January 15, 2020
Do you enjoy tales of the supernatural and learning about myths? The Smoky Mountains are full of ghost stories, legends, and myths. We want to share some of these unique stories with you! Here are 5 legends and myths from the Smoky Mountains you should know:
If you’ve ever wondered if there was gold found in the Smoky Mountains, you may believe the story of Perry Shults and the lost Smoky Mountains gold mine. Somewhere in upper Greenbrier Cove near Webb Creek during the time of the Civil War, Shults discovered a shallow streak of pure gold on the ground. In 1867, Shults got a corporate charter from the Tennessee government to mine in this area. What is interesting about this charter is it was licensed for mining silver, lead, copper, and zinc. In 1967, a man named Walt Rice purchased Shults’ home and found a clay pot in the garden filled with gold and silver coins valued at $37,000. This caused treasure hunters to look for the mine, but to this day, a gold mine in the Greenbrier area has never been discovered.
The Greenbrier Restaurant is home to one of the most famous ghost stories in the Smoky Mountains. Shortly after opening in 1939, a woman named Lydia who was living at the Greenbrier Lodge was dressed and ready to marry her fiance. Apparently he left her at the altar. A devastated Lydia ran back to the lodge and hung herself in her wedding dress from the rafters. Days after she hung herself, Lydia’s fiance was found mauled to death by what they assumed was a large cat. Legend has it that Lydia came back as a large cat to get her revenge and kill her fiance.
The legend of Spearfinger is one of the oldest in the Smoky Mountains. Her Cherokee name was U’tlun’ta, which translates to “she had it sharp.” This witch apparently had a spear-like finger on her right hand. She used this finger to cut her victims, and people say her mouth was stained with the blood from livers she ate from her victims. Her skin was made of stone, and she kept her heart in her right hand, which was her only weak spot. The Cherokee came together in a council to figure out how to kill Spearfinger. They dug a pit and filled it with stakes, then set a fire to draw her out. Spearfinger saw the fires and ran to where the men were. Spearfinger was also known for shapeshifting, and she appeared to the men as an old woman asking for help. The men saw through the rouse, and Spearfinger ran towards them but fell in the pit. Her stone skin broke the stakes in the bottom of the pit. The men fired arrows at her, but they did nothing. Birds, mice, and many other creatures came down to try to help kill Spearfinger. A chickadee landed on Spearfinger’s right hand, and she began to tremble, afraid the men had discovered where she hid her heart. The men noticed the chickadee and began aiming for her right hand. An arrow hit her wrist, separating her heart from her body. She sank to the ground, her spearfinger twitching, and then she collapsed into a heap of stones.
A rumor many people have heard about the Smoky Mountains is the smoke on the mountains is from a fog machine. This is just a myth! The fogginess comes from the vegetation in the mountains. In addition to oxygen, plants exhale volatile organic compounds. A high concentration of these volatile organic compounds can cause fog. The Smokies are home to millions of trees, bushes, and other plants that release these compounds, creating the “smokey” look.
You may have heard somewhere that the national park “lets out” the black bears every day. This is also a myth! People assume the bears are released because of all the bear sightings near people. The Smoky Mountains are home to over 1,500 black bears, and they can become used to being around people, making them less scared to go near areas with large concentrations of people. If you do see a black bear on vacation, consider yourself lucky because it happened by chance!
We hope you enjoyed these ghost stories, legends, and myths about the Smoky Mountains! Ready to plan your next trip? Look through our Smoky Mountains cabins and book one today!