Haunted houses full of smoke machines and jump scares are fun, but where are the real ghosts in Nashville? According to ghost hunters and popular ghost tours in town, they roam everywhere from the banks of the Cumberland River to the farmlands of rural Tennessee and beyond
Here are four of our favorite “haunted” locations in Nashville.
Bell Witch Cave
Tales of the Bell Witch have circulated in the Tennessee hills for so long, it was once rumored that Andrew Jackson himself cowered away from her home near Adams, Tenn. In most retellings, the spirit of Kate Batts began haunting wealthy homeowner John Bell in 1817 after the Bell family broke up her engagement. When Bell died in 1821, rumors flew that the witch poisoned him and sang lively drinking songs at his funeral. The Bell home has since been destroyed, but intrepid visitors can visit her alleged home at the nearby Bell Witch Cave. The Tennessean sent two reporters to stay the night there in 1987, but after hearing an inexplicable and “unwavering groan,” they turned tail and elected to spend the night somewhere safer.
From the archives: Haunted Bell Witch Cave sent two ‘brave’ Tennessean staffers fleeing in 1986
Union Station Hotel
Union Station once served as a shipping off point for hundreds of American soldiers in WWII — and a reunion spot for soldiers at war’s end. The building is now a luxury hotel, but staff say at least one woman is still waiting for her soldier lover to come home. Abigail, a young woman whose husband died in the war, is said to roam the hotel halls, causing mischief for staff and guests.
Eternal life at Union Station:Spirits of the past live on in America’s best haunted hotel
Tennessee State Prison
Founded in 1898, the Tennessee State Prison housed thousands of prisoners before closing in 1992 due to overcrowding and inhumane conditions. The prison hosted 125 executions, many by electric chair, and urban legend says the spirits of those executed prisoners still roam the long-abandoned halls. Hollywood studios have cashed in on the building’s ghostly atmosphere, using it as a shooting location for films such as “The Green Mile” and “Walk the Line.”
Two Rivers Mansion
Construction at the ornate Two Rivers Mansion began in 1859 but was not completed until 1870 due to the Civil War. The antebellum estate house, now used for weddings and other special events, was home to the wealthy McGavock family until Mary Louise Bransford McGavock died in 1965. Her spirit allegedly lingers in the well-furnished halls, where staff report seeing a lady in a white dress wreaking havoc on the appliances and furniture. Some stories say the house was built on a burial ground for Native Americans or Civil War soldiers — or both, depending on the storyteller — and that those spirits remain.
Cole Villena covers business at The Tennessean, part of the USA Today Network — Tennessee. Reach Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-925-0493. Follow Cole on Twitter at @ColeVillena and on Instagram at @CVinTennessee.