Tennessee March 20, 2015
These 10 Terrifying Places In Tennessee May Haunt Your Dreams
Every year around October, couples start renting films about scary happenings and brutal serial killers, popping popcorn and squeezing their hands over their eyes in pure, old-fashioned terror. What if, however, the horrors of the movies weren’t too far from your back door? Tennessee is rife with Civil War history, and with the hills bleeding eerie stories of death and loss, you can be sure the state has a few secrets of its own.
1) There are some legends that vibrate with fear, and the story of Bell Witch Cave is one of them. The famous legend documents a family violently haunted by a poltergeist with murderous tendencies. Four years of unresolved violence and terror later, family patriarch John Bell was found dead – why? Well, the Bell Witch of course. The paranormal situation reached such a fever pitch that it caught the attention of then General Andrew Jackson who was documented stating, “I would rather take on the entire English Fleet than stay one night in the Bell House.” Hollywood created its own take on the age old story with, “An American Haunting,” released in early 2006.
2) If you’re in Knoxville for music or a movie you are more than likely going to head to the Bijou Theater. What you may not know, however, is that the glitz and glamour is tainted by the malevolent spirit of a man that stalks the halls. The theater was originally a home known as the Lamar House, and has been used as both an adult film theater and war hospital. Colonel William Sanders took his last breath in the bridal suite, and he is the only ghost amongst the soldiers and women of the night that has a solid identity. Come for entertainment, but you may just leave with a ghost.
3) The horrors of the Civil War have carried themselves paranormally into the twenty-first century. The Carnton Mansion is famous for the graveyard housed at the very front of the property, where 1700 Confederate soldiers have found their final resting place. The plantation itself was the location of a brutal battle and used as a hospital in the following weeks. The ghosts that walk the halls aren’t all soldiers, though. With only two of the five Carnton children making it to adulthood, you may hear children running the halls or find the young servant who was murdered in the kitchen humming about her work.
4) There’s nothing like the murder of the innocent to set the stage for a haunting. Greenwood Cemetery is located in Chattanooga across the lake from what once was the home of a wealthy Tennessee family. When the matriarch became ill and wheelchair bound, her husband began a murderous affair. Legend has it that he pushed her wheelchair into the lake and doomed her to an afterlife as a green tinted ghost. Watch for wheelchair marks on the edge of the lake and you just might glimpse the famous woman scorned, wandering the lonely path of the dead.
5) Keeping with the hospital trend, Congress Inn has its own history with the dead, dying and undead. The small motel is located in Nashville where it once served as a Civil War hospital. Guests have woken up unable to move as if some being was sitting on their stomach, whereas others report seeing specters in the hall or hearing voices in the bedrooms. Legend has it that the proprietors ran out of room to bury the dead during the war, and instead cemented the bodies into the basement walls. Creepy.
6) The Delta Queen is currently docked in Chattanooga and has since been converted into a hotel, so come spend the night if you don’t mind ghostly company. There are legends of crotchety old Mary B. Greene appearing to keep guests from a visit to the bar, as well as guests that simply enjoyed their stay on the Queen too much too check out. Don’t be worried about the stairs that lead to nowhere or the shadows in the bedroom – they’re just a part of what makes the Delta Queen so magnificently eerie.
7) If you’re looking for a ghost, it’s behind the walls of a mental institution that will get the horror stories flowing. Opening as the East Tennessee Hospital for the Insane in 1886, the since renamed Lakeshore Asylum has a history of dark medical procedures and experiments. The city of Knoxville swears by reports of strange figures and screams echoing down the halls. The buildings are set to be torn down later this year, so you may want to squeeze in your brush with a spirit sooner rather than later.
8) Loretta Lynn may be lauded for her twangy country ballads, but her home at Hurricane Mills is better known for the ghosts that keep it company. The property is said to be plagued by Civil War soldiers with unfinished business, and self-proclaimed psychic Lynn is more than happy to oblige with her time and intense interest. She has even opened up the property to tours for the public. It’s a two for one deal, folks – a country legend and the ghosts she loves.
9) The Orpheum Theatre is a magnificent place of the arts in Memphis, Tennessee that is famous as the setting of the classic American ghost story. Although there are said to be as many as ten ghosts wandering the brick premises, it is young Mary that steals the hearts of patrons. Believed to be between the ages of nine and twelve, the girl was killed by a speeding car in front of the theater and supposedly greets guests and watches dress rehearsals from her favorite seat in the balcony. Masked figures and swinging doors have also regularly been reported.
10) If you’ve seen the eerie castle-like exterior of the prison in, “The Green Mile,” then you’re already familiar with this haunted horror. The Tennessee State Prison closed in 1992, shutting its doors as the location that once held high risk male criminals on death row as well as the state electric chair. The brooding building sits on the edge of Nashville, its history vibrant with prison riots and violent deaths behind the stone walls. The prison houses the ghosts of prisoners past who make themselves known with strange voices and disembodied footsteps.
Strap on your adventure boots and bring a camera, everyone. If you’re going to run into a Tennessee ghost you want to be prepared to snap that shot quick – and run. Happy haunting.