Every region of the United States is home to its share of ghost stories and urban legends, but each of them pales in comparison to the American South. The entire region is filled with stories of ghosts who simply refuse to shuffle off this mortal coil. Perhaps it’s the region’s turbulent history that’s given rise to such prolific paranormal activity. Perhaps the American South is just too pretty to leave behind. Who can say? What is for certain is that ghosts are plentiful below the Mason-Dixon Line. It seems every little town and hamlet has their own sad, spooky story to tell. Here are some of the most famous.
1. Myrtles Plantation
Several specters walk the grounds of Myrtles Plantation, perhaps attached to the grounds as a result of its time as a slave plantation in the 1790s. The most famous ghostly inhabitant is a former slave girl named Chloe who was first photographed in 1992. Another ghostly resident sits calmly and stares out the front window of the hotel.
2. The Grove Park Inn
In the mid-1950s, workers remodeling North Carolina’s Grove Park Inn began to complain of stomach aches while working in the vicinity of room 545. Over the course of the next few years, visitors to the hotel reported seeing the ghostly visage of a woman dressed in pink. In spite of the hotel owner’s attempts to keep the story quiet, visitors with no familiarity of the tale continued to recount the same details over and over. The story of the Pink Lady had begun. In 1996, the hotel’s owners looked into the hotel’s history and discovered the source of the story. In the early twenties, a woman fell to her accidental death at the Grove Park Inn; her spirit remains tethered to the site.
3. Sloss Furnaces
For a long time, Birmingham, Alabama has a reputation as a steel town. One of its primary providers of the valuable materials was Sloss Furnaces, a steel manufacturing plant. In 1882, the graveyard shift at Sloss Furnaces was run by a man named James Wormwood, known to his friends as “Slag.” An unyielding turd of the highest order, Slag reportedly dominated his men through fear and intimidation, forcing them to consistently risk their lives so Slag might look good for his bosses. More than 47 people died while working under Slag. In 1906, Slag slipped and fell into a vat of molten iron, dying instantly. Now, Slag haunts the Furnaces, perhaps as a grim punishment for a lifetime spent dismissing the lives of others.
4. 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa
In the late 1930s, a famous radio broadcaster and apparent cancer researcher named Norman Baker set up shop at the Crescent Hotel and Spa. There, he took in dozens and dozens of patients with the claim that he had a miracle cure for cancer. In truth, Baker’s “cure” was a sham; the whole operation was intended to bilk wealthy cancer patients out of their fortunes before they died. Over the course of his tenure at the Crescent Hotel, Baker made thousands of dollars essentially scamming and then torturing cancer patients. Today, the hotel is said to be the residence of several of Baker’s tragic patients.
5. Chapel Hill
Tennessee’s Chapel Hill is reportedly home to the ghost of a specter who once worked as a brake man on the rail lines. The man’s job was to climb atop a speeding train and manually turn on the brakes in time for the train to stop at a nearby station. One night, one of these intrepid brake men was thrown from the top of the train and decapitated on the tracks. Local legend tells that on some nights, onlookers can see the brake man’s lantern light wandering up and down the tracks as he searches for his missing head.
6. Sturdivant Hall
When he used his hard-earned money to purchase Sturdivant Hall, banker John Parkman thought he was on easy street. Then, in the years following the Civil War, Parkman lost a mint betting on cotton futures. The federal government cried foul and arrested Parkman for embezzlement. On his way to prison, Parkman vowed that he would never truly leave Sturdivant Hall until his name was cleared. A few days later, following a disastrous escape attempt, Parkman was gunned down by a jailor. Today, Parkman’s spirit — dressed in his evening finery — has been seen wandering the halls of his home.
7. Ryman Auditorium
In the annals of country music history, few places hold as much power as Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. Today, the building is still something of a Mecca for country music fans, but it’s also a hotspot for paranormal travelers, too. Reportedly, the building’s original owner, Thomas Ryman, is thought to haunt the theater. During the hey day of the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman was known to loudly disapprove of shows he thought were lackluster. Country legend Hank Williams, Sr. has also been known to make posthumous appearances on the stage, as well.
8. The Driskill Hotel
Austin, Texas’ most famous haunted hotel, the Driskill is home to at least two spirits. The first is a young Samantha Houston, who lost her lift in 1887 when she took a spill down the grand staircase. The second is Colonel Jesse Driskill himself. A larger-than-life figure who spent $400,000 building the Driskill in 1886. Unfortunately, Driskill was an impetuous man and lost the hotel in a game of poker. When he died penniless just three years after the final brick was laid in the Driskill hotel, his spirit remained to haunt the building. Some say you can still smell his cigar smoke to this day.
9. Kennesaw House
It’s time as a boarding house and then a temporary hospital and morgue during the Civil War has left several restless spirits housed in Kennesaw House. Located right next door the Marietta, Georgia Welcome Center, the Kennesaw House has maintained a reputation for spooky occurrences for the last several decades.
10. Marshall House
Over the century that the Marshall House has stood in Savannah, the hotel has seen its share of horror. Marshall House served as a point of respite for victims of two yellow fever epidemics as well as a hospital for Union soldiers at the end of the Civil War. When the historic location was refurbished at the end of the twentieth century, guests to Marshall House reported the spirits of children running through the halls.