In honor of Halloween, we wanted to tell you about some of the spookiest places in our state. Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, there’s no doubt that these places have tragic histories. Like many other states, Tennessee has a history filled with war, slavery and torment that no doubt contributes to some spooky landmarks. If you’re brave enough, perhaps you can decide for yourself whether the stories are true or if they’re just imaginations run wild.
- Bell Witch Cave in Adams, TN
You guys have probably all at least heard about this one or seen the movie. It’s actually known as one of the most haunted places in America. Rumor has it that the Bell family was haunted by a witch who had it out for them. The witch was believed to be a former neighbor of the Bell’s, Kate Batts. No one knows for sure what led her to haunt the Bell family.
She’d torment the family by slapping them, waking them in the night, whispering to them etc. The witch is even said to prevent a Bell daughter from marrying her lover. The 7th president, Andrew Jackson, once stayed at the house and was quoted as saying, “I’d rather fight the entire British Army than to deal with the Bell Witch.” After the Bells died, the witch is said to have disappeared from the house, but many think she still haunts the cave on their property. You can tour the cave and cabin for $18 if you’re eager to investigate.
- Wheatlands Plantation in Sevierville, TN
The Wheatlands Plantation was built in 1825 by the Chandler family. From freak accidents and natural deaths to bloody murders, at least 70 people have died in the home since its construction. Blood stains can still be spotted in the house today. The house that stands today isn’t the first structure to stand there. The previous house burnt to the ground killing four young children.
It’s not just the house that has history at the plantation nearly 70 slaves and 30 Native Americans are buried on property. Many people believe the plantation must be haunted with such a tragic and gruesome past. The last owners of the home opened it to visitors in 2011 and reported strange occurrences in the home. However, the house has since been permanently closed and now appears to be for sale.
- Tennessee State Prison in Nashville, TN
This prison opened in 1898 and closed in 1992. It now sits abandoned. The prison was home to riots, escapes and deaths. To this day, the old electric chair nicknamed “Old Sparky” sits alone in an empty room.
There have been reports of cell doors slamming on their own, the mysterious sound of footsteps and cold spots throughout. Despite the prison’s spooky occurrences, it might be most famous as the filming location for the popular movie The Green Mile after the prison closed. But don’t go trying to explore the prison. It’s closed to the public without special permission and is structurally unsound, but you can click the link to explore some eerie photos of the abandoned building.
- Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, TN
The Orpheum was built in 1928 after the Grand Opera House that stood there before burnt to the ground. This theatre’s most famous ghost is that of Mary, a 12-year-old girl who died in an accident in front of the Grand Opera House. She’s often said to be found in her favorite seat, C5, enjoying the shows. There are reports of other spirits in the theatre as well, but most are considered benevolent. If you want to try seeing Mary for yourself, the Orpheum is open for shows year-round.
- Carnton Plantation in Franklin, TN
The Carnton house was built in 1892 by a former mayor of Nashville. The home served as a lovely quite family home for many years until November of 1864. On November 30, the Civil War encroached upon Franklin and the Battle of Franklin began, known one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.
After the battle, the Carnton home served as one of the largest Confederate field hospitals, treating over 300 injured soldiers. Within the first night, 150 of those soldiers died within the home. Four Confederate generals were laid on the back porch to be treated there and ultimately died there. The blood stains of their bodies can still be seen. Later, the family had the graves of the soldiers relocated to their property.
There have been reports from people who have seen soldiers roaming the grounds, a young servant in the kitchen and the ghost of one of the generals who lost his life there. Some also say you can see the lady of the house, Caroline McGavock, roaming the home. A Nashville paranormal investigative team has published photos claiming they contain images of ghosts on the front porch.
If you want to visit, the house is open daily for tours, and the grounds even serve as an venue for weddings and other events.
- Shiloh National Military Park in Shiloh, TN
Now a National Park, Shiloh was home to the Battle of Shiloh. The singular battle caused more casualties than all of America’s pervious wars combined with 23,746 soldiers left dead. With that amount of death, it’s no wonder people claim the park is haunted.
Among the odd occurrences at Shiloh, people say you can hear gun and canon fire. Others say that the pond sometimes appears red from the blood washed in it. In a primitive cabin, people say you can see a young boy fleeing from the loft and running away. Ghosts or no ghosts, a trip to this park is worth it to see an important part of U.S. history.
Photo by: Dinesh Weerapurage
- Ghost House Trail in Big Ridge State Park, TN
Perhaps there’s nothing spookier than the thought of encountering a ghost in the woods, but that might happen in Big Ridge State Park. The 1.2 mile Ghost House Trail loop takes you past the Norton Cemetery where previous residents of the area are buried. Many claim you can see ghostly figures in photos taken in front of the cemetery. You’ll also pass the remains of the Maston’s “Ghost House” home that was thought to be haunted. Others say they’ve encountered a specter of a panting dog on the trail.
While at the state park, you can check out some of the many other trails as well. On Indian Rock Trail, you’ll find a plaque commemorating the location where Peter Graves was scalped and killed by Native Americans while turkey hunting. You’ll have to hike these trails yourself to find out if they’re truly haunted.
- Read House Hotel in Chattanooga, TN
The Read House Hotel sits on the previous site of the Crutchfield House, which served as a Union hospital during the Civil War. In 1867, the house burned to the ground, and the Read House Hotel was built in its place. It officially opened on New Year’s Day of 1872, and it was truly luxurious. The hotel that stands today is not the original one. The original hotel was demolished in 1926 and completely rebuilt to resemble the former one.
While once might experience ghostly activity all over the hotel, from strange sounds, shadowy figures and cold breezes, there’s one room specifically that’s thought to be quite haunted. Room 311. In the 1920s, Annalisa Netherly was found dead in the bathtub of 311 with her throat slit. Some believe that Annalisa cheated on her lover and her death was his revenge. Others believe she committed suicide after her lover abandoned her for another woman.
Guests that stay in the room report a feeling of being watched, and its rumored that Annalisa’s spirit dislikes men, particularly those that smoke. Want to put the rumors to the test? You can stay in Room 311 of the Read House if you request it ahead of time.
Make sure you don’t set out on a ghost hunting adventure unprepared. The unexpected can happen when spooks are involved. Elliott’s now carries medical emergency kits and SOL (survive outdoors longer) survival gear. From whistles to heat blankets to gauze, you can stay prepared on any of your adventures.