It is not very often that you will hear of a naked ghost. Although a lot of skeptics will point out that all ghosts should be completely unclothed. As they put it: “If a ghost isn’t barefoot, it means that shoes have souls, too!”
For me, that argument is lost against the stories of haunting throughout time. The power that can bind one’s spirit to the earth after death defies earthly reason. Thus, to the believer, it is perfectly logical, that a ghost may appear in any form or attire that it chooses or that is cursed upon him or her. If you don’t believe me, drive to Craven Street Bridge. It is only 2.5 miles from Applewood Manor and if you go in the early evening hours on a hot day of summer and you are likely to see a naked boy running alongside your car only to disappear before he can cross to the end of the bridge.
Most haunting spirits appear to do so because of their tragic or untimely death–or because they died before they could complete something of great importance. It seems that revenge or unfinished business tends to compel one’s soul to return to the site of the offending death.
Sometime in the early 1900s, on a hot summer day, a group of young boys decided to cool off in the French Broad River. It was before bathing suits, so they stripped down and jumped in the water wearing nothing but their birthday suits. They were playing and laughing, not aware that they were floating further and faster down the river than usual. The problem was that storms upriver had created dangerous undercurrents and the French Broad was flowing more swiftly. Time passes quickly when you are having fun, and they were surprised by the fading light as the sun began going down. The river had taken them close to the pilings of the Craven Street Bridge and dangerous rapids. And that is when they notice that one of their group was missing.
They searched and searched for their missing friend. One of the boys ran for help. Neighbors added to the search efforts and boats and lanterns were used to light up the river. They never found him nor his remains. Searchers surmised that the French Broad’s powerful undercurrents around the rocks and pilings captured the swimmer—holding him down while the rapids pounded and dragged him to his death. Eventually, they gave up the search. It was not long after the search was called off that people began to report seeing a naked boy running across the bridge. It might have been a prank, except for what happen every time the boy was spotted. People would call out to the runner, but he never seems to hear. Then, just as the runner got close to the end of the bridge, he would vanish—disappear into thin air! The poor boy could never get across the bridge.
Ghost stories have always been around. Folklore abounds with stories of hauntings and sightings. Most people believe they are made-up tales. But there is something different here. There are too many stories in a place filled with smart and intelligent people. Some people say it is different here because things can die slowly in these mountains of Asheville. They say there are powerful paranormal and energy vortexes in our mountains due to their quartz content including clear crystal quartz. And these forces have labeled Asheville as the most haunted place on the planet. Perhaps that difference—the mountain energy—is the thing that is keeping the soul of our naked spirit bound to the place of his death—the place that prevented him from returning home from his swimming adventure. Is it that he can never rest until he can cross the Craven Street Bridge to go home?