delicious, scary ghost legends. But are they true?  Ghost stories tend
to be told over and over again and changed through the years and
generations until they barely resemble the original tale. There is a
saying, "all legends contain a grain of truth." A good example of a
ghost legend is Helen's Bridge. The legend states that Helen,
distraught over the death of her child in a fire, hung herself from the
bridge. There are no records to verify this suicide or the death of a little
girl in a fire. Part of the legend is the daughter died in a fire at nearby
Zealandia Castle. While Zealandia did have a fire that destroyed one
room, there are no reports of a death in this fire. That is not to say none
of this ever happened. The media years ago was much more censored
than it is today. A suicide would have been covered up. The death of
the child may have been covered up as well since the owners of
Zealandia were very wealthy. Even today the media doesn't make a big
issue out of suicides. A few months ago, there was a suicide at Beaver
Lake in North Asheville. I wouldn't have even known about it except
there was a tiny blurb inside the newspaper.

Another problem with the Helen's Bridge legend is another ghost story
concerning Helen's Mountain in Arden. In that legend, Helen and her
daughter lived in a cabin on the mountain. A man broke into the cabin
to rape Helen. In the struggle, a kerosene lamp was knocked over and
the cabin caught fire. Helen and her daughter died in the fire.
According to legend if  you go to Helen's Mountain and say "Helen
come forth" three times, you are supposed to see flames at the site of
the cabin. You are supposed to also find a burned hand print on your
car. I believe over the years, the two stories have been mixed up and
combined.  The two stories are just too similar. I doubt the name of the
ghost at Helen's Bridge is even named Helen.
So when it comes to ghost legends, stories told for generations, you
have to take them with a grain of salt if the facts can't be verified.

Campfire stories (or urban legends) are stories totally made up to
entertain and scare the listeners. We all heard as kids, the story of the
escaped mental patient with the hook. That's a classic. Some ghost
stories are the same. We do many investigations at Lewis Memorial
Park. The ghost story there is Mr. Lewis, who donated land for the
cemetery, rides around on a ghostly horse. In all our investigations
there, none of us have seen him nor have our sensitives picked up
anything about him or his horse. Nobody I've ever met has seen this
ghost. While the cemetery workers tell this ghost story, none will admit
to ever seeing the ghost. I have a friend who lives around the corner
from the cemetery. While he has heard the story, he doesn't know
anyone who has actually seen Mr. Lewis. This may well be a campfire
story made up years ago by cemetery workers to tell a scary ghost
story. It may have been made up to keep couples from using the
cemetery as a lovers lane. In this day and age, that will definitely
backfire.

Known ghost histories are when there are verifiable facts about events
that happened at a particular location. At Civil War battlefields, we
know what happened at these places so we know the origins of the
ghosts there. If you have a haunted hotel room and it is a verifiable fact
there was a murder or suicide in than room, then we have a known
ghost history. But, these kinds of hauntings can fall prey to ghost
legends. I've stayed in many old hotels where the haunted room ghost
was a jilted bride who committed suicide or a bride who was murdered
on her wedding night by the groom.  Jeeez, just how often did that
happen in the olden days?

The Asheville Massacre of 1906 is a verified event. So this massacre
can explain the ghosts in Barley's Taproom and on Eagle Street. But
maybe not all. There was once a gallows near where Barley's now
stands.

So as ghost hunters, when you hear a ghost story about a particular
place, ask yourself, is it a ghost legend, a campfire story, or are there
verifiable facts to put it in the category of known ghost history?
Ghost Legends, Campfire Stories,
And Known Ghost Histories
By Sarah Harrison