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Cryptic Tales from the South Carolina Coast
The Dismal Swamp
In 1803, the famed poet Thomas Moore wrote about the swamp in his poem “The Lake of the Dismal Swamp.” The poem is based on the legend of the Lady of the Lake which, according to local folklore, is about an Indian maid who died just before her wedding. Moore’s poem tells how her bereaved lover believed she had taken to the swamp, so he followed her there never to return but allegedly reunited with his lover in death.
Locals claim that every once in awhile, the Lady of the Lake’s ghost can be seen paddling across the water in a white canoe.
Every once in awhile, her ghost can allegedly be seen paddling across the lake in a white canoe. Hunter and fishermen have also claimed to see eerie lights in the middle of the night. The strange lights have been attributed to the phenomenon of Foxfire, where a luminous light is given off by the decaying of wood by certain fungi. Is the seemingly paranormal activity explained by science or as locals believe, is something much more sinister at work?
The Story of Jesse Elliot
During the 1800’s, a presumptuous young man known as Jesse Elliot lived in a small, rural riverside community along the coast of South Carolina. Described by others as a “whipper-snapper” and reckless, Jesse enjoyed racing horses, especially on Sundays.
One fall afternoon, Jesse was racing his horse and shouted, “Take me in a winner, or take me to Hell!” Supposedly, the horse dug its hoofs into the ground and in two giant steps, hurled Jesse against a nearby tree, killing him instantly.
Throughout the years, those deep hoof prints have remained despite the best efforts of locals to get rid of them. Many have tried to brush them away or cover them with dirt or leaves but when they return later, the hoof prints are there again.
The North Island Lighthouse Ghost
North Island sits atop the beautiful and scenic Winyah Bay. Back in the 19th century without the technology we have today, furious and severe storms would slam the coast without warning. A thick stone lighthouse was erected along the coast and soon a lighthouse keeper alone with his fair-haired daughter, Annie, came to live there.
Annie and her father would often take their small boat across the Bay to Georgetown for supplies and return before nightfall. One day on their way back from town, the lighthouse keeper noticed a brisk wind and soon dark, ominous clouds rolled in. It began to rain and hail heavily and the tiny boat was tossed about on the rough water before it began to capsize. Desperate, the father tied Annie on his back and tried to swim. Hours later, the lighthouse keeper woke up on shore with his drowned, dead daughter still strapped to his back.
To this day, sailors have reported seeing the apparition of a small, blonde girl appear on their decks during seemingly calm and sunny days pointing towards the bay. Her appearances are always precede vicious and unexpected storms. Legend has it those who fail to heed her warning will soon find themselves facing a watery grave.