The Legend of Mermaid Point
The Cape Fear River begins about 20 miles upstream from where you sit right now. It forms at the confluence of two North Carolina Piedmont rivers whose origins are in the Greensboro area, the Deep and the Haw, at a place now known as Mermaid Point. The name stuck mostly because of what early settlers say they witnessed near a Revolutionary War-era tavern that sat on the banks of the Deep River, a stone’s throw from the headwaters of the Cape Fear.
Legend has it that in those times many of the tavern’s patrons, on their way home and full of good food and drink, swore to seeing mermaids on a sandbar just beyond the mist at the center of the river, combing their long tresses and rinsing out barnacles and sea-water by the light of the moon. It was thought, so the settlers say, that the fresh water of the Cape Fear River was what mer-folk desired during their trips so far upstream. The Cape Fear River empties into the Atlantic Ocean near Wilmington, and before any dams or locks were built, it was a straight shot from the sea on up to the old tavern where these mermaid sightings occurred.
If approached, the mermaids were said to leap back into the clear, rippling river and disappear.
We’ll only touch lightly on the fact that these sightings seemed to occur on the way home from the tavern after much merry-making and consumption of strong drink. That’s the way the legend’s been passed down and we’re sticking to it.
We’d like to offer our thanks to the good folks at North Carolina Ghost Stories (www.northcarolinaghosts.com) for sharing their account of Mermaid Point with us. Please visit them online to learn more about the ghosts and legends of the state of North Carolina.