For nearly 80 years people in the Jamestown area of central North Carolina have reported the lovely hitchhiker named Lydia. Lydia is not your typical hitchhiker though… she’s been dead since 1923.
The story is one long told and probably well known…it isn't just a ‘ghost’ story but a long standing campfire story, an urban legend that has spawned others and a part of North Carolina's best known lore.
The happening goes something likes this…a driver traveling along route 70 east of Jamestown and near High Point passes a lovely and obviously stranded young woman in white. When the driver (who seems to frequently be male and alone) stops to pick up this woman, she asks that she be taken to her home in High Point.
Some allege that she goes on to tell of an argument with her beau while at a dance. As they driver and his new passenger approach the town of High Point, she proceeds to direct him…down this street, take this turn, the next house down. They arrive, the driver graciously goes around to open to the door for her…only to find (you know this part don't you?) she's not there.
Since letting things be is simply not an option, invariably the driver approaches the house, knocking on the door until someone answers. He tells his tale and the reply he gets is rather chilling. He is told that the hitchhiker is Lydia, and yes she lived there until she was killed on the way home from a dance. She is still trying to get home by flagging down passing cars for a ride…a ride that never seems to get her home. In almost every version the person answering the door is Lydia’s mother. In many she shows the driver a photo of her daughter, and upon verifying that it was her proceeds to tell her story.
The first person to report such a sighting was in 1924. To this day the tale is persistent. Perhaps because it seems there really WAS a Lydia, and she did die in 1923 on her way home. Perhaps because the story is so well and easily told and never fails to get a shiver out of the audience. Perhaps because Lydia really is still there, hoping for that ride that will finally take her home…maybe then, with her last need fulfilled she can move on.
Stories continue, not only of the hitchhiker, but also reports of a pale woman seen standing just past the bridge, of screams from the bridge and feelings of eerie watchfulness. Is Lydia still wandering near the bridge? Or are the screams from nearby apartment complexes? Is the pale shape seen really of Lydia? Has anyone given her a ride lately?
Lydia’s bridge still stands, although it is now 40 or so feet from the new overpass. On High Point Rd from Greensboro heading towards Jamestown, there is a new overpass at the Welcome to Jamestown sign. Parking nearby and walking through the thick vegetation will bring you to the old bridge…and maybe to Lydia.
Astute reader Larry Jones sent us the following e-mail: "I located a Guilford County/High Point Death Certificate for: Lydia Jane M******* Born 1904 in High Point Died December 31, 1923 from fatal injuries from motoring accident [...]" Yet more evidence to support that Lydia actually existed, and died as reported. As to whether she still haunts the bridge where she died, that is another question...