Chattanooga Haunts Unveiled

Every city has its tales of ghosts and phantoms. The same goes for Chattanooga and the many historic landmarks where these ghostly beings still call home.

By: Corey Honeycutt

Chattanooga/Tenn.(UTC/LOOP)–Chattanooga has become quite a tourist attraction as it continues to build and expand. It’s come a long way from the city it started  back during the Civil War.  With such a history its only natural to have a few skeletons in its closet.

In 1867 Chattanooga was flooded when the Tennessee river rose 57-feet. Many lost their lives and homes as the waters continued to rise leaving downtown Chattanooga in ruins. Once the waters receded survivors picked up their lives where they could and rebuilt their town 20-feet above the original. The memory of the flood and old city were lost as the years past, until it was discovered by an archeologists and UTC Professor Dr. Jeff Brown.

Brown discovered that below the streets of Chattanooga lies a lost time with stairs leading to no where and doors opening into nothing. Old signs with peeling paint hang lopsided from the rotting ceilings as the old town attempts to hang on to what it once was.

With such a tragedy its not shocking that there have been numerous ghost sightings by visitors who find their way underground. From phantoms to ghost horses, it seems that the people of the past have not yet let go of their old way of life.

Stairs that go nowhere

Stairs that go nowhere (photographer unknown)

The Delta Queen a historic stern-wheel built in 1926  recently made Chattanooga her home and brought her ghosts along with her.

The Delta Queen has been  converted into a hotel since it docked in Chattanooga and has been entertaining guests ever since. However, some of those guests seem to have never checked out.

The best known of these is the ghost of Mary Greene, who is the main ghost on board but by far not the only one.

Mary B. Greene forbade drinking on the Delta Queen during her life there. However, after she died that policy changed and a bar was installed. Not long after, a barge crashed into the Delta Queen and destroyed the bar. The name of the barge was the Mary B, almost as if she was determined to keep her policy alive even after her death.

This photo shows what is believed to be the ghostly figure of Mary B. Greene standing in one of the lower deck windows. The inset picture shows a close up of the ghostly figure.

Ghost of Mary Greene on the Delta Queen

Ghost of Mary Greene on the Delta Queen(picture taken by Tamara Hancock 2010)

Chattanooga’s Read House hotel is another popular haunt for spirits of the past to hang around. It’s a popular stop on the Chattanooga ghost tours and many paranormal investigations.

The Read House’s history isn’t the happiest of ones. The original hotel that was built on the spot was in 1847 and called the Old Crutchfield house. In 1867 it was used as a hospital by the Union army and then burned down shortly after. Dr. John T. Read rebuilt the hotel after the old hotel was demolished in 1926.

Throughout its history many famous names have stayed there such as Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchhill.  One of the most famous names to have stayed, was Al Capone, who stayed in room 311 during his days in court where he was convicted.

Room 311 is the main source of the paranormal activity at the Read House as many who have stayed there have claimed to see ghostly shadows in the room or mirror and other unexplained happenings. There is no documented story of why there may be a ghost in that particular room but there are rumors of a young woman, who was either a prostitute or mistress who was brutally murdered there.

Sheraton Read House hotel

Sheraton Read House hotel

The most common occurrence of  paranormal activity is the appearance of orbs, said to be the manifestation of spirits. They usually appear to be balls of light caught on camera.

Chattanooga holds many past secrets and lives that refuse to let go and possibly live among us today.