The, possibly, true story of haunted Helen's Bridge
Helen’s Bridge is located at 201 Beaucatcher Road in Asheville North Carolina. There are many different stories that surround Helen’s Bridge, but the one thing they have in common is a woman named Helen who found her untimely death near or on that bridge. The arched bridge is made from quarried stone and was built in 1909 to provide access to the nearby Zealandia Castle.
Here is the story of Helen that I was raised on:
Helen was a dedicated mother and lived across from Zealandia on the other side of the bridge. Her daughter often played with the children who lived in Zealandia, so it was natural for her to be gone most of the day. On one unfortunate day, Helen’s daughter, who has always remained unnamed, was playing in Zealandia when the mansion caught fire. Being that the construction of Zealandia rendered it virtually fire-proof, the fire only destroyed one room. As fate would have it, Helen’s daughter was caught in the room that was engulfed by flames. When Helen went to retrieve her daughter, she learned of her daughter's fate. Distraught Helen raced back across the bridge but stopped when she saw a rope on the bridge. Full of misery and woe, Helen hung herself. The next morning, a construction crew working in the area at that time, found Helen’s lifeless body hanging from the bridge. From that day on, Helen continues to search for her daughter. Those who have seen her never return to Beaucatcher Mountain, especially after dark. Others have permanent white handprints in the paint of their car, and one man’s car never ran again.
That’s the story my parents told me about Helen’s Bridge. I was probably around 10 or so when they first took me to the bridge, I can’t remember exactly. I have been so infatuated with Helen’s Bridge that in one of my high school English classes, we had to make a documentary movie. My group did Helen’s Bridge. We talked to one of the people who worked at Festiva Resorts who occupied Zealandia Castle at that time. We also talked to my mom who shared a story about how she scared the crap out of one of her coworkers. She was a delivery driver for Airborne Express. One day, she and a coworker were driving through Asheville and went over Beaucatcher Mountain. She wasn’t driving that day, so when they got go to the bridge, she rolled her window down, leaned out, and screamed Helen, Helen, Helen. Her coworker was familiar with the legend and quickly freaked out.
Now, there are many different theories about Helen’s Bridge, and unfortunately, there is no definitive proof of a woman named Helen ever living anywhere near that bridge. The one thing we do have information on is Zealandia Castle and the bridge.
Another story of Helen has her house catching on fire. The story goes that she had just given birth to her daughter and while cooking, her house caught on fire. She ran upstairs to rescue her daughter, but she passed out before getting out of the house. Firefighters rescued her and her daughter from the house but was only able to resuscitate Helen. When Helen awoke, she was told her only reason for living was dead. Helen wandered through the woods, soon coming upon the bridge, and hung herself.
I think it is a good time to discuss Zealandia. The construction of the house began in 1889. The basement of the house is carved out the solid granite of Beaucatcher Mountain. John Evans Brown had the home constructed and named it Zealandia in honor of New Zealand where he had been in the parliment. The original home had a more castle-like feel to it, but Mr. Brown died in 1895. A few years later, the home was acquired by Sir Philip S Henry and he doubled the size of the home and transformed it into a Tudor style home. He filled the home with ancient relics. In the 1950s, part of the original castle was taken down for safety reasons. 26 years later, the construction of I-240 took out some of Beaucatcher Mountain and the home suffered further. The home was owned by another family after Sir Philip, the Dixon’s, and eventually came under the ownership of Zealandia Holding Company in 2000.
Since the home was built in 1889, Mr. Brown died in 1895, and the bridge was constructed in 1909, that would mean Helen likely hung herself while the home was owned by Sir Philip S Henry. Philip’s first wife, Florine Lewisohn, tragically died in a hotel fire in 1903. The year after, he took his two young daughters to Asheville. He gave Asheville its first art museum, but that’s not what we are here to talk about.
If the story of Helen that I was raised on is true, that would mean her daughter was playing with the two daughters of Sir Philip S. Henry. His daughters, Violet and Lenore, took over ownership of the house after their father’s death. But the thing is, there is no reports of a fire ever happening at Zealandia during this time, and why would they have been able to make it out and not Helen’s daughter?. In 1961, the house was sold to George Dixon and his wife. Still, no mention of a fire. That means the story I was raised on was likely untrue, but the story of Helen is known by just about everybody.
While my friends and I worked on our documentary in high school, we interviewed a custodian at what was then Festiva Resorts. He said that a woman was at a ball in Zealandia and while dancing in the ballroom, caught fire after standing too close to the fireplace, fell out the window, and rolled down the hill towards the bridge.
Since there is no old news articles about the tragedy that may or may not have taken place atop of Beaucatcher Mountain, we can’t say for certain what the true origins of the story are. It could be that the name Helen was taken from the grisly murder of Helen Clevenger at Battery Park Hotel. Who knows what could have happened at that bridge, but people who have visited late at night knowing that there is something off about the bridge and its energy.