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Dale Montgomery's Ghost Walk
Sharing The Haunted History Of Oriental
October 31, 2017

E
ven before he moved to Oriental, Dale Montgomery had this sense that the town had stories to dig up. Once here, he pored over historic documents, talked with people who passed along the tales they’d heard of Oriental back when. He collected tales.

Then, a few years ago, sporting a signature fedora and pocketwatch, Dale began leading the Oriental Ghost Walk. Looking a tad spectral himself, he can be seen some nights leading groups around the village. They stop at places that residents pass without notice daily and Dale sketches stories – at times chilling, funny, dark – of an Oriental of times past.

Oriental Ghost Walk 2017
Dale Montgomery tells a story of the Cartwright House.

On a recent Ghost Walk, TownDock.net trailed along. There were the better known histories and mysteries of the Pamlico Sound, the pirates Anne Bonny and blackbearded Edward Teach, and the long-running rumors of buried treasure in nearby Teach’s Cove. But Dale Montgomery moves his narrative and visitors inland – along Oriental’s streets, stopping at local landmarks to talk about how they made their mark.

Oriental Ghost Walk 2017
One stop on the tour: The Lost Block got its name in the hurricane of 1933, when several homes were lost in the river.

An early stop, for instance, is at the watery end of Wall Street. A historic marker speaks of The Lost Block and the 1933 hurricane that washed away several houses and the land in what is now part of the Neuse. Dale adds to this the stories of The Dale, a boat and crew lost in the Neuse during the storm, and of Elijah Dixon and his family’s tragedy in Adams Creek. In a heavy storm, the winds whipping in from the water can sound like one lost person calling for another.

Further into the village, Dale tells of another tragedy that struck Oriental after the Great Depression. Two men, friends and business partners, lost all they had. Their houses still stand across the street from each other. Dale refers to it as Suicide Corner. One committed suicide, and the other, staring across the road where his friend had once lived, soon followed suit.

He tells the group that a longtime owner of one of the homes spent her childhood there and said something else was definitely in the house. Far from being ghoulish, she said, she always felt safe and protected there.

Oriental Ghost Walk 2017
Two homes sit across from each other where long ago, friends took their lives.

To balance the tragedy, Dale also talks about the more humorous side of Oriental’s past, telling the tale of Arol Land’s pet alligator and the bar at Wit’s End. This particular alligator could be walked on a leash through town and was known to outdrink anyone. And though Dale says no one believes it, the story was told to him by a local Judge who swears it is true.

Oriental Ghost Walk 2017
Wit’s End.

He stops near two gargoyles noting that they were historically placed high up on churches to fend off evil. In Oriental they are perched lower – on the porch of the Cartwright House. He suggests that over time, the inn had some ghostly characteristics – or characters.

Oriental Ghost Walk 2017
A gargoyle welcomes visitors to the Cartwright House.

Dale Montgomery collects bits of Oriental history and stories. Some of these tales happened on the river, or in the town, or on the lands nearby. Not all of them are tragic and Dale always suggests light-of-day explanation that can help explain away the more peculiar ones. But if unnerving is what you’re looking for, ask him about the plantation at China Grove… the strange sounds from the grounds, the garden in the middle of the drive, the shadows on the third floor…

Oriental Ghost Walk 2017
The Plantation at China Grove welcomes you.

Posted Tuesday October 31, 2017 by Melinda Penkava


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