Are you familiar with the “Lady of the Lake”, made famous by Thomas Moore in 1803 when he wrote the poem, “The Lake of the Dismal Swamp”? Moore was an Irish poet, and based his poem on the story of an Indian maid who passed away paddling right before marriage, and is often seen in a white canoe crossing Lake Drummond. According to the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center, the groom followed her into the swamp, believing she had left her grave to enter it, and “was reunited with his Lady of the Lake in death”.
Four main tribes inhabited the Great Dismal: Chesapeake, Nansemond, Chowan, and Warrasqueoc.
Another story that lives on in the swamp is the Deer Tree, which lives on the banks of the Drummond. Two different stories surround the deer tree: the first being that the Deer Tree was actually a deer that changed into a tree to escape hunters, and the second being that the Deer Tree was actually a witch that liked to tease hunting dogs, and after running into the lake, was in fear of drowning and so turned herself into a tree to survive, only to find she could not change back.
As the Dismal Swamp brochure notes, often legends and stories have a root in reality. With the Dismal, foxfire is believed to be the source of strange lighting in the swamp. Foxfire is created by a variety of sources: wood decaying thanks to certain fungi, peat smoldering, or even methane gas rising from the vegetation as it decomposes.
The Dismal also served as a oasis for both freed and escaped slaves. Please read the article from All Things Wildly Considered to learn more about this and other stories.
You can visit them at
2356 US Hwy 17 N
South Mills, NC 27976
252 771 8333
877 771 8333
Website: Dismal Swamp Welcome Center
Facebook: Dismal Swamp Welcome Center