Graveyard Island – Harris, North Carolina - Atlas Obscura
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Harris, North Carolina

Graveyard Island

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.


The best way to access the island is to take Highway 740 to Old Whitney road. Follow Old Whitney road all the way to the end until you reach the boat landing. Park in the gravel parking lot and follow the train tracks leading to the right. The tracks will split—take the tracks no longer in commission and overgrown with foliage to the far left. Walk about a mile and a half and the island will be on your left