Located off the coast of North Carolina, Cape Hatteras National Seashore sits at the end of the Gulf Stream. It is the nearest landmass to Bermuda at just 563 nautical miles away. So many ships have been lost at Cape Hatteras that it has been given the nickname “The Graveyard of the Atlantic.” The numbers are staggering at over 5,000 lost since 1526 and innumerable lives have been lost.
Many come from all over to enjoy the Cape’s surfing, kiteboarding, scuba diving, beachcombing, and fishing. Tourists interested in history enjoy touring shipwrecks and the Cape’s famous lighthouse. Hatteras Lighthouse is easily recognizable with its black and white candy stripes. Its beacon helps protect one of the most treacherous stretches of outer banks. The beam spans over twenty miles out over the ocean. It is the world’s tallest lighthouse at 208 feet tall. Over 175,000 people travel to Cape Hatteras each year to climb the 257 steps to the top of the lighthouse.
Cape Hatteras’ placement in the Gulf Stream makes it especially dangerous for traveling ships. The massive current of warm water that circles through the Atlantic Ocean is what shaped Cape Hatteras’ distinctive point. It is also the perfect path for destructive and devastating hurricanes. However, Cape Hatteras has one saving grace in the midst of such disaster.
The Gray Man of Hatteras has been seen since the 1900s. He appears as an indistinct shadowy figure who walks the beach when hurricanes are coming. He never speaks or lets anyone approach him. Often seen walking the shadows of the lighthouse, his presence indicates to locals and tourists whether approaching storms will be dangerous or not. Since the 1900s, the Gray Man of Hatteras has never failed to appear and has never been wrong in his quest to warn Cape Hatteras residents of oncoming danger. Rumors say he is the ghost of a sailor who died in a treacherous hurricane, determined to spend his eternity preventing others from following the same fate.
The Gray Man is not the only entity who calls Cape Hatteras home. Residents and visitors often report seeing ghost ships and hearing sounds of drowning, only to find nothing upon closer inspection. The phantom ships and shadow people on the ships or around shore are a common occurrence.
Others report seeing the ghost of Theodosia Burr, daughter of famed Aaron Burr. In December of 1812, her ship was taken by pirates. Everyone onboard was killed. Her ghost is said to walk the shores late at night near the Hatteras Lighthouse.
People are not the only spirits said to wander the shores of Cape Hatteras. Many have spotted a ghost cat in or around the Hatteras Lighthouse for over 150 years. The cat is black and white and about twenty to twenty-five pounds. He rubs against the legs of unknowing strangers, requesting to be pet, but vanishes as soon as anyone tries to pet him or pick him up.
Cape Hatteras has a little something for everyone visiting the beautiful North Carolina coast. Whether in the area for recreation or history, the resident revenants are sure to make any trip a memorable one.