When we think of Tennessee, we often think of music first. You might be surprised to hear the state is home to many of the scariest places in the US. We’ve compiled a terrifyingly grand list of the 11 scariest haunted places in Tennessee for your October fright-night enjoyment.
With a heavy history of murder, death, and destruction, there is no wonder the Wheatland Plantation is listed as one of the most haunted locations in Tennessee. Located just off of Boyd’s Creek Highway outside of Sevierville, the home you will visit is actually the second home to be built on the property. The first burned to the ground shortly after Christmas in 1825, consuming four young lives with it; three of which were the original owners grand-daughters. Reports of a child-like presence in a basement room are common. A mass grave (which holds an estimated 28 Cherokee Indians, 68 African slaves, and two Revolutionary War soldiers) is reported to be located just behind the establishment. This might explain the chanting and singing some ghost hunters have successfully recorded on voice boxes while visiting the location. With over 70 reported murders and blood smears still present on walls, this is sure to be a hair-raising place to visit.
Native American war cries, chanting, and ominous black figures are just a few of the creepy encounters you may have if you choose to visit this terrifying Tennessee location. Constructed in 1905 along the Tennessee river in an effort to tame the whirlpool, the Hales Bar Marina and Dam was hated by Native Americans and even cursed. If local folklore is to be believe, then you don’t get too close or you may get sucked in and drown. The marina offers haunted tours. Be prepared as individuals have reported seeing ghostly figures that appear to be Native Americans circling in the waters, as well as a young girl in a pink dress. Legend has it the girl was killed at the dam and her remains are still held captive within the dam.
One of the most widely-recognized haunted locations, the Bell Witch Cave is steeped in folklore. The story is based on a feud between two neighbors. John Bell lived next to a woman named Kate Batts. The woman reportedly tortured Bell’s daughter, Betsy, during several years of her childhood. Batts believed she had been cheated in a land deal by Bell and swore an oath on her deathbed to haunt the Bell family for all eternity. The story was so widely recognized even future president Andrew Jackson took note while he was still a general. He and some of his troops spent a night at the Bell Farm. Afterward, he was quoted as saying: “I had rather face the entire British Army than to spend another night with the Bell Witch.” In fact, the home became so famous it had to be torn down due to safety reasons. Today, many artifacts have been preserved and you can visit the notoriously-terrifying cave where reports of strange-looking animals, chains rattling, and knocking persist.
Carnton Mansion’s spacious front porch overlooks a graveyard where more than 1700 Confederate soldiers were hastily buried following a bloody battle. Not long after the encounter, the mansion was converted into a hospital in which four Generals died of their wounds. The staff held their bodies so those who were lucky enough to survive the carnage could pay due respects. Expect to see visions of ghostly images resembling Confederate soldiers roaming the grounds in the late evenings. Inside the home, reports of young child playing tricks are common. People say they are the spirits of the Carnton children; only two of the five offspring survived to adulthood. Many believe there is a spirit of a young girl who was murdered by a jealous suitor. Other individuals have reporting seeing and hearing the head cook who worked for the family during the Civil War. She just can’t seem to leave her duties in the kitchen behind. One worker was greeted by a beautiful young woman with long, flowing dark hair as he made his way down the second-floor hallway. He made a hasty retreat and now workers only visit the second floor in pairs. With so many sightings, it is no wonder this house has been named the most haunted in all of Tennessee.
Love, despair, and diabolical evil fill this house with leftover spirits who just can’t leave the pain of their lives. Built in 1818 by a wealthy reverend, Rev. Frederick Ross, the home was meant to be a sanctuary, but would soon turn into a prison of terrible of memories. Ross’ daughter, Rowena, would suffer the unimaginable: watching her fiance drown in the nearby river the day of their wedding. Retreating into solitude, it would be several years before the woman would open her heart again. This time, yellow fever would snatch her love away within a year of their nuptials. A final attempt at love would arrive ten years later, even bringing a beautiful baby girl into Rowena’s life. This, too, would be snatched away by the grisly claws of death; after which, Rowena gave up and drowned herself in the same waters in which began her terrible trail of tears. She can still be seen today wandering the property in a flowing white dress searching for the first love she lost. The property would later fall into the hands of a cruel slave owner, leaving behind reports of a ghastly black dog wandering the grounds, howls in the late night moonlight, terrifying laughter in the dark, and ghostly eyes peeing through windows.
Intended to be a utopian community, the Rugby colony was the brain child of Thomas Hughes. Hughes, born in 1880 in Uffington, Berkshire, England, first visited the United States in the 1870s while on a speaking tour encouraging the healing of the rift left after the American Civil War. Seeing the grand opportunities available, he returned home to bring his sons back with him to create a community in which the younger sons of Britain could build a strong, agricultural community, while maintaining a Christian lifestyle, free of the class distinctions in their homeland. At first, the community flourished, playing home to over 300 residents living in some 70 Victorian-style homes. Unfortunately, the transition would be much more difficult than Hughes could have imagined. Following a typhoid outbreak, the community began to falter until 1900, when the majority of the residents fled the grounds. The remaining community members worked to keep the Rugby dream alive, and in 1966 formed Historic Rugby. With so much death, hauntings should be expected. Guests staying in the Newbury House, particularly in room 2, say they are often awakened by a ghostly male figure standing over them, especially single female guests. Rumor has it the man is Mr. Oldfield, a gentleman who was sent to report on the Rugby colony’s progress in the 1880s. He fell in love with the area and sent for his family, but feel ill and died before they arrived. Take your chances staying in the halls of these beautiful houses, but don’t be surprised if you have a visitor in the night.
This location is anything but a haven of rest. Sitting nearby is a home in which a slave owner once lived. Rumor has it that a slave raped the slave owner’s daughter and she became pregnant. In a fit of rage, the man killed the slave. Individuals report seeing the slave wandering the grounds in search of his lost child. When approaching the house, people have said they have seen bluish-green auras emerge and cascade along the walls. One report said as they retreated from the home, a gravel pelted the back window of their vehicle; interestingly, they were on a paved road with no gravel
Built in 1898, the Tennessee State Prison has been home to not only prisoners, but also many actors. The prison was the site of such notorious films as The Green Mile and Ernest Goes to Jail. The prison’s notoriety can be attributed to its many attempted jail breaks, riots, and overcrowding. Today, individuals report strange noises: cell doors closing, extreme cold spots, and footsteps. A man who was a guard in 1985 gave a grisly report of hearing footsteps outside of the tower he was assigned to on a nightshift; but when he looked out the windows of the tower, there was nobody around. When the corporal arrived, they found footprints encircling the tower that didn’t match any of the boots in the area. When they went back into the tower, there, behind his chair, were a set of the same boot-prints. Perhaps it was from a guard still maintaining his post even after his post on this earth had expired?
A little girl named Mary has been a patron of the Orpheum Theatre for over sixty years, ever since she was killed by a car on nearby Beale Street. The original building was built in 1923, but burned to the ground in 1928. Mary doesn’t seem to mind the building has changed and can often be seen sitting in her favorite seat, C-5. With a mischevious side, Mary can often be heard quietly giggling, opening and closing doors, and running up and down the aisles. Some actors aren’t so fond of the theatre’s resident ghost. The 1979 cast of Fiddler on the Roof were so convinced Mary was present, they demanded a seance to try and contact her. Theatres are notorious for their paranormal crews, why would the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis be any different?
Brother’s James and George Winchester built the original Cragfont, a small log cabin, in 1785. The second Cragfont, a home that once stood as the greatest house west of the Appalachians, was finished in 1802. James Winchester was a brigadier general in the War of 1812, alongside Andrew Jackson. It seems like Jackson had a thing for haunted locations and those associated with them. In the years that passed after the construction of the mansion, it suffered vandalism at the hands of Union soldiers; but, ultimately, survived to the present day. Today, you can stay in the mansion and enjoy the beautiful surroundings, as well as the numerous ghouls who still call the property home. Reports of James Winchester still roaming the halls are common. Many guests say they have seen candles light on their own, seen objects move without being touched, and apparitions (which have been caught on film and video). Conway Twitty once stayed at Cragfont and left in a haste after objects were being thrown at him by an unknown assailant. Are the ghosts of Cragfont not fans of country music? Why not play a few notes the next time you stay and see who comes out to dance.
In 1970, a tragedy occurred when a group of developers bulldozed an area along the Harpeth River, which included portions of Metro Nashville, Davidson County, and Pegram, Cheatham County. The fact the land was bulldozed wasn’t the tragedy. It was the destruction of the family cemetery on the property. Dirt from the land was sold as fill dirt and sprinkled throughout the two counties. In 1975, the river waters rose and the homes built on the land were flooded. During the flood, one of the last remaining coffins floated to the surface. The developers had failed to move some of those who had been laid to rest on the original property. The coffin held the remains of the town’s first postmistress, Mrs. Carrie Pegram Heath. Since those days, the area has flooded several times and is plagued with problems. Although we may not associate money problems with the paranormal, the town has failed to escape the financial hardships associated with the seemingly-cursed land. The fire department has reported fires that will start again even after they have been extinguished. Residents still claim tombstones stand like stark reminders in yards and there is an evil in the air which is unmistakable. If you’re in the area, why not go for a walk.? Maybe you’ll find the remains of others still waiting to be found after greed stole the only memories of their existence.
If you’re on your way south, swing through Tennessee. They have plenty to offer in the way of paranormal excitement. Maybe you can solve some of the mysteries, or maybe the mysteries will make a believer out of you.