Topsail Tales That Will Send Chills Down Your Spine
*UPDATED OCTOBER 2018
Every area has its local legend, lore—and yes, even ghost stories. Topsail Island is no different. With pirates of the past roaming these waters, centuries old history found along our shoreline, and antiquated relics of days-gone-by, it's not hard to imagine that there are whispers of bumps in the night, mysterious shadowy figures and unexplained sights and sounds to this very day.
They are part history and part tall tale, but however much you believe is up to you. If nothing else, they make for a good storytelling session this time of year. Dim the lights. Light a cozy fire. Gather round with your family and friends. Here are a few Topsail Tales that you may want to get acquainted with. Gather the family around, dim the lights and cozy up in your Topsail beach vacation rental. It's time for some tale telling. Read on, if you dare.
Blackbeard the Pirate's Lost TreasureBlackbeard the Pirate aka Edward Teach aka Edward Thatch aka Edward Drummond was a larger-than-life menace that sailed coastal Carolina and is said to have spent some time in and around Topsail Island itself. While talk of his piratical escapades spans all along the Eastern Seaboard, Blackbeard and his crew of pirates terrorized sailors on the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea from 1716 through 1718. His best known vessel was the Queen Anne's Revenge, which is believed to have run aground near the Beaufort Inlet in North Carolina in 1718.
Blackbeard is said to have met his match when he encountered Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy in Ocracoke. It ended badly for the pirate with his head swinging from the bow of Maynard's sloop. Maynard searched for Blackbeard's treasure but found only supplies and letters. When Blackbeard died, the secret of his treasure died, too. Or did it?
Some say that Blackbeard gifted Topsail Island with his greatest possession: his buried treasure. There’s some talk around these parts that in Topsail Beach there is a supposed bottomless hole, which the locals call the Gold Hole. Topsail legend has it that in the mid-1900s, a team of treasure hunters came to Topsail from up north and identified that hole as the hiding place for Blackbeard’s treasure. They spent many weeks in the Gold Hole working into the late hours of the night. But one morning, they were gone without warning. Disappeared. Vanished. It’s as if they had never been on Topsail Island. Some say the Gold Hole is no longer, as the treasure of Blackbeard was found and left on that summer night. But who really knows?
Next time you're in Topsail Beach, you might want to ask around and see if anyone knows anything about this local legend. It wouldn't hurt to do a little digging around yourself to see what you might find.
Ghost Ships Along Topsail Island
Some here on Topsail say if you are boating with your radar on at the southernmost part of the island, you may notice a blip on your radar screen indicating a presence sitting just inside the inlet. You may look back and not see anything there. But as you cruise by, the blip begins to move slowly out of the inlet, coming into the ocean and following right behind you. Tracking your every move. Quickly gaining speed on you. It sounds reminiscent of ol’ Blackbeard himself and what he did well over 300 years ago, doesn't it? Watch your back, mateys!
Want to read more about ghost ship encounters off of Topsail Island's water? Read this.
Haunting of the USS North Carolina Battleship
Not far from Topsail Island (and a great day trip, by the way) is the USS North Carolina in Wilmington, NC. History buffs, visitors—and yes, even ghost hunters—visit the battleship each for their own reasons. But before we get to the ghosts, let's dig in to a little history.
At the time of her commissioning in April of 1941, the USS North Carolina was considered the world’s greatest sea weapon. During World War II, the battleship participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific area of operations and earned 15 battle stars. In all, the Battleship North Carolina carried out nine shore bombardments, sank an enemy troopship, destroyed at least 24 enemy aircraft, and assisted in shooting down many more. By war’s end, the ship lost only ten men in action and had 67 wounded. After serving as a training vessel for midshipmen, the USS North Carolina was decommissioned in June of 1947 and placed in the Inactive Reserve Fleet in Bayonne, New Jersey, for the next 14 years before arriving in her present location in North Carolina in 1961. She was dedicated on April 29, 1962 as the State's memorial to its World War II veterans and the 11,000 North Carolinians who died during the war.
To this day, there are alleged ghost sightings on the USS North Carolina, along with unexplained footsteps, bumps in the night, mysterious creaks, haunting bellows and more. There are stories of a blonde-haired sailor who roams the ship as well as a more fearsome ghost with flames coming off his head. These observances come from the visitors of the battleship themselves all the way to the people who work there, particularly the night watchman who has worked the ship for over 30 years. You can watch him tell of his interesting encounters with the fiery-haired ghost and and decide for yourself what is fact and what is fiction. Check out the video: Is the USS North Carolina Battleship Haunted to hear the firsthand account of the night watchman.
Whether or not you believe in ghosts, you can read more about the fascinating history of the USS North Carolina. And by all means, if you get the chance to visit during your Topsail Island vacation, do so. Let us know if you have any paranormal experiences while you're there.
Do you have any local Topsail legend, lore or ghost stories to share?
We'd love to hear them.