The Legend of the Gray Man Appearing Before a Hurricane


gray man

This article was first published in September 2018… but it’s still just as interesting in September 2019!

As the coasts of Carolina and Virginia brace for what has the potential to be the most devastating hurricane to ever hit the eastern United States north of Florida, supermarkets and Walmart stores are experiencing a surge of their own as residents in towns hundreds of miles from the coast are emptying the store shelves of bottled water faster than  employees can restock it.

A litter farther to the south, however, and some of the old timers in South Carolina are passing on a superstitious belief to a new generation, as tales of the Gray Man are now being retold.

The Gray Man is a ghost reportedly seen on the coast of Pawleys Island, South Carolina, that warns residents of coming severe storms and hurricanes. Although there are many variations of the legend, most say the Gray Man was first seen in 1822 and the last reported sighting was just before Hurricane Hugo hit the area in 1989.

Legend holds that the Gray Man is the ghost of a young man traveling from Charleston to see his fiancée. On the way, he and his horse were caught in quicksand-like mud in the marshes before Pawley’s Island, and died. His spirit has haunted the shore nearby ever since, looking for the girl he loved.

The Gray Man got national attention just after Hurricane Hugo when residents Jim and Clara Moore were interviewed on the television show “Unsolved Mysteries.” They told their story about seeing the man on the beach and how he disappeared when they waved. Their house was spared in the storm while the homes of their neighbors were heavily damaged.

Others who say they encountered the spirit have credited him with saving them or their homes. Either they have come ashore or left the area and return to find their homes and belongings unscathed by severe storms.  He has been described as a man wearing gray clothing, a long coat, dressed “like a pirate,” and sometimes as having no legs.

With the last reported sighting of this mysterious figure dating back to 1989, scores of residents in the area have been frequenting the stormy beach in anticipation of Hurricane Florence in hopes of spotting the Gray Man themselves.

Like articles like this? Then you would love Appalachian Magazine’s Mountain Voice: 2017: A Collection of Memories, Histories, and Tall Tales of Appalachia!  Click here to check out the book on Amazon!

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