The Ghosts of East Tennessee
Sensors zero in on other worldly vibes. High tech cameras scan the shadows for a hint of paranormal activity.
Haunted Knoxville Tours is the real deal when the deal is the undead.
“We have five ‘Ground Zeroes,’” explains J-Adam Smith, the founder and director of Haunted Knoxville. “We give those taking the tour the equipment and tell them how to use it. Then we just go to those spots and start looking. People who take the tour tell me it’s the thrill of a lifetime.”
He says the tour involves walking about a mile along downtown streets in search of the city’s many wayward spirits. Like most southern towns Knoxville has plenty. In fact the city is a haunting haven.
Spooky places include nearly every dorm on the University of Tennessee campus, the historic Bijou Theater, the Baker-Peters House and Patrick Sullivan’s Saloon in the Old City. Even Lawson McGhee Library has a presence floating about on the second floor.
The ghosts at the Baker-Peters House are feisty. Suspected of being the spirits of Civil War-era doctor, Harvey Baker, and his son, Abner, the spooks are known to fling objects against walls, stamp their feet, swipe stuff, and hide things around the house. I had a skeptical friend who spent the night at the Patrick Sullivan’s building and watched a glass go flying off the bar and smash against a wall. Mysterious shadowy figures inhabit Knoxville cemeteries, particularly the one at First Presbyterian Church and Old Gray Cemetery.
Storytellers in Cleveland combine a ghastly dose of history and mystery on the Fort Hill Cemetery Tour on Oct. 28 and the Mystery and Folklore Tour on Oct. 29-30. Lantern-lit tours in Historic Rugby parade past the Druid’s Bonfire at the old Tabard Inn site. Ghost sightings are reported by visitors who stay at the village’s Newbury House Bed and Breakfast. The Halloween Ghostly Gathering is set for Oct. 27.
Ghost tales swirl around hikes at Big Ridge State Park in Maynardville, slated for Oct. 26-27. The 1.2-mile hike directed by ranger Sarah Nicley takes visitors past a graveyard and the foundation of a house, both said to be brimming with mysterious sightings. Ranger Derek Wilson says folks there call ghosts “haints.” “They say they see haints up by that graveyard all the time,” he says.
Chill-seekers get the willies while wandering through the haunted forests at Davy Crockett State Park in Limestone for a heart-stopping experience on Oct. 26. On Oct. 25, storytellers will spin tales of strange and scary events at the 200-year-old Carter Mansion at the Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area in Elizabethton.
Kingsport gets downright scary on Oct. 27 for its annual “Boo on Broad” spook fest on Broad Street with storytellers and paranormal experts offering tales while visitors are still tingling from a tour through the narrow alleyways and dark buildings of downtown.
Ruby Falls Haunted Cavern is into its ninth edition with haunting events Oct.26, 27, 28 and 31. It’s advertised as No. 6 on Rand McNally’s national haunt list. Even its website scares me.