Chattanooga Mythbusters

Chattanooga Mythbusters

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Chattanooga, Tennessee is the heart of a tri-state area called the Tennessee Valley. Nestled in southeastern Tennessee, the Scenic City borders on the edge of the state lines of northwestern Georgia and northeastern Alabama. The old historic region provides many tales of eccentric ghosts and ghouls that delight and challenge many Chattanooga mythbusters.

Which Female Haunts the Read House?

The historic Read House sits imposingly at the corner of Broad Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, and its Room 311 has a long haunted history. The hotel was originally called the Crutchfield House and was built in 1847. It is one of Chattanooga's greatest landmarks. During the Civil War, invading Union troops reportedly used it as a hospital. It was during this occupation that a young lonely Yankee officer sought out female companionship in the form of a local prostitute and took her to Room 311. Whether he did not want to pay her fee or was otherwise angry for unknown reasons, he brutally murdered her. Her name is unknown, and he was never charged for his crime. Supposedly, "she" particularly does not like male guests who smoke.

Some consider this story to simply be a Chattanooga urban myth. They cite the fact that the hotel burned down in 1867 after surviving the Civil War. Proponents of this tale claim that when the Read Family rebuilt the hotel, she returned back to Room 311. These Civil War Ghost enthusiasts claim that a ghost can attach itself to the property and not just to the building.

Others believe the ghost is not the prostitute at all, but a woman named Annalisa Netherly who arrived at the hotel in the 1930s with her gentlemen suitor and took up residence. He soon turned his attention to another woman and deserted her. She stayed on with a broken heart and either died of her heartbreak or took her own life because of it. Many ghost watchers agree with this theory, noting the hotel had burned down after the Civil War.

While these and other stories continue to be told, I have been in and out of the Read House my entire life and have never witnessed either phantom female. Of course, I have never stayed in Room 311. But one man, according to Chattanooga urban legend, did stay in Room 311 -- Al Capone, during his federal trial. Bars were placed on the window to the room and although he smoked, he never mentioned an encounter with either of the ghostly females.

The intricate Silver Ballroom with its original 1867 Waterford chandeliers and mirrors reportedly shows ghostly reflections that can be witnessed by hotel guests. Some even claim to have photographed them. The Internet is full of photographs taken by residents and visitors alike, both inside and outside the window of Room 311.

Just to be safe, Room 311 is not used unless it is requested or the hotel has no other rooms available.

The Sheraton Read House Hotel
827 Broad St.
Chattanooga, TN 37402
(423) 266-4121

Old Green Eyes May be Watching You

This region was the scene of one of the bloodiest Civil War battles. Barely below the Chattanooga border, the Battle of Chickamauga claimed 34,000 Union and Confederate lives in just two days. Only Gettysburg has more reported ghostly sightings. The most famous of the ghosts is named Old Green Eyes, and this apparition has been witnessed by thousands of people. This entity is often seen at dusk on the two-lane road that crosses through the battlefield and has even been accused of causing individuals to wreck cars along the highway. Old Green Eyes has been reported as both a green-eyed panther and a Confederate soldier. Yet, the legend originated with the Cherokee who talked of the glowing green eyes long before the Cherokee Removal in 1838-long before the Civil War. I'm not sure whether it helps any of the Chattanooga mythbusters or not, but as a lifelong native of the area, I can attest that this place is eerie--even in daylight.

Chickamauga Battlefield
3370 Lafayette Rd.
Fort Oglethorpe, GA 30742
(423) 821-7786
Hours: daily 8:30AM-5PM

The Other Chickamauga

Across from the National Chickamauga Battlefield lies the actual small town of Chickamauga. Every street in the city proper is named for Confederate officers. The only structure still standing in Chickamauga that saw the fighting firsthand is the Gordon-Lee Mansion. Used as a Union hospital during the battle, the bloodstained hardwood floors remain. For several years, it was used as a bed and breakfast and several scary urban legends have sprung from visitors that claim they could hear groans, whispers, footsteps and screams during their visits.

Gordon-Lee Mansion
217 Cove Rd.
Chickamauga, GA 30707
(706) 375-4728

Cliff Dwellers and Fine Art

On the high cliffs that jut out above the beautiful Tennessee River sits the Hunter Museum of American Art. Originally a private mansion built in 1905 from Coca-Cola money, the mansion now houses an extensive art collection. Included are very old American masterpieces, renowned both for the artists who painted them and the subjects that were captured. Tales of ghostly lights and apparitions lighting up night windows abound.

Hunter Museum of American Art
10 Bluff View
Chattanooga, TN 3740
(423) 267-0968
Hours: Mon-Tue and Fri-Sat 10AM-5PM, Wed and Sun noon-5PM, Thu 10AM-8PM
Admission: $9.95 adults, $4.95 children (3-17), free for children under 3

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

This is one of the newest Chattanooga urban myths. The famous Delta Queen Riverboat is docked at the Riverfront and has been converted into a luxury hotel. In the early 20th century, Captain Mary Greene commandeered the Delta Queen. This was a highly unusual activity for a woman-especially one in her seventies. In 1949, she became ill and died in her cabin. She is said to wander the boat, warning other captains through whispers. Most recently, Chattanooga mythbusters and ghost enthusiasts have photographed an illuminated woman staring out of one of the lower deck cabin windows. This window is located in the exact area where she passed away.

Many area ghost hunters and tour groups have popped up recently, cameras in tow. As they photograph old buildings around the city feverishly, they capture what they consider to be orbs everywhere. I think I may have even captured a few orbs myself. At first I thought those spots were due to a less than perfectly cleaned lens. But, who knows? Perhaps I captured a legendary Chattanooga ghoul!

Delta Queen Hotel
100 River St.
Chattanooga, TN 37405
(423) 468-4500
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