7 Top Haunted US Rivers and Lakes You Can Fish In
Daniel Xu 10.28.15
It’s getting to be that time of year again, and what’s Halloween without a good ghost story? We’ve decided to celebrate the holiday by listing the seven of the most haunted rivers and lakes in the US that you can actually fish in. If you’re feeling especially brave, you can even visit these places for yourself—just take care that you don’t add to the local legend while you’re there.
A word of warning, if you’re the nervous type you may not want to continue reading. Nothing’s worse than finding out your favorite fishing hole is part of a gruesome horror story. The last thing you want to do is keep looking over your shoulder every few minutes, looking for a figure in the distance. Perhaps one that is in the water and moving slowly towards you.
Big Moose Lake—New York
In the remote reaches of upstate New York, Big Moose Lake remains wild and a source of endless speculation. Visitors to the lake bring back tales of its beauty and the abundance bass of there, but few stay past sunset. Visitors who do stay recall the ghost of a woman near the water’s edge, perpetually drowning and calling out for help. While the ghost may or may not be real, the lake was the location of a widely reported murder in 1906, when a young, pregnant factory worker was drowned in the lake by her lover.
The victim was 20-year-old Grace Brown. She was lured out to the lake by Chester Gillete, who is believed to be the father of her unborn child. While rowing across the lake, Gillete struck Brown unconscious with a tennis racket and then tossed her body overboard. He may have planned out the murder in meticulous detail, but Gillete was a horrible liar. He later told investigators that she simply got up and decided to drown herself without any other explanation. Unsurprisingly, detectives quickly saw through his lie.
Geillete was later found guilty of Brown’s murder and executed by electrocution.
What is ironic is that the lake’s haunted status has made it something of a tourist attraction. Some daring visitors now come to the lake hoping to get a glimpse of the Brown’s elusive ghost.
Tombigbee River—Mississippi and Alabama
There are few rivers in the US more ominous for anglers than the Tombigbee River. According to locals, when the light is dim or the weather especially cold, the ghost ship Eliza Battle stalks the waters. Seeing the ship is a very bad omen indeed for the Eliza is said to warn of impending disaster. The steamboat itself was destroyed during a fire on the river in 1858, killing 33 people and injuring countless more among its passengers and crew. It is considered the deadliest accident to have ever taken place on the river—but that didn’t stop numerous sightings of the ship decades later.
It is said that the ship only appears in winter nights, engulfed in flames and with the screams of the burning inside. The appearance of the ship is an omen of similar disasters befalling those who see it.
With a name like the Red River, it’s hard not be off put. What’s more unsettling is the fact that it is the supposed haunt of the Bell Witch, a poltergeist who has her lair in a cave near the river. According to legend, the bell witch is a powerful entity that visited the Bell family of Adams, Tennessee. If their account was to be believed, she would set strange invisible creatures on the family and sing hymns in the darkness. Two of the Adams men later enlisted to fight under General Andrew Jackson—who would go on to become president—and tales of Bell Witch intrigued him, provoking the general to lead a small military detachment to sniff out the witch.
The legend says that Jackson’s men fled in fear, although the general himself believed the witch to be a fraud.
To this day, visitors say they could still hear the noises of children playing and strange candle-like lights in the distance. Other tales talk about humanoid figures hiding among the trees and of invisible creatures lurking beneath the water.
There is plenty of catfish and stripped bass though, so anglers are willing to brave a few scary stories.
Also known as Monocacy River, Maryland’s Rock Creek is the source of many ghost stories. This is largely due to the water’s history as a popular slave escape route and also because of the large number of casualties in the area during the Civil War. It is said that near 50,000 soldiers stained the river with their blood during the course of battles near the river, and it is their ghosts who still linger on. Residents report seeing bodies floating in the creek and the sound of musket shots, as if there was some great battle raging.
The LeGore Bridge that spans the river is also a common topic among ghost hunters. Built around 1900, the bridge is famous as a teen hangout and also as a notorious suicide bridge. Numerous accidents and injuries near the structure also gives it a sinister reputation and locals say they avoid it at night. Not even the promise of trout will convince anglers to come here during the dark.
The Tar River—North Carolina
Known as a great place for large catfish and kayak fishing, the Tar River has a darker reputation as the home of a ravenous banshee. According to local legend, a miller was killed near the river by British soldiers during the Revolutionary War, and he cursed the river with his dying breath. Shortly afterwards, a banshee appeared and ripped the soldiers to shreds, going on to haunt the river for new victims.
Pocantico River—New York
Perhaps most famous haunted body of water on this list, the Pocantico River is known best for its part in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. While the book may be a work of fiction, nervous residents still keep an eye out for the headless horseman, who is said to ride alongside the river looking for hapless victims. Author Washington Irving chose the Pocantico for the setting because of its—at the time—undeveloped nature, “dark” runs, and rumors of old magic hidden underneath the riverbed.
Anglers however, know the Pocantico as a great place to fish for brown and brook trout.
You may have not heard of the Green River, but you may have heard of the Green River Killer. In 2003, Gary Ridgway was sentenced to life in prison for 48 separate murders—although he later admitted to killing as twice as many people. In a plea deal that spared him from the death sentence, Ridgway later revealed to authorities the locations of where he buried the bodies. The first five were found in the Green River, giving this notorious serial killer his nickname.
Stories have already sprung up around the river and many residents now avoid it. It is said that some of Ridgway’s victims, which were generally women or girls, could be seen walking through the river. Investigators said Ridgway would pick up runaways or hitchhikers along Pacific Highway South, try to seduce them, and ultimately strange them. The bodies were found in clusters around the Green River.
It is said that the woods near the Green River have darkened since Ridgway’s incarceration, and that the land seems hungry somehow.
At least the river is still a great place to fish for salmon and steelhead.