The Demon Dog of Valle Crucis, North Carolina an Urban Legend

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My day job is working as a pest control technician for an awesome company here in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Come to find out, I have a haunted site on my route. (Yeah, I know. What are the odds that the horror author gets the route with a haunted place or even better a place haunted by a demon dog?) I have included pictures in this article that I took the last time I was in this area. This local legend of the demon dog of Valle Crucis has been around since the late 1800s.

The story was birthed at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Valle Crucis, North Carolina around 1860. A few people were found dead in the nearby woods by an apparent animal attack. Instead of looking for a rational explanation of what happened, the local minister claimed he saw a “demon dog” kill these people. I’m not bashing ministers or any religion or denomination, for I myself an am ordained minister, but given the time period should we be surprised?

This urban legend has gone on for several generations, but the most popular story has to do with two young men who were students at App State. They were traveling down the road next to the church one moonlit autumn night. A large, shadowy figure leaped our from behind one of the tombstones from the church’s graveyard and appeared in front of their vehicle. The driver swerved to the side of the road to avoid slamming into whatever had stepped in front of them. According to witnesses, he slammed on the breaks and eased his vehicle to the shoulder.

Cemetery in Valle Crucis at St. John's Episcopal Church
St. John's Episcopal Church and gravestones

The two friends peered out the window into the darkness. The figure took shape under the moonlight and they were shocked at what they saw. A massive dog, the size of a full grown man, stood in the road staring at them. it was covered in shimmering black fur and had large, yellow teeth. It’s eyes were glowing red and did not reflect back the light like a dog or cat’s eyes will sometimes do at night. One of the young men turned to the other and said, “Do you see that?” His friend replied, “No, and neither do you.”

Sign in front of tombs at St. John's Episcopal Church

The dog eased towards the vehicle and growled. The driver took his foot off the braked and slammed on the gas. The vehicle sped down the dark, mountain road, hugging the curves as hard as it could without flipping. Sixty miles and hour…Seventy miles an hour…the driver did his best to keep the car under control. He glanced in his rear view mirror and had the shock of his life. The demon dog was keeping us with the car. No, it was gaining on them.

The driver mashed the accelerator even harder. The car sped over a the bridge where the streams in Valle Crucis meet to form a cross (the name in Latin means Vale of the Cross). The dog stopped following them and then vanished.

St. John's Episcopal Church sign established in 1862

The frightened friends drove into Boone and stopped at a local diner, which was the only place open late at night. They tried to let their nerves settle down but it wasn’t happening. They knew neither of them were going to get to sleep for a while. They also knew they had experienced something terrifying and supernatural. The two men shared their story and the urban legend of the Demon Dog of Valle Crucis was cemented into North Carolina folklore forever.

There are other stories surrounding this quaint little cemetery at St. John’s. Some have reported seeing the apparition of a woman wondering around the graves. Others have reported sounds of gunshots and a weeping female, all of which cannot be connected to any known event.

Is the legend of the Demon Dog true? Is this a case of lycanthropy maybe?


When I was out there, I called and whistled for the demon dog several times. I walked among the graves and tried to see if I could get him to come out. He was either napping or had better things to do. I got back in my truck and drove away. I looked in my review, and to my disappointment, there was no demon dog chasing me.


6 replies on “The Demon Dog of Valle Crucis, North Carolina an Urban Legend”

In the account I read of the two students who encountered the dog, it was a *stone* church off of Hwy. 194, with leaning gravestones. That description matches the Holy Cross Episcopal Church, at Stiles Way. I have been to both Holy Cross and St. John’s Episcopal Church, and am familiar with the stories connected to St. John’s. However, it is a wooden church, and is not right off Hwy. 194. Either the writer of the article confused the two churches in his description , or he was referring to Holy Cross, not St. John’s, in regards to the demon dog story. What do you think?

Hey Linda, thanks for commenting. Those are actual pictures I took of the church. I live in the area and this is the church of the legend. It is a couple of turns off Highway 194 and is the only St. John’s around. From what I have read the legends are based out of this church and not Holy Cross. However, being urban legend and being a story that has been passed down, it is possible it started off at Holy Cross (though I have not read of it happening there) and moved to St. John’s. All the research I did connected the story to St. John’s. Thanks again for reading!

I heard a different story while at App and it had nothing to do with a dog. I heard that the preacher committed suicide for molesting someone and at the graveyard, the preacher is said to be buried at the bottom of the hill so all his congregation would “look down on him” for eternity. While at App, I took photography and went up there one fall afternoon to take pictures of the church and gravestones. While developing the film in the darkroom, i was washing one photo of the church when, very plainly to me and all of the other students, a shadow of a live coming down out of the vestibule led to what looked exactly like a body hanging. It shook me up pretty bad. Somewhere buried in my house i still have that photo.

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