There are plenty of spooky tales of ghosts and haunted places in Tennessee to keep you awake at night. These hotbeds of paranormal activity are steeped in folklore and superstitions.
1. Loretta Lynn Ranch, Hurricane Mills
Hurricane Mills Plantation, now known as Loretta Lynn Ranch, was the former scene of a Civil War battle that claimed the lives of 19 Confederate soldiers. When country music star Loretta Lynn and her family purchased the estate, they soon began having ghostly encounters. Doors opened and closed by themselves. Her twin daughters would wake in the middle of the night to see the spirits of women dressed in period costumes moving about their bedroom.
The Queen of country music had her own encounters. One spirit is a crying woman, that the singer sees moving about the house and family graveyard. It's believed that the spirit is Beula Anderson, whose baby died. Loretta's son once woke to find a Confederate soldier standing at the foot of his bed, staring down at him.
Other instances of apparitions and the sound of chains dragging along the porch outside make this a very active site. Lynn and friends even met the spirit of the original owner during a séance that quickly became violent, when the angry ghost lifted the table and sent it crashing to the floor. Loretta and her family eventually built a home elsewhere and moved out of the haunted mansion. The Loretta Lynn Ranch is a top tourist attraction that offers several tours of the estate. You may bump into a ghost or two during your visit.
2. Franklin Battlefield, Franklin
The Franklin Battlefield and surrounding area are especially active with paranormal and supernatural phenomena. Reports of phantom running footfalls in the night, gunshots, sound of drums, and disembodied voices are commonplace. In fact, one visitor reportedly engaged in a long conversation with a Confederate officer who he mistook for a re-enactment participant.
With 1,700 Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery, it's not surprising so many of their spirits are seen moving about the battlefield. The ghosts of twin brothers reportedly enjoy tickling or grabbing the ankles of passersby. The ghost of a young girl runs up and down the long cemetery fence and the spirit of a lone soldier stands guard over the cemetery. The sound of marching troops can be heard from the house.
Two homes played vital roles in the 1864 Battle of Franklin during the Civil War, the Carnton Mansion and the Carter House. The Carter's eldest son, killed in the battle, is seen in the house as well as other soldiers. The toddler son died when he fell down the staircase. His spirit is often seen on the staircase.
3. The Hermitage, Nashville
The most haunted place in Nashville is The Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States. Members of The Ladies' Hermitage Association, living in the house while undertaking renovations, were startled awake one night by the sound of a horse racing up and down the upstairs hallway. The women felt the ghost horse was a message from Andrew Jackson, who had grown impatient with their efforts. The estate is now a public museum and National Historic Landmark, with its many buildings spreading over the 1,000+ acre estate.
Numerous tales of ghostly encounters haunt the estate, such as the loud banging and clanging of pots and pans coming from the kitchen. Apparitions of slaves are seen throughout the property, especially at the main house along the colonnade. The eerie sound of shuffling footfalls and chainsare some of the other sounds echoing throughout the property.
4. Fort Donnellson National Battlefield Park, Dover
Fort Donnellson National Battlefield Park in Dover, Tennessee is haunted by the ghosts of slain soldiers. Visitors to the battlefield and cemetery of this Civil War site report seeing soldiers wandering about the grounds as though in a daze. Some blame the spirits' unrest on hasty burials that didn't allow time for grave markers. Visitors report seeing a loyal ghostly soldier standing guard over the cemetery.
The phantom sounds of gunshots and cannon fire are heard. The distinct smell of gunpowder permeates the air. Screams and moans come from the cemetery. Disembodied voices and ghostly apparitions startle visitors of the Surrender House (Dover Hotel), which is part of the National Park where the Confederate Army surrendered.
5. Orpheum Theatre, Memphis
Orpheum Theatre is haunted by several ghosts. Built in 1928 to replace the former Grand Opera House, the Orpheum outlasted bankruptcies, withstood a fire, and survived the threat of demolition. It's touted as the "premiere performing arts center for the Mid-South." And, it's cast of ghosts never fail to perform.
The star of the ghostly troupe is Mary. She's also the youngest and most mischievous spirit. Mary delights in playing pranks on workers and materializing in front of patrons and actors. She is believed to be the spirit of a 12-year-old girl who died in an accident in front of the original theater. Lead actor in the hit The King and I, Yul Brynner claimed to have seen Mary in the theater.
Besides Mary, there's her spirit guide David said to be waiting patiently for Mary to decide it's time to go into the Light with him. However, Mary is having too much fun to leave the theater. Eleanor is seen in the foyer of the balcony. She isn't happy like Mary. Of course, no one knows why Eleanor is so sad, just that she's seen pouting in the balcony foyer. Other spirits are less visible, but make themselves known by opening and slamming doors or making the theater lights to flicker.
6. East Tennessee State University, Johnson City
Most college campuses have tales of ghosts and supernatural happenings, but East Tennessee State University is said to be one of the most haunted in America. the campus has several hauntings, some that have been documented over the years. Apparently, founder and president Sidney Gilbreath just couldn't leave his beloved university. His spirit is said to order students to, "Get to class." Any time there's an approaching thunderstorm, Uncle Sid, goes around the campus closing windows and doors.
The Lucille-Clements Hall is reputed to be the hotbed of the entire campus for all kinds of paranormal activity. There are several spirits living in the building. Students report seeing a young boy playing marbles. Supposedly, the child met an early death when he fell down the elevator shaft. The sound of marbles rolling and clicking into each other or falling to the floor are often heard by students in the middle of the night. A young girl enjoys turning the bathroom faucets on at all times of the day and night.
There are also the ghosts of the three people of the ill-fated plane crash of 1985. The students residing in the hall at the time were miraculously spared when the plane missed the building and crashed into the adjacent parking lot. Students blame other paranormal activity on the plane's victims. The elevator door opens and closes on its own, a man suddenly appears and then vanishes. Electronic devices malfunction. Some students report waking at night to find a woman standing by their beds staring down at them.
Another active staff member is the spirit of Professor Christina Burleson, who committed suicide to avoid being a burden to her family. Professor Burleson was ill and in her last years was confined to a wheelchair. She likes to follow students about the campus or is often seen standing to the side of a hallway or room, watching the students.
7. Sensabaugh Tunnel, Kingsport
Built in the early 1920s, the Sensabaugh Tunnel is considered one of the most haunted areas in Kingsport. It is a popular place for ghost hunters to investigate with the hope of catching an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) or capturing an apparition on camera.
Legend has it that Mr. Sensabaugh murdered his entire family and tossed their bodies in the stream that flows through the tunnel. Many witnesses claim to have heard a baby crying inside the tunnel. Spirit orbs and apparitions are also seen frequently in the area. It's said that any motorist braving the tunnel will suddenly have car problems and the engine will turn off. If the unlucky traveler gazes into their rearview mirror, they'll see the ghostly figure of Sensabaugh stomping toward the car. The car engine will then suddenly start on its own, giving the driver time to escape the menacing evil Sensabaugh ghost.
8. Capitol Records, Nashville
The Capitol Records building is said to be haunted by the two daughters of Jacob Schnell who built an enormous mansion on the site in 1900. His daughters were never accepted into the local elite society and they lived with their father until his death. The women then remained in the mansion until their own deaths. Capitol Records purchased the property, tore down the mansion and built their offices.
Capitol Records occupies the 11th floor, and it's believed the ghosts of the two sisters have taken up residence on the same floor. Employees report objects and items being moved and placed in strange areas. They report hearing footsteps in the hallways, but upon investigation they can't find anyone there. Doors open and close by themselves, previously unlocked doors are suddenly found locked, and electronic equipments often malfunction.
9. State Capitol, Nashville
The State Capitol building of Nashville, TN is haunted by the two men responsible for building of the Capitol. One of these men is the building architect, William Strickland. He was shocked and unhappy when the building funds ran out, delaying the construction for nine years. The lack of funds created arguments between Strickland and Samuel Morgan, who was in charge of the building fund. Strickland died in 1845 before the building was completed. The state built a vault inside the capitol to inter his body and eventually Morgan was also interred in the mausoleum.
Some people believe that the arguments between the two men over lack of money continue to this day with their restless spirits. Veteran police officers attest to several incidences of being called to the Capitol in response to a disturbance of the peace. Loud angry voices are heard as two men seem to be arguing and calling each other names. When the officers investigate, no one is there.
Besides the arguing ghosts, a woman dressed in an Antebellum outfit is seen strolling about the Capitol. Other ghosts include those of slaves, prisoners of war, and even a U.S. President haunt the capitol and surrounding grounds. President James K. Polk is seen kneeling by wife's tomb that rests beside his own tomb. When his tall, dark-suited figure is noticed, the President slowly vanishes.
10. Shiloh Battlefield, Shiloh
The Shiloh National Military Park is also known as The Bloody Pond. It was the place where soldiers, injured from a two-day Civil War battle in 1862, sought water. Their blood transformed the pond into a bloody pool. What happened in the area is not the only reason for the name; it's said that sometimes when the sun strikes the water, it appears to be as red as blood.
A woman in white appears to those who are sad or frightened and tries to comfort them. In the caretaker's home, the door and cabinet doors open and close by themselves. The eerie, shadowy apparitions of soldiers have been witnessed crossing the battlefield in silence. Others claim to witness the silent re-enactment of the battle by dark shadows. Various apparitions have been seen. Phantom sounds of cries, screams, yells, drumbeats, footsteps, gunfire, and horses neighing plague the battlefield
Haunted Places in Tennessee
Tennessee has many haunted places you can visit. These spooky locations are a mix of residue and intelligent hauntings.