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Boo! North Carolina Ghost Stories and Spooky Legends Online and In Print

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Boo! North Carolina Ghost Stories and Spooky Legends Online and In Print

Eternal Hoofprints or the Devil's Horse's Hoofprints. Image from the 1927 "North Carolina Today." From the North Carolina Dept. of Conservation and Development.

Eternal Hoofprints or the Devil’s Horse’s Hoofprints. Image from the 1937 “North Carolina Today.” From the North Carolina Dept. of Conservation and Development.

It’s that time of year again — Halloween.  And North Carolina has more than a few legends to raise your hair and give you a cold chill.  Some of North Carolina’s reportedly haunted places are the subject of legendary sightings of supernatural phenomenon; others are sites where real-life tragedies have occurred and have become woven into the fabric of local legend.

Visit NCpedia to read about a handful of the most well-known of the state’s spooky stories and haunted places. The Ghost Train of Bostian’s Bridge, the Eternal Hoofprints and the Devil’s Tramping Ground, in particular, might give you decent shiver!

The Ghost Train of Bostian’s Bridge — train wreck in 1891 in Statesville, a legendary re-sighting in 1941, with a new event in 2010.

The Maco Light —  from the fatal train wreck in Brunswick County in 1867 and siting of the lights by a U.S. president.

The Devil’s Horse’s Hoof Prints — ghostly holes in the ground near Bath since 1813.

The Devil’s Tramping Ground — in western Chatham County, an eerie circle in the woods where nothing will grow.

The Brown Mountain Lights — mysterious, unexplained light phenomena on the Burke-Caldwell County line.

And if you’d like to dig a bit deeper, here are a few print volumes with tales of haunted North Carolina:

Tanenbaum, Linda Duck, and Barry McGee. 2002. Ghost tales from the North Carolina Piedmont. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Bandit Books.

Williams, Stephanie Burt. 2003. Ghost stories of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County: remnants of the past in a new South. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Bandit Books.

Russell, Randy, and Janet Barnett. 1988. Mountain ghost stories and curious tales of western North Carolina. Winston-Salem, N.C.: J.F. Blair.

Morgan, Fred T. 1992. Haunted Uwharries: ghost stories, witch tales and other strange happenings from North America’s oldest mountains. Asheboro, N.C.: Down Home Press.

Starbuck, Richard W., and Lu Newman. 2002. Ghosts of Salem and other tales. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Moravian Archives.  

Happy reading and Happy Halloween!

— Kelly Agan, N.C. Government & Heritage Library

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This week in Raleigh, IBMA’s Wide World of Bluegrass Festival: Highlighting North Carolina’s Bluegrass Roots

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This week in Raleigh, IBMA’s Wide World of Bluegrass Fest: Highlighting North Carolina’s Bluegrass Roots

This week Raleigh once again hosts the International Bluegrass Music Association’s “Wide Open World of Bluegrass” festival from September 27 to October 1.  Complementing the ticketed attractions, the festival also has a free street fest in downtown Raleigh along Fayetteville Street on Friday and Saturday — complete with live music, street food, and craft vendors.  If you’re in Raleigh, check it out!

EarlScruggs, San Francisco 2005, by Volker Neumann on Flickr. Used under license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

EarlScruggs, San Francisco 2005, by Volker Neumann on Flickr. Used under license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

It’s a good opportunity to share a snapshot of this deeply rooted, ever-evolving and uniquely American art form along with some resources for more info on North Carolina’s connection.

The origins of the name “Bluegrass” are often associated with the legendary mandolin player Bill Monroe, native Kentuckian who named his band the “Blue Grass Boys” for his home state in the late 1930s.  The term “bluegrass”, however, appears not to have been applied to the developing form until well into the 1940s or 1950s. The roots of the genre itself are old and wide, originating from a deep and complex mix:  the folk music and dance forms of Appalachia brought to North America by European immigrants beginning in the 17th century (especially from the British Isles); traditional music brought from Africa and handed down in the African American traditions of gospel and blues; and particularly in the innovative, front and center use of the banjo which came to colonial America from Africa.

North Carolina’s own Earl Scruggs is credited with developing Bluegrass’s emphasis on the banjo played in a unique style.  Born in Shelby in Cleveland County, Scruggs utilized a three-finger roll or crawl style that helps give Bluegrass its bright sound and drives its forward momentum and energy.  Scruggs played with Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys for a time, then formed his own band the Foggy Mountain Boys, and later teamed up as a duo with Foggy Mountain’s guitarist Lester Flatt.  And for a time Flatt and Scruggs called Raleigh home.  So, little wonder that Raleigh now finds itself home to this annual festival.

Want to learn more?  Visit these resources:

Listen to some Flatt and Scruggs from the archives:  visit Archive.org for a sampling of recordings available

NCpedia Resources on North Carolina music traditions and festivals:

 

— Kelly Agan, North Carolina Government & Heritage Library

Celebrating National Aviation Week: Take a Short-Hop over to NCpedia for North Carolina’s Aviation Firsts

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Celebrating National Aviation Week: Take a Short-Hop over to NCpedia for North Carolina’s Aviation Firsts

This week is National Aviation Week, built around Friday’s upcoming National Aviation Day, first proclaimed in 1939 by President Franklin Roosevelt.  Roosevelt issued the proclamation to designate the holiday to coincide with the anniversary of Orville Wright‘s birth on August 19, 1871.

And although the Wrights’ epic flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903 gave the state one of its most memorable mottos — First in Flight — there are even more flight “firsts” that contribute to that distinction.

Photograph of Belvin Maynard, William Kline, and Trixie

Photograph of Belvin Maynard – and his dog Trixie – and William Kline, ca. 1910. Republished in NCpedia courtesy of Digital Forsyth.

Here’s just a sampling of some of the “firsts”, and you can find more information by following the links to NCpedia:

  • 1873: Henry Gatling’s hand-cranked monoplane was flown near Murfreesboro; claimed to be the first plane built in the U.S.
  • 1903: The Wrights flew the first manned and powered airplane at Kitty Hawk.
  • 1903: Georgia Ann Thompson — better known as Tiny Broadwick in NCpedia — became the first woman to make a parachute jump from an airplane. Broadwick is also credited with being the first person to make a free-fall descent and for troubleshooting a near-disaster that lead to the invention of the rip-cord.
  • 1907: Luther Paul’s twin-rotor unmanned helicopter the Bumble Bee flew in Carteret County; claimed to be the first helicopter flight in the U.S.
  • 1919: Belvin Maynard, born in Sampson County, set a record for 318 consecutive loops in 67 minutes at an airfield in France. For a time Maynard was known as the “greatest pilot on earth” and has also been credited with performing the first in-flight wedding in 1922 (although this detail has not been proven!).
  • 1928: pioneering aviatrix Louise Marcellus McPhetridge Thaden flew to 20,260 feet, at the time the highest altitude reached by a woman; Thaden and her husband participated in the development of all-metal planes and later resided in High Point where they operated a plastics engineering firm.
  • 1928: The state’s first regular air mail flight by Wheeler Airlines landed at Lindley Field in Greensboro.
  • 1948: North Carolina-born aeronautical engineer Francis Rogallo patented his invention the self-inflating Rogallo Wing which became the basis for foot-launched hang-gliders. (The first glider flown using the wing was developed and made by Californian Barry Palmer in 1961.)
  • 1969: North Carolina’s Warren Hervey Wheeler became the country’s first African American to own a commercial airline, Wheeler Flying Service.
  • 1974: Dare County resident and kite-maker John Harris in NCpedia became the first person to hang glide from the peak of Grandfather Mountain.

(more…)

New @NCpedia: North Carolina Olympians in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame

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Harry Williamson wearing University of North Carolina track warm-ups. Writing on the back of the photograph indicates it was taken three weeks before the try-outs for the 1936 Olympic games. Harry Williamson competed in the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, Germany and was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. Photo appears in NCpedia courtesy of the High Point Historical Society, High Point, NC. Used by permission.

Harry Williamson wearing University of North Carolina track warm-ups. Writing on the back of the photograph indicates it was taken three weeks before the try-outs for the 1936 Olympic games. Harry Williamson competed in the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, Germany and was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. Photo appears in NCpedia courtesy of the High Point Historical Society, High Point, NC. Used by permission.

New @NCpedia: North Carolina Olympians in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame

The spotlight is on the Olympics in Rio this week. And North Carolina has a long history of sending athletes who have ties to the state in one way or another. This year a few dozen athletes with Tar Heel ties are competing.  Check out this recent article from WUNC Radio with links to TeamUSA.org and USAgym.org.

A North Carolinian first competed in the modern Olympics in Berlin, Germany in 1936.  That year, Harry Williamson, a former UNC-Chapel Hill track and field athlete (1932-1936), qualified for the 800 meter sprint, placing 3rd in the trials.  A native of High Point, Williamson won his heat at the Olympics but ended up placing 6th in the Olympic event, although only seconds behind the winner. In 1999, he was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

And speaking of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame:  the SHOF is an affiliate of the North Carolina Museum of History and operates its own museum on the 3rd floor of the Museum in downtown Raleigh.  The space is a trove of North Carolina sports history, trivia, lore and artifacts.  There’s enough there to occupy many visits!  And you can visit their website to peruse a long list of inductees.

NCpedia’s most recent addition comes to us thanks to folks at the SHOF who have put together a list of 31 Tar Heels who have made it to the Olympics and into the Sports Hall of Fame. This list includes both athletes and coaches, including the first inductee into the newly organized SHOF in 1963 — track and field athlete from 1960 Olympics, Jim Beatty — along with the three famed Yow sisters. So, race on over to NCpedia to learn more!

Kelly Agan, North Carolina Government & Heritage Library

 

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