The Mysterious Paint Rock

I’ve always loved history and when you add in a dash of mystery, well, it makes everything all the better. My Mama’s family was from Paint Rock, North Carolina, just over the Tennessee border from Cocke County, where moonshine is king. As a matter of fact, and as a side note, moonshining has its roots in Appalachia (which, in turn, gave rise to NASCAR, but that’s for another day).

When my children were small, I continued the genealogy research that I had begun while in college. That led me to Paint Rock and locating a distant relative. She was gracious in showing me and the children an old family cemetery, and I was able to take pictures and film the occasion for my Mama (I eventually took her back some time later). While there, I discovered that the name “Paint Rock” came from a petroglyph made by indigenous people around 2500 BCE. Since I was never able to find it, I always wondered what it looked like and where it was located. Recently, I found information online, including a photo, and now the mystery is solved. Now, I just need to see it in person.

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The “Paint Rock” where the city gets its name.
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Scenic panorama with paint rock at left.

According to, Paint Rock is one of the ten most haunted places in North Carolina. The ghost of a Cherokee man has been spotted wandering the woods near the river and the springs. Other people claim to have seen a singing Cherokee woman instead.

A more famous rock said to be 10,000 years old is the Judaculla Rock located in Jackson County, outside of Cullowhee and 41 miles from Cherokee, North Carolina. This one also has a mysterious and interesting history. Click on the links below to read more.

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Judaculla Rock (diagram with glyphs)
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Actual Judaculla Rock

I would love to go back to North Carolina and do more research and probably will once I start my next novel: a middle-grade mystery involving Melungeons. Sound intriguing? Do you know what Melungeons are? That’s for another day and another blog.

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