The Ultimate Haunted Road Trip of the South
PART ONE- Through the Foothills
If you are anything like me, being cooped up inside has got you dreaming about the open road, an exciting vacation, or just getting off the Cheeto crusted couch and going outside because you’ve finished Netflix and all your quarantined snacks are gone! I’ve been spending my time writing about haunted places across the country, counting the days until I can get back to sharing these spooky stories on a Nightly Spirits Haunted Pub Tour. I have to admit, I have a pretty great job. I travel the country in search of Spirits behind the bar and beyond the grave. My paranormal research has taken me to places that most people only see in their nightmares.
Now that the world has completely changed, it is likely to be a while before we all jump on a plane and head to a crowded beach or stand in line at a packed theme park. So, I thought, what better way to enjoy your healthy freedom than with the Ultimate Haunted Road Trip of the United States!!! Then I calmed down and realized that most people don’t have the luxury to take several months to see all of these legendary locations in the Land of the Free so now what?
Divide and Conquer! I have taken all the haunted hotspots that I have visited and researched to bring you multiple haunted road trips in each region of our country. No matter where you live, you can hit the road on one of these hair-raising routes to come face to face with what haunts your neck of the woods. Each trip is 1-3 weeks long and loaded with scares. If you’re brave enough, or bored enough, when you finish one, you can keep on going. There is a current or future Nightly Spirits Haunted Pub Tour (or two, or three!) on each route so you are guaranteed to see some spirits on your journey!
First up is the sweet, spooky South. The beautiful thing about road trips is that you can be on your own schedule. The one I have suggested allows you to catch each current Nightly Spirits Tour. While there are several destinations that Nightly Spirits does not have a tour, that is only for now. We are constantly travelling and researching and drinking to bring you the next great Haunted Pub Tour!
HAUNTED NASHVILLE, TN
We begin our Ultimate Haunted Road Trip of the South in Music City. Well, pretty close to Music City. May as well start with a curse and begin our journey in a dark cave where the Bell Witch of Tennessee dwells.
Bell Witch Cave
Adams, Tennessee is about 45 minutes north of Nashville. The property and the cave were once owned by the Bell family. It was the early 1800’s and John Bell had it all. He had crops, livestock, a violent evil spirit that tormented his entire family… The American Dream, really!
Apparently, John had gotten into a land spat with his neighbor, Kate Bell who, upon her death bed, swore to haunt him from the grave. And boy, did she. The entire Bell family was kicked or scratched and pushed around by some terrifying unknown force. John’s daughter, Elizabeth, got the worst of it. Her hair was pulled so hard it started falling out and she constantly cried out that she was being stuck all over with pins. The witch would whisper and breathe in her ear until it drove her crazy.
Kate Bell finally got revenge when John became bedridden. She tormented him continuously and wouldn’t let the poor guy rest. On the morning of his death, maddening triumphant screams and maniacal laughing were heard all over town. They didn’t stop until John Bell was buried but even then, the witch swore that she would return every seven years to torment the Bell’s and anyone associated with them. Then she took up residence in a nearby cave to wait.
The Bell Witch was so well known that Andrew Jackson himself traveled to the Bell Farm to check it out for himself. To this day, the Bell Witch still haunts middle Tennessee. Between that 7-year itch, she is said to spend her time in this cave, waiting for those who dare to enter and follow the long tunnel into her dark dwelling.
Tours are $12/person and the money goes towards preservation of the property. The last tour starts at 4pm, so make sure to leave plenty of time to get back to Nashville for your Nightly Spirits Haunted Pub Tour!
Nightly Spirits Nashville Haunted Pub Tour
Obviously, I’m not going to give anything away here, but I will say you will learn a lot more about just how terrible the Bell Witch can be. You’ll have about 2.5 hours with plenty of stops to kick up your boots and have a cold one while your guide shares chilling tales of Music City’s spirited past. The tour ends at one of the most haunted bars in Nashville and there’s also some late night grub and great live music but be sure to get some rest, because the next day you will want to check out some of the places mentioned on your tour.
Union Station Hotel
Built in 1900, Union Station is where Nashville’s eight railway companies came together. Trains came through regularly until the 70’s when the building was abandoned. The Union Station Hotel opened in 1998 and is home to several permanent ghostly residents.
Now me, I always want the most haunted room they’ve got, so I would ask for Room 711. Abigail’s room. Abigail last came to the station when WWII had come to an end and many soldiers were returning home to their loved ones. Imagine her heartache when she discovered that he had been killed overseas and they would not be reunited at the station. Abigail threw herself onto the tracks into the path of an oncoming train. To this day, she is seen roaming the halls, still waiting for a happy reunion. Room 711 because has a great view of the train tracks below, so Abigail has made it hers, eternally. So sleep tight, while Abigail bangs around and drags things across the floor, sometimes even peeking in at you from the bathroom mirror!
After a delicious southern breakfast at the hotel, take a short walk to the Ryman. Built in 1892, “The Mother Church of Country Music” is the famous former home of the Grand Ole Opry and a must see for anyone visiting Nashville. And, as you will have learned on your Nightly Spirits tour, it is extremely haunted!
Beginning life as The Union Gospel Tabernacle, it was built in 1892 by Thomas Ryman. The name was changed to honor him after his death. The auditorium also shifted towards more secular entertainment which must have pissed him off because his ghost often shows up to cause quite a commotion during such performances. Ryman isn’t alone in his afterlife. There are several other spirits that call this little piece of history home. It is also rumored to be cursed
After your tour, you can just follow the ghost of Hank Williams through the alley to his favorite watering hole, Tootsie’s.
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
No visit to Nashville is complete without a visit to this famous purple honky tonk. Singer/comedienne, Tootsie Bess took over the place in 1960 and she’s been here ever since. Several country music legends got their start eight here on Tootsie’s stage and they just kept coming after they made it big.
I’m sure you are well aware that “it’s five o’clock somewhere,” and here at Tootsie’s, it’s always five o’clock, so grab a drink and enjoy some live music before heading across the street for lunch. Just don’t overdo it. Tootsie had a jeweled hatpin Charlie Pride gifted to her and she is still known to give folks a poke or two with it if they’ve had too much to drink!
Pancho and Lefty’s
You can always opt to take a Nightly Spirits Nashville Haunted Food Tour and sample some of the best cuisine in the city with a side of ghost stories. Pancho & Lefty’s Cantina is one of my favorite stops, with incredible tacos and a tequila bar. It’s a total bonus that it is housed in what is thought to be the oldest residential building in downtown Nashville and is haunted by the souls that came through the basement when it was part of the Underground Railroad.
I recommend the Nashville Hot Chicken Tacos! Right by the restaurant is the Country Music Hall of Fame. If you’re a country music fan, you won’t want to miss out on that.
Tennessee State Capitol
You’ll want to walk off that delicious lunch so head over to the Tennessee State Capitol. No doubt, your Nightly Spirits guide told you all about the cantankerous specters locked in undying dispute. The capitol’s architect and the builder didn’t quite see eye to eye. As it happened, they were both laid to rest on opposite corners of the property and can still be heard yelling at one another for all eternity. Listen closely for any inappropriate language. That is likely the spirit of President Andrew Jackson. Old Hickory had quite a colorful vocabulary!
Now it’s time for a bathroom break, so you’ll want to stop in at the world-class Hermitage Hotel. You read that right. This super fancy, yet very haunted hotel is also highly recognized and decorated for its men’s restroom. You may recognize the bright green and black chamber from the background of several Albums and music videos!
Skull’s Rainbow Room
Be sure to make a reservation in advance for dinner at Skulls. Skull’s Rainbow Room is one of the most celebrated and acclaimed dining experiences in Nashville. Located in the basement of the historic (and haunted) Southern Turf Building, dinner is always accompanied by live jazz. I can tell you from many personal experiences that the Lobster Bisque here will make you forget your manners and licking the bowl will become a profound desire. If you’re around Thursday through Saturday, stick around until 11pm when the Burlesque show begins. If you can tough it out even later than that, you might see Skull himself closing up and walking through the walls with his ghostly pet poodles.
Now get some shut eye before we bid farewell to Music City. There are many hotel options in the downtown area, but if you’d prefer to save your money for other exciting activities, Nashville has great public transportation and you can Uber/Lyft to many accommodations close by for $8-12. Trust me, you will not want to drive and park.
One of my favorite Fun Facts about Nashville: -In the 90’s a Nashville coffee shop was made famous for baking a Cinnamon bun that looked remarkably like Mother Teresa. They was even contacted by an attorney representing Mother Teresa herself and said they couldn’t use the image of the bun because it was her image (which has legal protection). Sadly, the nun bun was stolen, kicking off another international frenzy and the offer of a $5,000 no questions asked reward for its return. Turns out Mother Teresa loved the story. Her attorney reported that on her deathbed while they were discussing issues that needed to be solved, she said “Tell those people in Tennessee to find that bun that looks like her!”
Our next stop on the Ultimate Haunted Road Trip of the South, is about 125 miles southeast in beautiful Chattanooga, TN. I recommend heading out just after rush hour. We will be making a stop along the way at what just might be one of my favorite haunts in the country.
HAUNTED CHATTANOOGA, TN
Here’s a fun fact about Chattanooga: One of America’s favorite snacks was invented here. In 1917, a coal miner asked a traveling salesman for Chattanooga Bakery Inc. for a snack “as big as the moon.” The result was the legendary Moon Pie!
Hales Bar Dam
Just before you reach Chattanooga, you’ll come up on the Tennessee River (that big ol’ river in Nashville is the Cumberland). If you were looking for a place that’s almost certain to be haunted, which we are, you would be kicking yourself if you didn’t stop at the old Hale’s Bar Dam. Once upon a time, navigating the river in these parts could be deadly. Native Cherokee tribes used to call it “The Suck” because they feared if they got too close, they could see the souls of their ancestors being dragged below. These waters were sacred and after an illegal treaty in 1775 gave the land around it to the white man, Chief Dragging Canoe placed a curse that the “dark and bloody” land would be unproductive and uninhabitable.
To solve the curse of the rough dangerous waters, The Hale Bar Dam was constructed in 1913. If anyone failed to take that curse seriously, it soon proved how dark and bloody it could be. Hundreds died during the construction of the dam as it collapsed several times. Workers were killed, and women and children were killed in the crude tunnel below that they used to walk to school. Long Cemetery, nearby, was flooded, bringing remains to the surface only to float away in the mighty river.
In 1967, the leaky dam was replaced with the Nickajack Dam, which, in turn, flooded the Cherokee village of Nickajack and the Cave that was its namesake. That was believed to have released an ancient evil spirit that now has free reign of the Tennessee River. It’s no wonder this place is known as one of Tennessee’s most haunted locations.
You can now tour the Hales Bar Dam and if you’re really brave, you can stay the night in a floating cabin, just downriver of this cursed dam. While I am always the first one to run into that shambled down structure, I have yet to rest my head in such a vulnerable venue.
One more stop before we get into the city. Now, I will be the first to admit that Lookout Mountain has gone as commercial as soda pop, but the breathtaking beauty here cannot be denied. Even if you are surrounded by people taking selfies. Being from East Tennessee, this is a place that I used to visit regularly when I was a kid, so at least I got to experience this natural majesty before it became somewhat diluted with technology. You can enjoy lunch up on Lover’s Leap. This rock that juts out from the side of Lookout Mountain gets its name from the Cherokee legend of two young lovers from feuding tribes, Sautee and Nacoochee. According to the legend, Sautee was captured and thrown from the mountain and a distraught Nacoochee jumped to her own death after him. From Lover’s Leap, you can not only get a breathtaking view of the Chattanooga Valley, but you can also stand in one place and look out upon seven different states. Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.
Another thing that could take your breath away is the ghosts of Ruby Falls. Ruby Falls is the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the United States. And yes, you take an elevator down there and there are ropes and pathways and lights and music, but what a sight! Ruby Falls Cave is part of the Lookout Mountain Caverns that have been known for centuries by Native Americans and early settlers. It was also heavily utilized during the Civil War. The natural entrance to the cave was closed off when a railroad tunnel came through, so the falls were almost completely lost to civilization. But in the 1920s, amateur spelunker, Leo Lambert, was exploring the caverns and he discovered a smaller cave that he then wriggled himself into and found the falls, which he named for his wife, Ruby.
As you can guess, Leo and Ruby both still dwell in the cave, holding hands as they stroll along the paths. They are joined by a security guard who fell down the elevator shaft in the 60’s. The guard usually comes with the smell of cookies because his wife would often pack them in his lunch which he enjoyed by the falls. He is a bit of a prankster and likes to unscrew light bulbs on certain dark paths.
Check-in at the Chattanooga Choo Choo
Yes, that’s right. You can stay at The Chattanooga Choo Choo. It’s not just a song and it is no longer an active train station. The iconic Chattanooga Choo Choo became an eternal symbol for the city with Glen Miller’s record, but the railroad itself put Chattanooga on the map by making it the central connection between the South and North. It was a bustling terminal until the last train rolled into the station in 1970 and the Chattanooga Choo Choo was transformed into a hotel complete with unique accommodations in old Pullman Train Cars. It also boasts two full service restaurants, numerous bars, two music venues, a comedy club, a distillery, shopping, and a model railway museum. Ang ghosts, of course. Don’t forget the ghosts!
In the lobby, there is an old photograph of an African American porter that worked for the station in the 50’s and 60’s. The photograph is not the only place you can see this gentleman. He is standing by, ever-ready, to assist guests. Luggage will move about by unseen hands or the door to your room may open on its own. All in all, he is a very helpful ghost. He is also seen outside of the railcar rooms, sometimes as simply a mist in a photo. Other times, he is seen on the tracks, waiting to signal the phantom trains and welcome the passengers of days gone by.
Even with all of the updates, there is something about this place that transports you back in time. Standing under the large dome in the lobby, I always imagine the hustle and bustle of train passengers waiting for their connection. My great uncle used to work for the railroad and, later, for the hotel, so I have gotten to visit areas that are closed to the public. While I have never encountered the ghostly porter, the Chattanooga Choo Choo does have an unexplainable energy and there are plenty of spirits in my favorite train car, American Draft. It’s the only place in the world that has a pour your own beer system inside a fully restored 1930’s train car!
Hunter Museum of American Art
Take some time before dinner to see some of the incredible exhibits at the Hunter Museum of American Art. Just beware if you come upon a standoffish woman covering her face with her hands. That is not an art installation, it’s the spirit of Augusta. While she means no harm, she is quite frightening because her face is beaten and bloody and should she catch you staring at her, she will quickly advance with her arms outstretched until she vanishes right before your eyes!
This premier art museum and event venue sits atop of an 80’ tall bluff that was once a quaint little neighborhood. The Bennet’s were your average happy family…with a dead body under the expensive hardwood floors of their beautiful home. Apparently, Mrs. Bennet’s niece, Augusta, had come into some money and they murdered her for it. They beat her to death and stuck the body under the house. It wasn’t discovered until the homes were torn down to make way for the Hunter Museum.
Read House Hotel
The Read House is one of downtown Chattanooga’s most luxurious hotels and, of course, it’s haunted as heck! It was once used as a Civil War Hospital so there are ghostly soldiers seen and heard throughout the hotel. There is also “Martha,” who was a little too friendly with strangers when she had a little too much to drink. Her husband up and left her there after she had imbibed far too much and she fell to her death that night. Now she enjoys the company of single male travelers, pulling on their ties and whispering in their ears.
You don’t have to stay at this posh hotel to have a paranormal experience. Martha likes to spend time in Bridgman’s Chophouse, the hotel’s restaurant, teasing guests by spilling their drink or moving around silverware. But if she gets too rowdy, the restaurant’s namesake, Peter Bridgman, was a longtime favorite employee of the hotel and he is still around keeping things in check. The menu is a little pricey, but with an extensive steak selection, I promise it is money well spent!
After dinner, you can check out Room 311 in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the guest who never checked out. A young woman named Annalisa is a permanent guest in room 311. The room comes with unexplained noises, flickering lights, running water, shadowy figures. More than a few guests have reported seeing her standing over them while they are in bed. Sometimes she has a head. Sometimes she does not. Apparently, her lover beheaded her in the bathtub in that very room. And yes, you can check it out for yourself. Annalisa made it very clear that this is her room and hers alone, so the owners finally gave in and restored the room to its original glory. It is now a little museum and a really cool way to get a glimpse of what the hotel offered when it opened so long ago. Just don’t make Annalisa angry!
Back at the Choo Choo, settle in for a comfy night’s sleep in your antique train car for the night and get ready for a beautiful drive through the Smoky Mountains to our next stop.
HAUNTED PIGEON FORGE, TN
From hiking, to Dollywood, to high school theatre competitions, this area of Tennessee holds many childhood memories for me. Did you know that there are about two Black Bears per square mile in the Smokies? This area has something for everyone, especially ghost enthusiasts. We still have another 80 miles or so to our next destination, and there are lots of options around here. I recommend the Old Mill Restaurant in Pigeon Forge for some down-home country cooking with a heaping helping of haunts!
Lunch at The Old Mill Restaurant
Most of the time, when you visit an historic building, it has been renovated to suit whatever business that it now houses. Very rarely does it still function as what it was built for. The Old Mill, at almost 200 years old, is one of the oldest continuously operating grist mills in the country.
The Old Mill was built in 1830 by William Love. A few years later, He was named official postmaster and the first post office was located at the mill. Love named the community Pigeon Forge. During the Civil War, East Tennessee was divided and on the second floor of the mill, was a secret knitting loom to produce clothing for Union soldiers. There was also a makeshift hospital on the third floor. Over the next hundred years they added a saw mill, a pottery, and began producing electricity! Flooding was an issue, constantly wiping out the bridge over Little Pigeon River to get to the Mill. Twice, the large water wheel was washed away! Yet the mill continued with the grind (haha!). In fact, the original grindstones weren’t replaced until after 147 years of use. Today, the property includes several shops and restaurants, a candy kitchen, a creamery, and the Old Forge Distillery. Not to mention, Fried Chicken so good it can wake the dead!
There is so much live activity here that a lot of the ghostly activity happens after everything shuts down. Employees have reported numerous experiences, including cold spots, strange noises, and things moving about on their own. But what stands out amongst your run of the mill type haunts (haha, again!), are the spirits of Cherokee Warriors that have been seen at all hours on the property. A man named Robert Shields was one of the first white settlers to take up residence here and he built a small fort that stood right on the Indian Gap Trail, just behind where the mill is. After a small band of Cherokee warriors attacked, Shields led 60 frontiersmen across the mountain and attacked, killing 15 Cherokee and taking several prisoners. Some believe the souls of the slaughtered are trapped here, searching for the man responsible. They appear so lifelike that guests will often ask if there are actors doing a reenactment. You should be safe to enjoy your fried chicken in peace, unless you are a relative of Robert Shields, then you may want to just grab a quick bite for the road.
Legend of Spearfinger
Now we only have a little over an hour to get to our next destination, but it is a windy mountain road so if you’re used to flat land, be sure to look straight ahead as the road winds and lifts. There is an Old Cherokee Legend that I can’t help but think of while driving through the Great Smoky Mountains. It usually helps me get to where I’m going a little faster! Spearfinger is an old Cherokee legend about U’tlun’ta, meaning ‘she had it sharp’. She had stone-like skin and one of her right fingers was extra long and sharp. She uses it to slice out the liver of her victims before she eats it. You will know when she is on the hunt when the birds scatter and the sound of rolling thunder echoes through the trees when there is no storm in sight. But beware! She is also a shapeshifter and can come to you in any form to lure you close before she harvests your insides. You’ll never know it has happened. Victims feel no pain and she leaves no scar. You won’t wake up in a seedy hotel bathtub full of ice. You will simply drop dead once your body it’s missing an important piece. Drive carefully!
HAUNTED ASHEVILLE, NC
Asheville is known as The Land of the Sky. It’s beautiful mountain backdrop, eclectic art scene, and colorful history make it a top destination in the south. My favorite things about Asheville is the pride it takes in being Weird! And it doesn’t hurt that it has the second highest number of breweries per capita in the US! Given the high amount of hauntings in the area, it’s the perfect place for some Brews and Boos!
New Belgium Brewery
On the way into Asheville from the west is the New Belgium Brewery. Most people are familiar with Fat Tire Amber Ale, their most popular brew. My personal favorite is the Voodoo Ranger Starship IPA. The brewery is right on the French Broad River, so you can enjoy your brew on the deck and look out over the water. If you’re lucky (or perhaps unlucky), you may get an eyeful of the naked ghost of the Craven Street bridge!
In the early 20th century, a bunch of boys went swimming in the river, right where the brewery sits today. Not everyone owned a swimsuit back then so it wasn’t unusual for folks to just dive in, naked as the day they were born. Unfortunately, there had been some bad storms up river and the waters were a lot rougher than usual, with strong undercurrents along the rocky river bottom. As the day got late, the boys noticed that they were a number short. One of the boys ran for help while the other began a frantic search for their missing friend. Eventually the whole town was out looking for the boy. They dredged the river at first light, but the poor boy was nowhere to be found.
Since that fateful day, the boy has been seen streaking along the riverbanks, giving the folks at the brewery a show. He always has a goofy grin on his face. Sometimes, drivers crossing the Craven Street Bridge will be surprised to find him running next to their car, only to vanish when they get to the other side of the river.
So keep your eye out as you cross the bridge on the way to check in to the Haunted Haywood Park Hotel. From there you can walk to the rest of the location, so there is no need to get behind the wheel between breweries.
Haywood Park Hotel
The Haywood Park Hotel was built in the early 1920s and was home to Bon Marche, Asheville’s first upscale department store. It was also the more familiar Ivey’s Department Store before the hotel opened in 1985. The spirits reported here are those of an older man and a young girl. Guests will awaken to hear the two having a conversation in the middle of the night. It could be the spirit of W.E. Grove, who built the hotel, and his granddaughter. They are always pleasant and seem to help out around the hotel. They aren’t much on boundaries though. One guest went to use the restroom when she woke up and just as she sat down, a man’s pleasant voice remarked, “Good Morning!” As far as the guest knew, she was alone in her hotel room!
On top of the Haywood Park Hotel’s own spirits, it is surrounded by other haunted locations to help ensure a restless night.
Battery Park Hotel
Just a block away, it’s an apartment building now, but the former Battery Park Hotel was the site of a gruesome murder in 1936. Helen Clevinger, a 19 year old college student, was staying at the hotel with her uncle. She was brutally attacked in her room and an African American hotel employee was quickly convicted and put to death for the crime. While he did confess, he insisted until the moment he died that he was beaten into a confession. Since then, the building has seemingly been cursed. There have been a number of suicides over the years, where people have leapt from the roof, as well as accidents occurring during maintenance or construction causing people to fall to their deaths.
A block in the other direction is a shopping strip. Behind it is what is known as Chicken Alley. Named for the chickens that used to hand out in the narrow alley. Now the only chicken you’ll find there is the one in the large mural by local artist Molly Must. You can also find the spirit of Dr. Jamie Smith, a 19th century Asheville physician. Dr. Smith was known to have a good time when he wasn’t working and one of his favorite haunts was a bar in the alley called Broadway’s Tavern. One night he stumbled into the middle of a bar fight and was stabbed in the heart for trying to break it up. He died instantly. Ever since that night, people have reported Dr. Smith walked through the alley late at night in his black fedora and a long coat, carrying his medicine bag and tapping his cane along the pavement. Some say he keeps watch to make sure there are no more fights. Others believe he is just looking for that drink he never got that night.
Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria
Barley’s Taproom is a great place to grab some dinner and sample some Brews and Boos. Barley’s sits on the site of one of Asheville’s worst mass shootings. A man named Will Harris escaped from prison in 1906, and went on a shooting rampage. Apparently, he got pissed off when he hit on a lady and she shot him down. Then he, well, shot her down, along with two policemen and an innocent bystander. Harris escaped capture but was dealt some western justice by a local posse on his way out of the city. There is a dark figure that stalks his way down the street and disappears as he heads for the doors of the taproom. Guests also report the strong scent of women’s perfume drifting by inside. The billiards room upstairs has lots of ghostly going-on. It doesn’t help that the city gallows used to be located at this spot.
One World Brewing Co
This one is probably my favorite. And yes, I have visited almost all of them. I grew up an hour away and it’s cheaper to fly there when I visit home. So that’s at least two breweries per visit! Get a flight at One World Brewing because all of their beers are tasty! You get here by walking down an alley and entering a really cool, heavy door that looks like a beer barrel, and heading down a dark stairway into the basement of the restaurant above. The spooky factor comes from the underground tunnels that used to run underneath downtown Asheville. Some say they ran from the Masonic Temple to City Hall to the Police Department, and then branched off to other businesses- usually one that is/was a bar. During Prohibition, many cities ran bootlegging operations through underground tunnels. It wouldn’t shock me to learn that the higher-ups of Asheville were in on it. The tunnels are rumored to be haunted by Gallatin Roberts, the mayor of Asheville who committed suicide in 1931 when he was facing trial for conspiracy. Roberts killed himself in an office above the bank, leaving a long, sad note proclaiming: “My soul is sensitive, and it has been wounded unto death. I have given my life for my city, and I am innocent. I did what I thought was right.”
Burial Beer Company
While I haven’t been able to dig up any hauntings here (ha!), I had to include it on the list. Mostly because they have lots of IPA’s and that’s my poison, but the name says it all for this Asheville Brewery. But don’t expect a morbid or gothic scene inside. The name was inspired by New Orleans jazz funerals that celebrate life as much as death. So, for us, burial is part of the cycle of life and death. The sickle, the imagery you often see with the Burial name, is a harvest tool that’s also associated with death. That’s the duality.” Existential Dead double IPA, Vividly Depicted Hauntings IPA, or Deliver Us To Evil Porter. Plus, there is a great mural on the wall of Sloth and Tom Selleck, because why not!
Bhramari Brewing Co. is an eclectic brewery with beer and food offerings as unique as its name. Bhramari is the world’s first word for black bees and the Hindu Goddess of bees. For our Ultimate Haunted Road Trip of the South, I recommend a pint of Neon Ghosts, a tasty IPA with Mosaic & El Dorado hops. The brewery has its back to Church Street, which is where the spooky comes from. The thing about Asheville is you’ve got a brewery on every corner, and a church across the street. It is believed that a lot of Church Street used to be graveyards and many unmarked graves were paved over for the road. That always makes for some wandering souls. Numerous ghostly figures have been seen along church street, so if a pale woman in victorian clothing sits next to you at the taproom, she may have died hundreds of years ago.
This is just a small fraction of the Boos and Brews that you can find in Asheville. We could probably spend an entire week here and not experience it all. But we still have a lot of South to explore so it’s best to get some sleep and move on.
The Biltmore Estate
It’s a pretty short drive to our next stop, so I must insist on visiting The Biltmore Estate. The Biltmore was built to be a vacation home for George Washington Vanderbilt, one of the heirs to the infamous Vanderbilt fortune. He spent a significant part of his inheritance constructing the estate, including building out a private railway line for his family and guests.
Today,the estate has become one of the biggest tourist destinations in the state. The family still owns the place and have their own section of the mansion as their living quarters. The main part of the house is in pristine condition, with the beautifully kept furnishings that have been there for nearly 150 years. George and Edith Vanderbilt have also been there nearly 150 years. George’s shadowy figure has been seen in the library, until a woman’s voice is heard beckoning him to leave.
I have walked through this gorgeous mansion on several occasions. It was kind of a family tradition to go at Christmas time when the entire estate is decorated and lit up. I have always found the swimming pool on the lower floor creepy. The water is drained but I swear you can hear water splashing, and the lack of windows give it a tomb like existence. Also in the basement is The Halloween Room with witches, bats, and black cats, characters from folklore, a platoon of wooden soldiers, and other imaginative imagery painted on the brick walls. The room held a New Year’s Eve, gypsy-themed celebration where the guests were invited to paint the walls using inspiration from a famous Russian Vaudeville act. The sounds of clinking glasses, laughter, and bits of music echo through the basement coming from the Halloween Room.
After touring the mansion, head up to Biltmore Village to get a bite to eat before hitting the road.
It was modelled after a small English village and served as a completely self-sustaining community for employees of Vanderbilts estate. It remains a quaint historical location, where some weird stuff has happened over the years!
From 1979-1981 there were several sightings throughout Canada and the US of Kangaroo’s popping up in random places. No joke. One was actually spotted hopping around in Biltmore Village. Many people saw this out of place marsupial and the police even chased it through town, but just like every other sighting, the kangaroo seemed to vanish and was never seen again. There were no reports of a great kangaroo escape from any of the nearby zoos.
If that isn’t weird enough, Biltmore Village is also home to a McDonald’s fit for a Vanderbilt! It had to be designed to blend in with the village’s aesthetic, and it features a grand piano, red oak tables, wrought iron railings, and a gold-leafed fireplace. Even the employees are required to dress with black vests and bow ties to add to the classy atmosphere. So enjoy your mcfancy fries and buckle up for a two hour drive to Charlotte, the next stop on the Ultimate Haunted Road Trip of the South.
The Ultimate Haunted Road Trip of the South
PART TWO-Heading for the Coast!
PART THREE-Thick Southern Drawl
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