Today, we look at the spookier side of Tennessee. Once home to prisoners, soldiers or just regular folks, these spots are now home to ghosts and creatures.
And, all these stories are unverified, like all good ghost stories, but you might want to have the lights on for this read.
8 Haunted Places in Tennessee
Tennessee State Prison in Nashville, TN
Tour and information: The Tennessee State Prison Historical Society is dedicated to preserving the historic Tennessee State Prison in Nashville Tennessee, however, due to its declining state, the prison is no longer open for tours (although it is still actively utilized by the The Tennessee Department of Correction). You can follow the preservation efforts here, and you can take a peek inside by watching this drone film by Those Drones.
Located just minutes away from downtown Nashville, the Tennessee State Prison closed its doors in 1992. You might recognize it as the setting for movies such as The Green Mile, Ernest Goes to Jail and The Last Castle, but it is more widely known for its prison breaks, riots, fires and the inhumane conditions. Built in 1889, the prison has a rich history. The capital punishment facility housed the assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Johnny Cash played for inmates in 1968; more than 100 prisoners were executed using “Old Sparky” (the state electric chair); and 800 cells were built and soon overcrowded.
Best ghost story: There is not just one ghost that haunts this old prison … Instead, all of those whose lives were taken by “Old Sparky” seem to roam the halls causing visitors to hear sounds, voices and footsteps.
Wheatlands Plantation in Sevierville, TN
Tours and information: You can tour the historic home, and ghost tours are also offered. History tours cost $15 per person, and history and ghost walk tours cost $20 per person. These guided tours take about 1.5 to 2 hours. Call (865) 365-1052 for information and to make an appointment.
At Wheatlands Plantation, there is good reason for the hauntings — more than 70 people have been murdered in this house, battles during the Revolutionary War and Civil War were fought here, it is estimated that 28 Cherokees were killed at the Battle of Boyd’s Creek (which runs adjacent to the property) during the Revolutionary War, and there are approximately 69 slaves and two Revolutionary War soldiers buried on the property. That is a lot of death associated with this one house.
Best ghost story: You might spot blood stains in the home’s parlor. After the owner of the estate left Wheatland Plantation to her grandson, his jealous father confronted him and in turn was murdered by his son with an iron poker. Although the floors have been cleaned numerous times, the bloodstains keep returning.
Meeman-Shelby Forest in Germantown, TN
Tours and information: Learn about the park and its many amenities here.
This state park, which boasts more then 13,000 acres, sits along the Mississippi River. From hiking trails to camping sites, the park invites outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the beauty and nature of the area. Usually the forest is peaceful and inviting … until the sun goes down. After dark, in addition to the 200 species of songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds and birds of prey, Pigman, who has a pig-like face and is said to haunt the wooded area of the park, roams the land.
Best ghost story: Although no one has gotten close enough to Pigman to look him in the eye, campers have claimed to see him roaming around late at night — so be sure to pack your flashlight if you camp out!
Shiloh National Park in Shiloh, TN
Tours and information: Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the year. For more information see the Shiloh National Park website.
There were more than 23,000 casualties in the Battle of Shiloh, which occurred on April 6-7, 1862. At the time, this was more than the combined casualties of all of the previous American wars combined. Forty-thousand Confederate troops surprised the Federal troops near Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River. The Union soldiers were able to hold their line under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant and were reinforced the next day, giving them the advantage over the struggling and weakened Confederates. After losing their commander, General Albert Sidney Johnston, on April 6, the Confederates new commander, General P.G.T. Beauregard, was forced to retreat, thus ending the battle in a Union victory.
Best ghost story: There are many accounts of seeing the pond colored blood red throughout the year. It’s supposedly the same pond that injured soldiers from both sides came to bathe wounds during this awful battle, and it was thus filled with blood from injured soldiers and horses. However, there is not solid evidence that this same pond existed in 1862. Now, for all the soldiers that people have run into at night … that’s the stuff scary ghost stories are made from … and there are plenty of these accounts!
Bell Witch Cave in Adams, TN
Tours and information: Special tours are available by appointment only. Call for details at (615) 696-3055. Daytime cave tours of the Bell Witch Cave are available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The last tour of the day starts around 4:15 p.m. Cave tours are $12 per person, and cave and cabin tours are $18. Check out the special Halloween schedule here.
All because of a land dispute, Kate Batts (a neighbor of John Bell) promised to haunt John and his descendants — and that she did. Betsy Ball, John’s daughter, was tormented by the Bell Witch during her childhood, but the witch could be felt by all. Even Andrew Jackson was quoted as saying, “I had rather face the entire British Army than to spend another night with the Bell Witch.”
It is believed that after John Bell died of a strange illness and the Witch threatened Betsy against marrying Joshua Gardner, the neighbor boy she loved, the Witch retired to the Bell Witch Cave — perhaps the place that allowed her to enter the world.
Best ghost story: “A few years ago, while conducting research for a script that would later become The Bell Witch Haunting, I was walking near the opening of the cave on the Bell property with a fellow writer. We were walking right beside each other with no one else around. Everything was quiet, when suddenly we heard a woman angrily whisper over our shoulders, right in our ears, ‘What are you doing here?!’ We both quickly turned, (and) no one was there!” — Ric White, writer & director of the movie The Bell Witch Haunting on BellWitchStory.com
Carnton Plantation in Franklin, TN
Tours and information: Tour the home and grounds Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For the classic tour, adults are $15, children ages 6 to 12 are $8 and children under 6 are free.
One of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War took place less than a mile from Carnton Mansion in Franklin, TN, on November 30, 1864. The Confederate Army of Tennessee attacked the Federal Army’s quickly fortified position, and The Battle of Franklin ensued resulting in enormous casualties. The frontal assault was larger than Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. Lasting only one evening, these few hours resulted in over 8,500 casualties. Over 6,000 casualties were Confederate troops, and this battle saw the greatest loss of Confederate generals compared to any other battle in the Civil War.
Carnton’s proximity made it the perfect spot to serve as a field hospital during this battle. The bodies of four Confederate generals — Patrick Cleburne, John Adams, Otho F. Strahl and Hiram B. Granbury — were laid out on the back porch, and the blood stains of the men treated there are still able to be seen today.
Best ghost story: “Spirits of the fallen are especially active in the autumn months, at dusk. One general isn’t able to rest, because he knew that his men wouldn’t hold up too well and is still fretting about the coming battle he knew would be a bloodbath. This spirit, General Pat Cleburne, a man with a mustache, a short beard and piercing eyes, paces the back porch, walks around the outside parameter of the mansion, and on occasion talks to lone persons.” — hauntedhouses.com
Orpheum Theater in Memphis, TN
For tickets to upcoming shows, see the Orpheum Theater website.
Opened in 1928, the Orpheum Theater now has 2,308 seats and was one of the first buildings in Memphis to be put on the National Register of Historic Places. It is built on the same site as the Grand Opera House, which was lost in a devastating fire in 1923. The Orpheum is widely regarded for its opulent, architectural beauty and is widely beloved by the Memphis community. It is the Mid-South home to traveling Broadway productions.
Best ghost story: The best known ghost (out of six who apparently live at the Orpheum) is Mary, the spirit of a 12-year-old girl who shows up frequently. The most famous person to observe her was Yul Brynner when he was rehearsing for The King & I in 1982. She is widely described as having long, braided, brown hair and wearing a white dress, and she is often observed in the balcony in seat CF.
Cragfont in Castalian Springs
Tours and information: Open seasonally from April 15 to November 1 or by appointment. Adult tickets are $5, and discounted tickets for seniors and children are available. For more information, see the website.
General James Winchester built this home on the Tennessee frontier during the years 1798 to 1802 and it was regarded as the finest home around, with stylish Georgian architecture, stenciling on the parlor walls and beautiful gardens and views of the rolling countryside. It also boasts the first ballroom on the second floor of a home on the Tennessee frontier. With as old as this house is, there are many stories of oddities occurring there, including country star Conway Twitty leaving the house after insisting that things were being thrown at him. There are stories of apparitions being caught on film and video as well.
Best ghost story: There are several accounts of seeing candlelight in the windows at night when no one is there. And, the stories of an uneasy presence in the nursery are to be aware of if you tour the home! Gloria, on hauntedplaces.com, says,”[I] was at Cragfont many years ago and saw the ghost of General Winchester staring at me from a second story closed balcony in the back of the house as I was sitting in the cemetery. My best friend was with me, and she asked if I knew why he was so angry with me. Yes, it is haunted, and though most of the house was comfortable, being in the upstairs nursery was not a pleasant experience for me.”
We hope you have a safe — and spooky — Halloween!
For more Southern spots to visit, click here.