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The Ghosts of Lover’s Leap

Do the ghosts of doomed lovers haunt a jagged cliff in Hot Springs, North Carolina? Local legend says yes.

The tragic tale goes something like this:

Long ago, a beautiful Cherokee woman named Mist-on-the-Mountain eloped with Magwa, a handsome member of a visiting tribe. However, the happy union didn’t last long. A jealous suitor named Tall Pine murdered Magwa in a fit of rage. Devastated, Mist-on-the-Mountain fled from the scene and hurled herself over a steep cliff overlooking the French Broad River. Now, they say, the doomed lovers haunt the ledge and river below.

An excerpt from the 1906 book Hot Springs, Past and Present describes one group’s eerie encounter at the spot now known as Lover’s Leap.

“Let the unwary traveler beware when the June moon rises, and the flooded river laps at the base of the rock. Three friendly moonshiners once made a rendezvous at the rock on such a night, June 7, 1875. They were taking a little more than their accustomed stimulant as they waited, when suddenly, as the full moon began to rise, the events of that other night so long ago were enacted before their astonished eyes.

Again they witnessed the death of Magwa, the wild flight and tragic leap of Mist-on-the-Mountain. In panic, they fled, each man for himself, leaving their jugs behind them, never again to rendezvous in that particular spot.”

Lover’s Leap is along the Appalachian Trail, and thousands of hikers have trekked past the fateful cliff. Earlier this month, my husband and I paid a visit, though heat and killer switchbacks were the only things that troubled us.

Do Mist-on-the-Mountain and Magwa lurk at Lover’s Leap? Though contemporary accounts are rare, the haunting legend lives on. As the author of Hot Springs, Past and Present notes:

“Who can say that the unseen spirits of those lovers do not still haunt that grim rock, the site of their love and death, watching with jealous eyes the careless crowds that come and go.”

Does your town have a haunted legend? Share it here.



Ghost and Ghouls

by cnkguy
The Ghosts of Lover’s Leap

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