Halloween week is here!

Small buildings along a dirt road in Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

What’s better than a ghost story or two to get you in the mood for All Hollow’s Eve? Here are some of our favorite Smoky Mountain Ghost Stories and locations.

Cades Cove

We love Cades Cove any time of year, but it also is the most well-known location of haunted places in the Smoky Mountains. With its abandoned cabins, churches, and cemeteries, Cades Cove makes for an eerie scene as dusk approaches.

There are a few Cades Cove ghost stories that have been told for decades. One is the tale of “The Cussing Cover,” which can be found in The Granny Curse and Other Ghosts and Legends from East Tennessee, a 1999 book by Janet Barnett and Randy Russell.

The Cussing Cover

The story is about Mavis Estep who was married to Basil long before the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They called Cades Cove home and they and their children lived in a two-room cabin along the Whistling Branch stream.

Cabin in Cades Cove

Mavis was terrified of being struck by lighting and thought for sure that would be the way she would die. She had been born during a thunderstorm and thought she was fated to be killed by a lightning bolt. She never stayed out in the rain and banished metal beds from the family’s home. This was not to be the case.

Mavis made many quilts and her favorite was a patchwork made with pieces of one of Basil’s shirts, which was a red flannel. Mavis called it the “Cussing Cover” because Basil had been wearing the red flannel during their first marital spat, which included some colorful language, according to local legend.

A Broken Promise

Mavis fell ill and when it was apparent she didn’t have much time left, she gave Basil some instructions. First, she gave him permission to remarry but made him promise that he would never sell any of her quilts and that he never place any of her quilts upon a metal bed. Basil agreed.

Less than a year after Mavis’s death, Basil took a new wife, Trulie Jane Lawson, who was much younger and also lived in Cades Cove. Trulie Jane found that Mavis’s old wooden bed simply wasn’t big enough for her. She persuaded Basil to buy them a metal bed. Now, you know Mavis didn’t like that!

One evening, when the weather was particularly cold, Trulie Jane asked Basil if they could use one of Mavis’s quilts to stay warm. Basil allowed Trulie to bring a quilt onto the metal bed. Trulie chose the Cussing Cover.

Lightning Strikes

In the middle of the night, Trulie Jane awoke to a startling sight: Mavis standing at the foot of her bed. The specter locked eyes with Trulie and started screaming and cussing up a storm. Trulie woke up her husband in a panic, but when Basil was roused from his sleep, Mavis had vanished. Despite Trulie’s protests, Basil assured his wife that it must have been a nightmare, and they both returned to sleep.

A few hours later, a flash of light burst into the Estep home and knocked Trulie Jane right out of bed. When the smoke cleared, she found Basil, lying on the floor, burnt to a crisp, where the metal bed had once stood. The rest of the cabin remained untouched, and the Cussing Cover was in pristine condition. There hadn’t been any thunderstorms in Cades Cove that night, just the stray bolt of lightning that ended Basil Estep’s life.

After Basil’s death, Trulie Jane didn’t want anything to do with Mavis’s quilts, so she gave them to one of the Estep daughters, who in turn sold them to a collector. The Cussing Cover is still out there, possibly for sale in a shop around the Smokies. Buyer beware!

Roaring Fork

Roaring Fork

Along, the narrow, winding, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail are rushing mountain streams, glimpses of old-growth forest, and a number of well-preserved log cabins, grist mills, and other historic buildings. Visitors might also see Lucy looking for a ride. According to the story, Lucy lived with her family in a cabin along the Roaring Fork River in the 1990s. She died one night when the cabin caught on fire and burned down.

When she died, a man named Foster discovered Lucy’s body on a very cold night in the middle of winter. It is said that this man had seen that she didn’t have any shoes and offered her a ride on the back of his horse. He would bring her home. However, this man would not stop thinking about her. He later stopped by the house to see if he could marry the young girl. The parents told him that Lucy had died many years ago. He realized she had died before he had offered her a ride home.

It is said that ever since Lucy has been seen wandering near or on the trail.

Visit Lucy

The cabin where Lucy lived is said to have another ghost woman there. Rooms are still for rent in the 200-year-old cabin.

One family staying in the cabin went out for some food because the kitchen was messy and the table covered the items. The couple came home and went to bed. When they awoke the next morning, they found that the table was set and complete with everything they needed including napkins, plates and utensils.

Another family stated the door was open when they arrived. They went to dinner later that night and when they returned, the door was open again. The next day they had made sure that the door was locked tight and latched. There was no way that it could be opened without their key. However, when they returned, the door was open. An old goat cart inside with extra pillows and blankets is said to show up in different parts of the room.

Elkmont Ghost Town

Elkmont Ghost Town is about 8 miles. Take US-411 from Gatlinburg to the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Then drive toward Cades Cove for about 7 miles until you see the sign for Elkmont Campground.

A trip to Elkmont, Tennessee, is sure to be filled with mystery and storytelling. Once a settlers’ village, then a logging community, its lively existence came to an end as a wealthy visitors’ country club community that Smoky Mountains National Park let fade into its current dilapidated state.

Cottage in the abandoned vacation town of Elkmont.

Just 15 minutes from Gatlinburg, Elkmont offers hiking and exploring opportunities. There are trails, a cemetery, dilapidated buildings to admire from outside and refurbished buildings that can be explored and even rented for special occasions.

Preserving The Past

Today only eighteen of the 70 buildings are being preserved by the National Park Service. The Appalachian Clubhouse and Spence Cabin were rehabilitated in 2010 for day use. Park crews also completed preservation work on four additional cabins in 2017. These four cabins are now open to the public to walk through and view. But beware Elkmont by night is not the intriguing history lesson it is by day.

If you see a lost soul in Elkmont, it might belong to one of the workers who lost their lives on the mountain – maybe Daddy Bryson and Charles Jenkins.

On June 30, 1909, Bryson was driving a train stacked with logs heading to Townsend from Elkmont. As the train approached a sharp curve, Jenkins, the brakeman, applied the brakes, trying to account for the rails being wet with rain from earlier in the day. The National Park Service reports that brakes didn’t have enough sand and passengers and crew leapt to safety.

Bryson and Jenkins remained aboard the train and paid with their lives. Tourists flocked to the wreck, not to mourn the lives lost but to gawk, gander and get photos of the wreck. Perhaps that is why the brothers decided to stay around and haunt the area.

The Grieving Wife

Also in Elkmont, on Robinson Road, off Veto Road and north of Elkmont, a family from the Civil War is said to ride through the hollow in the darkness of the night.

During the Civil War, a Southern officer was captured by the Yankees and they cut off his head in front of his wife and young daughter. On many nights, the woman rides through the hollow over a small bridge. She is on a white horse and the little girl is sitting behind her. The grieving wife holds her husband in front of her. It is told that she is looking for his head.

For more about Elkmont, read our blog post.

In addition to the spooky abandoned cabins, there are plenty of cemeteries in the Smoky Mountains. Check out this piece of history.


Go exploring on your own in these unique haunted spots or book a tour. There are several – let American Patriot Getaways help you find the perfect one.

Take the Gatlinburg Haunts tour for a guided look into the dark corners of this mountain town.

Once the home to cannibals, family feuds that go back generations, and a healthy tradition of witchcraft; come see where ghosts of today and the past walk the streets, searching for peace they never found in this peculiar corner of Tennessee.

Read more about Gatlinburg Ghost Tour 2021 – https://www.viator.com/tours/Gatlinburg/Gatlinburg-Ghost-Tour/d24151-191197P1?mcid=56757

Cabin Rentals Near Elkmont

Ready to book your trip to The Great Smoky Mountains and take a trip to through the ghost stories?

Heavenly Homestead

We have cabins in beautiful Wears Valley – about 9 miles from Elkmont – and also near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge if you prefer to stay closer to attractions, shows and shopping.

Give American Patriot Getaways a call at 800-204-5169. Let our experts help you find the right cabin and all the right fun, food and entertainment.

Check out our Travel Guide for everything to do and many of our cabins.

If you need more help planning your Smoky Mountain Vacation, be sure to check out all our vacation guides, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

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