. This historic hotel has been rumored to have paranormal activity for many years, and people I worked with said they’d had several experiences. I had some personal experiences myself, but the one I want to share with you was particularly creepy

I was finishing my last room of the day. I checked that all the appliances and lights were off, and then closed and locked the door. About five minutes later, I heard something and realized that the TV was on full blast. I hurriedly turned it off for fear of disturbing other guests and then saw a small trash can had been moved to the middle of the room. I was like, “What the h*** is going on!?”

I bent over to grab the small trash can and move it back under the vanity when I realized something very odd. There were now brand new shiny copper pennies strewn all over the floor. I had just vacuumed that floor! Needless to say, I ran out of that room, heart pounding and screaming hysterically

I ran straight to the office and reported what had happened. The office manager tried her best to calm me down. She then said this: “Yes, these things happen from time to time. It’s just a sweet little ghost lady that’s been here for years. She doesn’t mean you any harm! The pennies are actually a gift from her.” 

“I don’t want them!” I replied. Someone else had to go back and pick up those pennies. I continued to work there but always had a partner with me when I cleaned that room again. Other things happened to me but I tried not to panic and keep it in perspective. I no longer work there but I wonder if The Little Ghost Lady is still there. If she is, I’m sure she’s still giving gifts to the housekeepers! 

Inside the cemetery gates

Submitted by Editor Ali

A friend of mine had just moved to town, and one afternoon I was driving her around to see some of my favorite local landmarks. I decided to take her to Riverside Cemetery (on Birch St. in Montford) to show her the graves of O. Henry, Thomas Wolfe, and other locally-known luminaries

We arrived at the cemetery and drove through the gates. It was a beautiful, sunny day, without a cloud in the sky. As I drove and pointed out the sites, I started to feel strange, like I was suddenly getting a migraine or severe sinus headache. There was a buzzing sensation in my head, and a sense of pressure was building, almost like my skull was being squeezed.

I tried to ignore the feeling and press on – I get lots of headaches and it wasn’t horrible yet, and I’d been looking forward to showing her around the graveyard, where we’d also planned to stop and picnic. As the minutes passed, the sensation got stranger and more intense, and I realized I needed to let her know I was starting to feel like I shouldn’t be driving.

Out of nowhere, she turned to me and said, “Hey, I’m feeling really bad. I feel a terrible pressure in my head, like I’m about to get a horrible headache, and it feels like I’m being squeezed. I’m so sorry, but I think we have to stop and go home.” 

I was amazed and told her that I was feeling exactly the same thing. We were shocked, and while we’re both logical people, we couldn’t help but wonder if it was connected to the cemetery. We decided to leave. After just a few minutes parked outside of the gates, the feeling passed for both of us. 

We looked up the weather and there was no high pressure system that day, and not even a rainstorm the sky was sunny and clear the entire day. We’ve also never been able to find a medical explanation for what we were feeling, or why we both felt it so strongly. We also knew that we hadn’t somehow suggested the feeling to one another – we’d both felt it independently. We still talk about the experience as one of the strangest we’ve ever had.  

Want even more ghosts? Check out this post to meet some of Asheville’s most famous spirits + the places they haunt. And, be sure to pass this on to your scare-seeking friends by clicking the buttons below.