Volunteer State Hauntings
The Many Haunted Places of Tennessee
Tennessee has always had it's fair share of haunted places, strange occurrences and paranormal experiences, but it is often looked over due to the "southern kindness" factor that you can find here in abundance. Despite our laid back attitude and kindness, bad things can happen anywhere, and Tennessee has had more than its fair share despite of what you may have heard; and any ghost hunter worth there salt will tell you that you almost always need bad things to have happened to experience paranormal phenomena.
Within the first few months of moving to Tennessee 15 years ago I began asking friendly locals to tell me some ghost stories, and let's just say that I wasn't disappointed. While the whole area has a long history of accomplishments, there is plenty of pain and death to go around too. The 16th state to join the Union may not be the first one that comes to mind when someone mentions the word "scary", "spooky" or "haunted" but those of us who live here know we have our fair share of these places. I'm going to share a few of them with you; I'll leave it up to the reader to decide on whether or not they dare to visit them. Thanks for taking a look and, who knows, maybe I'll see you one day in this life... or the next.
- Newport - Cocke County Memorial Building: Used back in the 1970's to store bodies from a plane crash of about seventy people that happened in Parrottsville (there were no survivors). Children crying and women wailing in pain are just some of the sounds claimed to be heard at times. (101-121 Church St.)
- Purdy - Purdy Graveyard: Countless apparitions have been seen and heard at this cemetery, which is one of the oldest in West Tennessee.
- Collinwood - Park In Center of Town: If you take a walk through the park on a windy night, it is rumored that there is one tree whose limbs and leaves are not moving; that tree was a place where many slaves were once hung.
- Memphis - Orpheum Theater: Opened in 1928, the Orpheum was built on the same site as the Grand Opera House which burned to the ground in 1923. Of the six spirits that inhabit the building the most frequently seen is that of a 12 year old named Mary. She's not vindictive in any way (but has been known to play childish pranks) and actually has a favorite seat (C5). She's the girl with long braided hair often wearing a 1920's style white dress. (203 S Main St.)
- Gatlinburg - Roaring Fork Motor Trail: When driving along this road you may just get flagged down by a beautiful woman named Lucy, who reportedly died in a cabin fire circa 1909.
- Wartburg - Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary: This now closed maximum-security prison near the town of Petros in Morgan County will eventually be turned into a tourist destination (at least that's the plan). In the meantime the Brushy Mountain Group take requests for paranormal tours of up to a maximum of 12 people (for a price). After a guide familiarizes you with the area at 11 PM, you are free to wander the prison on your own until 6 AM.
Over the course of my life I've been to lots of places. Shadowed places where things have gone wrong. Sinister places where things still are. I always hate the sunlit towns, full of newly built developments with double-car garages in shades of pale eggshell, surrounded by green lawns and dotted with laughing children. Those towns aren't less haunted than the others. They're just better liars.— Kendare Blake, Anna Dressed in Blood
Scary Places Where the Chances Of Seeing A Ghost Are High
- Shiloh - Shiloh National Park: The Battle of Shiloh had more than 23,000 casualties when it was fought in 1862. There are plenty of stories of people running into ghost soldiers during the night.
- Knoxville - Bijou Theatre: The Bijou is actually composed of two buildings. The Lamar House (which now plays host to the Bistro restaurant and the theater's offices), built in 1817, was opened facing Gay Street as a plush hotel, while the Bijou (constructed towards the rear of the hotel) was opened in 1908. The ghosts of the Bijou are numerous and largely unidentified; they may be actors, actresses or even prostitutes long dead as at one time the older building was a bordello. No worries, though, they all seem to be fairly friendly, even if a bit mischievous at times. (803 S Gay St.)
- Jonesborough - Hawley House Bed and Breakfast: Though this inn has had many additions to it, the original building dates back to 1793. People claim to hear the voices of the "ladies of the night" who used to work there many years ago. (114 E Woodrow Ave.)
- Dover - Bellwood Mansion: Located on Bellwood Landing Rd. near the Cumberland River, this run down mansion is supposed to be a hot spot of paranormal activity and witchcraft.
- Kingsport - Sensabaugh Tunnel: Located just off Big Elm Rd. not too far from Rotherwood Mansion lies a tunnel where a murder (or murders) took place involving a baby. It is rumored that if you drive into the tunnel and cut off your engine you will hear the child crying, but beware, it's also rumored that if you cut the engine while in the tunnel, you won't be able to start it. The road that passes through it is really only used by locals nowadays, so don't count on help from a passing vehicle.
How many times have you been ghost hunting?
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A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man woke in the night.— J.M. Barrie
More Places That Will Give You Goosebumps
Knoxville - First Presbyterian Church Graveyard: This haunted cemetery is the oldest graveyard in Knoxville and is supposed to lay rest to Knoxville's best (James White, William and Mary Blount to name a few). I say supposed because there are many who believe that the bodies have been moved somewhere else. The biggest paranormal draw to this graveyard is the chance to see a dark figure that moves among the tombstones at night. Old Gray Cemetery (only a mile or so away) is another ghostly cemetery that is known to have a shadow figure; I wonder if it's the same one? (Adjacent to 620 State St.)
Chapel Hill - Chapel Hill Light: The railroad crossing in this city is known to have a mysterious light appear when darkness descends. The source of the light is said to be from a lantern carried by a decapitated railroad worker who died many years ago, and is now searching for his head.
Nashville - Old Donelson Hospital: One of the oldest hospitals in Nashville until it closed down. Now used mainly for storage, people who have to enter it say once inside screams and cries can be heard, and if you have to get near the old psych ward you will encounter extreme cold spots even though the building has no air conditioning.
A Personal Story Of An Unknown Haunted Place
I used to go off-trail hiking a lot in the Smoky Mountains and at one point found myself still deep in the woods as darkness was creeping in. I sat down near a rock that had a crude, spray painted happy face and sad face on it to get my bearings when I began to hear someone coming towards me. I immediately began to search for the source, but never saw anyone.
Whatever it was stopped right in front of me (within a few feet) for a moment and then continued walking right on past me. There was still enough light to see, yet I saw nothing - not even rustling leaves made by invisible footsteps. I sat there until the sound was well beyond my location and then quickly made my way back to the trail and back to my car.
I still like to hike off-trail and have actually tried to find the happy, sad-faced rock again. So far, my searches have not paid off. I have never had something like that happen to me before or since, and I'm not sure I want to again (even though I like to hunt ghosts). You see, I got the distinct feeling that whatever it was I ran into that day had somewhat malevolent feelings towards me and I get goosebumps every time I think about it.
If Only Real Haunted Houses Were This Much Fun
© 2017 Don