Graveyard Island – Harris, North Carolina - Atlas Obscura

Graveyard Island

Harris, North Carolina

The final resting place of the hundreds of bodies originally buried where Badin Lake sits now. 


Every so often, you discover a place riddled with a history that entices the imagination and provokes your curiosity. Down the railroad tracks nestled between the towns of New London and Badin, North Carolina, lies such a place.

Graveyard Island is where the dead rest in wooded solitude, far away from the traffic lights and convenience stores. But the small sliver of land wasn’t their original resting place.

Following the turn of the 20th century, Graveyard Island was selected to house the bodies of those buried where Badin Lake sits now. In 1917, the Yadkin River was dammed to produce hydroelectric power for Alcoa, an aluminum manufacturing company, which in turn created the lake.

The dead were moved in the years before the dam was built and the newly formed lake flooded the land. It’s estimated that close to 300 bodies are scattered throughout the island, spread throughout three graveyards. The tract of land houses unmarked and marked graves dating as far back as the early 1800s.

Know Before You Go

Visit at your own discretion and be aware that some parts of the island contain "No Trespassing" signs. If you want to visit the graveyard contact the Atlantic Railways office at 803-756-3710, to safely make arrangements to access the island. 

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