When reading the recently published list of the safest towns in the state of Tennessee, it is almost like reading a who’s who of Haunted Tennessee Hotspots for the state. While the connection with these towns being on both lists is a coincidence, it is a reminder as to how haunted this area is. With serving as the gateway to the western during the frontier times and to the south during the Civil War, the state has seen its share of people pass through and pass away throughout its lands. Take a tour of the Volunteer State with Ghost Hunters Fan, and together, let us visit some of the safest and yet most haunted cities Tennessee has to offer.
Portland – The Big South Tunnel
This small town located in northern, middle Tennessee was once one of the leading producers of strawberries in the country. Evidence of this former existence can be seen throughout the town by both the constant references to this crop as well as the train tracks that dot its landscape. These tracks were once used to move the berries to locations throughout the United States and once connected to both a depot as well as multiple warehouses and tunnels. One of these is the Big South Tunnel, where it is claimed that phantoms lights can be seen that mimic those of an old fashion lantern.
Some claim that this is the light from a railroad workers who was checking to ensure the tracks were clear when struck by the train he was attempting to protect. Others allege that the light belongs to a lady in white who is awaiting her lover’s return and passed away from grief when he never arrived.
Whatever the cause, many have claimed to see the light inside the tunnel, along the tracks, as well as in the yards and fields within close vicinity both of these. The phantom light appears at random weather conditions, dates, and times.
The Big South Tunnel is still in use and entering the tunnel and walking on the tracks is a very unsafe activity. Other areas associated with the tale are private property and require permission before visiting.
Oak Ridge- The Alexander Inn
Oak Ridge is found in the eastern portion of Tennessee and played an ever important role in the outcome of World War II. A portion of the top secret Manhattan Project was carried out here. Facilities were built and workers were gathered to create the Uranium used in the first atomic bombs. The Alexander Inn, also known as the Guest House, was built in 1943 to accommodate high ranking members of the project that were visiting from other sites. It maintained this role until after the war. It then continued to provide shelter for travelers as well as becoming an event venue
During its time in operation, there was nothing recorded that would account for the strange occurrences that many claim to happen here now. It is stated that apparitions can be seen peering out of curtains when the structure is unoccupied. Footfalls can be heard pacing in the upstairs rooms when no one present. The most alarming of the claims is that blood can appear on the walls as if they are bleeding. Maybe the haunting it tied to the hotel’s guests’ projects and the destruction that was delivered by their Fat Man and Little Boy.
The Alexander Inn is now a Senior Living Facility and is private property.
Sevierville – Wheatlands Plantation
Sevierville is a small, peaceful town in the foothills of Tennessee’s majestic Smoky Mountains. Building on land taken from the Cherokee in a 1785 as part of the Treaty of Dumplin Creek, the city was originally called the Forks of the Little Pigeon but was quickly changed to Sevierville in honor of frontiersman John Sevier, who fought the Battle of Boyd’s Creek. This battle was fought on the ground where Wheatlands stands today and is first in its long tale of death and murder.
Twenty-eight Cherokee died that day and were placed in a mass grave. Eight individuals, including four little girls, passed as the first home built upon this land was destroyed by fire in 1825. Two ladies have passed on the staircase; one in 1888 from a heart attack and the second in 1932 from a broken neck after falling down the stairs. Bloodstains can be seen on the front parlor floor where a father was killed by his son in 1942. It is claimed that 70 people have passed within the house and many more on the property.
With this many deaths, it is no surprise that stories of many paranormal instances stream from this location. Shadows shift in an unexplainable fashion as well as shadow people can be seen throughout. Indians can be heard chanting. Rocks have been thrown at paranormal investigators. Women can be heard talking in the summer kitchen. Footfalls are heard moving about in empty rooms. It seems that with so much tragedy, that some of those who passed so horrifically on these grounds can not, or will not, move on.
Wheatlands Plantation is a private residence but is open for tours, both historical and paranormal. The owners sometimes permit paranormal investigations to be conducted on the property.
Maryville – Maryville College
Lying between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the metropolis of Knoxville is the city of Maryville. The city was founded in 1785 and was a haven for abolishment activity. Maryville created the perfect environment for the Presbyterian Church to open a college and did so in 1819. With Maryville being the twelfth oldest college in the south, there is no wonder that almost every building on campus as a ghost story associated with it.
The oldest of these stories is Whiskers who resides in the Anderson Hall. Whiskers was first discussed openly in a story written for the school paper, and at the time, it was unclear if his existence was a fact or a bit of fiction. Soon after, students began admitting to seeing Whiskers within the dormitory and do so even today. Witnesses can not agree on whether he is a night watchman or a Civil War soldier, but it is clear that he is elderly, missing a leg, and on a mission to find his missing appendage.
There is also Lily, who is claimed to haunt the old Maryville College Theatre. She was a girl who wanted to be an actress but was forced to work behind the scenes. It is said that she is still seen walking along in the catwalks, glaring longingly on the stage that she so wished to grace. Then there is the lost soul who committed suicide in the Pearson Dining Hall when it was a dormitory, and Mrs. Walker, the lady in white who can be seen peering out the windows in the House in the Woods.
Maryville College is a private college. But as most places of higher learning, it is open to guests.
Franklin – Carnton Plantation
Franklin once was a bedroom community of Nashville but is becoming a thriving city of its own right. Founded in 1799, the city was a small, quiet one mainly made up of farmland until the Civil War blasted its way through the city. While battle first visited the city in 1863, it was not until November of the following year that the residents of the town would live through the five bloodiest hours of the war. With 10,000 casualties, the number of men in need of medical care was seemingly endless. Forty Four buildings within the community became makeshift hospitals, and one of these was Carnton Plantation. The actual number of men who sought medical care at the home is unknown, but it was the largest of all the building dedicated to the cause. It is said the limbs removed from the wounded reached the second floor window and that it was almost impossible to walk for the bodies lining the floor. The floors in the home is still stained with blood as well as the front porch where four of the six Confederate generals that passed that day were laid out.
With so much violence and agony penetrated upon a spot of ground in such a short period of time, it is no wonder that the home has gained the title of the most haunted location in the state. It said that a soldier can be seen sitting in the back parlor playing the fiddle. He can be both seen and heard by those who come across him. The sounds of horses approaching can be heard of the cobble stones in the front of the house. Confederate soldiers can be seen walking throughout the house as well as generals seen pacing on the porch and riding on horseback in the cemetery accompanying the grounds. The family and staff who lived and worked in the home at the time of the battle are still lingering. This includes a woman in white, a cook in the winter kitchen, and even the mistress of the house, Carrie McGavock. It is told that there are members of the local sheriff’s department that do not wish to take alarm calls from the home because of fear of who they will see.
Carnton Plantation, along with its other surviving homes turned hospitals, the Lotz and Carter Houses are currently museums that are open for tours daily with the occasional ghost tour. The Lotz and Carter Houses are also claimed to have spirits lingering from the war.
While this is far from all the haunts that Tennessee has to offer, one can be ensured that by visiting these locations that a it will be a safe and spooy trip. It is a lovely area that is just lucky enough to have a lot of spirits hanging around. With an area so nice, why shouldn’t they?
Let Ghost Hunters Fans know what you think. Leave your comments below…
BethAnn Williams, Paranormal Journalist, Ghost Hunter at Large, and native Tennessean, is happy to be continuing her role at Ghost Hunters Fans and looks forward to sharing tales of the paranormal with you in the upcoming year.