American History & Hauntings


The Legend of the University of North Carolina

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Chapel Hill, North Carolina is an old city and one steeped in tradition, as any student at the University of North Carolina can tell you. There is one tradition of the college that involves a ghost. It also involves, passion, courage, love and horrible death.... which means it has all the classics of a wonderful legend. But it is a legend based in fact.... and as we all know, truth is much stranger than fiction ever dreams of being.

Near a place called the Gimghoul Castle, on Piney Prospect, is a local landmark called Dromgoole Rock. According to the stories, this rock covers the grave of one Peter Dromgoole, a tragic figure in Chapel Hill history. The rock is stained with red, and the stories will tell you this red is the symbolic blood of the man buried beneath it.

But who was Peter Dromgoole.. and how did he meet his untimely end?

He was the son of a prominent Virginia family who entered the university in 1831. He was a reckless and care-free young man who was fond of fast horses, cards, heavy drinking and loose women... until the day that he fell madly in love. Peter’s lover was a young woman named Fanny, who was unlike any other young woman that he had previously pursued. Their usual trysting place was on top of Piney Prospect, where there still exists a small spring called Miss Fanny’s Spring.

Unfortunately for Peter, there existed another young man with dreams of courting Fanny. In fact, he had been rejected by her in favor of Peter and this young man, was insanely jealous. The man challenged Peter to a duel and the two of them met one night on Piney Prospect. The pistols fired and Peter was killed.

The other students were suddenly stunned over what had happened and the young men gathered for the duel quickly dug a shallow grave and placed Peter in it. They covered the evidence of his death with a large stone and hurried away, determined to keep the duel a secret.

The next day, Fanny came to the spring, but Peter never appeared. In the days that followed, she came back repeatedly but she never saw him again. Finally, she started to make inquiries about him, but could only learn that he had left campus. From that day on, she returned every day to Piney Prospect and waited for her lover, sitting and weeping on the very rock under which he was buried. Eventually, she grew sick and died, of course, from her broken heart.

As the years have passed, many believe that the rock, and even the castle beyond it, are haunted... perhaps by the ghost of Fanny or by Peter Dromgoole himself.

Regardless, the story of Peter Dromgoole remains a ghostly part of the University’s legacy and a riddle that will probably never be solved.

The University of North Carolina is located in Chapel Hill, which is southwest of Durham in the north-central part of the state.

Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

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