The Nolichucky River flows about 150 miles, from the North Carolina Mountains to the French Broad River in East Tennessee. The river was considered sacred by the Cherokee Indians--a living, breathing ribbon of water that possessed a life of its own. Spirits were said to live in its depths and terrible monsters would rise up and devour entire hunting parties. Today, the river continues its reputation as a haunted place. The Nolichucky is filled with treacherous currents, murderous undertows, and unexpected holes. Still, people insist on swimming in the river and every year some are drowned. The spirits of people killed by the river are sometimes seen rising from the water or walking its banks.

Ghostly Fisherman

One story tells of a fisherman who, in the early 1980s, waded in too far and was drowned near the point where the Nolichucky empties into the French Broad River. Soon after the tragedy the ghost of a man was often seen rising from the water, and walking across it to the bank. As soon as it reached dry land, the specter would disappear and, then, reappear in the middle of the river again. Then it would once again walk across to river to the shore and disappear. Those who have seen the ghost say that the apparition glows with a misty white light, the face is indistinct, but it is clearly carrying a fishing rod and creel.


Tales are told of the Devil's Looking Glass, a sheer rock wall rising hundreds of feet over the Nolichucky River in Unicoi County, Tennessee. One story concerns an Indian woman who, having lost her beloved husband in battle, flung herself off the precipice in a fit on anguish. Her ghost is said the haunt the base of the cliff. Another story is that in a cave, about halfway up the face, there lives a horrible demon who lies in wait to pounce upon a passing canoe. In fact, some stories have every nook and cranny bulging with evil spirits of endless variety. Since the Nolichucky River was a main "highway" for the Cherokee Indians, it was no wonder that the Looking Glass was passed in great haste whenever possible.

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