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Here are the most fascinating urban legends of Appalachia

Athens finds itself in Appalachia, a mountain range running along the eastern edge of the continent, separating the seaboard from the interior. They are known to be some of the oldest mountains in the world, ranging from around 400 million to over a billion years old in some parts. However, the ancient age of the mountains blends with the combination of European, African and Native American cultures, which have caused countless urban legends, folktales and ghost stories to manifest throughout the region.

The Brown Mountain Lights

On and around Brown Mountain in North Carolina, deep within the Pisgah National Forest, exists a strange phenomena: mysterious lights. For years, balls of light, ranging from the size of candle flames to massive fireballs have danced around the mountains. No one knows where these lights come from. 

Some have proposed that they are lights from a train in the distance, but even before the tracks ran through that area, the lights were there. Others have proposed that the lights are UFOs. On the other hand, a Cherokee legend states that the lights are the ghosts of Native American women looking for their husbands who died in battle. Despite the numerous theories, ranging from the scientific to the outlandish, there is still no conclusion as to what the lights are. 

The Moon-Eyed People

Another Cherokee legend tells the tale of a race of people that existed long before the tribe moved into the mountains. They were known to be a race of small people with impossibly pale skin and blue eyes. As a result, they were unable to see during the day, and only went out at night in order to do their work. Consequently, the Cherokee nicknamed them “The Moon-Eyed People.” But, the mysterious race disappeared randomly, never to be seen or heard from again. 

Some have speculated that this race was a small group of Europeans who came earlier than many historians originally thought. Others believe that they were descendants of albino members of another tribe. Unfortunately, there is minimal information regarding the identity of the Moon-Eyed People, leaving it simply as an old legend.

Lake Hope Furnace

Located in Ohio’s small section of the Appalachian Mountains is Lake Hope State Park, a park with both natural beauty and historical value, along with an old ghost story. In this park are the remnants of a massive furnace, built to process the iron ore found in the area. In order to maximize productivity, the furnace was left on at night, tended to by watchmen to make sure that nothing happened to anything or anyone near it. 

However, the story goes that somehow, one of the watchmen was killed there. Whether he slipped and fell into the furnace, was startled and fell off the platform or was struck by lightning during a stormy night is up for debate. But, all of the stories share one common detail: that the ghost of the watchman returns on dark, stormy nights to continue his job. 

The Flatwoods Monster

While thinking of Appalachian urban legends, your mind will probably jump to the Mothman. However, the winged creature is not the only one known to haunt the forests of the mountains. In 1952 in the village of Flatwoods, West Virginia, two brothers and their friends saw a mysterious object soar across the sky and land on a nearby farmer’s property. With their mother, the boys went to the farmhouse, and found a 10-foot tall monster with a glowing red face, green body, glowing orange eyes and clawed hands. A heavy mist hung in the air around the creature, causing many members of the group to fall sick in the coming days. 

This was not the first sighting, however, as a sighting was reported by a woman about five miles away not long before. It would not be the last sighting either, as a couple reported a sighting of the creature a day later, one that made their car temporarily break down. While the monster has not been seen since those fateful evenings in 1952, its impact is still visible on the town of Flatwoods today.

The Wampus Cat

The legend of the Wampus Cat comes from a combination of Native American legend and 20th century journalism. The legend goes that a woman witnessed a pre-hunt ritual and hid under a catskin, and was subsequently turned into a half-woman, half-cat creature with six legs, glowing eyes and an appearance similar to a cougar. She gained supernatural abilities through this, and the creature would use these powers to drive victims to insanity. 

It becomes woven into modern storytelling through an article from 1964 in a North Carolina newspaper, in which a mysterious creature similar to a sasquatch was seen wandering a nearby highway. It was nicknamed the ‘Wampus Cat,; permanently merging the two tales into one. 


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