Chattanooga Ghost Tours
War, monumental flooding, jealous lovers, and estranged families have all attributed to Chattanooga being one of the most haunted cities in the South, just behind New Orleans and Savannah. Amy Petulla launched Chattanooga Ghost Tours in 2007, which was later named one of the top 10 tours in the country by Tripadvisor. She began with research and opened a Pandora’s Box of apparitions, chilling encounters, and unexplained activities across downtown Chattanooga.
On a recent cloudy evening, we joined our Haunted Guide Jason Tinney and about 20 others for a ghost tour. Petulla started our tour by sharing tidbits on the city’s top haunted spots, scrolling through countless photographic proof of ghoulish beings. As Tinney later explained along the route, ghosts are not visible to the naked eye but can manifest on film in the form of unexplained light or mysterious smoke or mist. A lot of the photographs may be easily explained away. But your suspicions may start to crack, which is one of Petulla’s favorite parts of leading a new group.
“One of the things I love the most is the people who start the tour not believing in ghosts and end thinking a completely different way,” said Petulla. The stories you encounter along the tour will likely move any skeptic. Tinney stopped us outside a seemingly ordinary parking deck, but as we walked around the corner to the level going underground, we learned of its origins. “The former business here belonged to G.W. Franklin, who was an undertaker,” revealed Tinney. “We’ve had interesting photographs taken here over the years. Earlier this year, someone took a photo of what appears to be a translucent corpse.
”Tinney pointed to the back wall of the parking garage, closed off by a dark chain link fence. It was an original wall made of large, stacked stones at the level of Chattanooga’s early streets before flooding caused the town to raise the roads." He explained the Stone Tape Theory of how rock like limestone (which we have a lot of in Tennessee) is particularly good at capturing energies. Ghosts are considered to be energies caught in time or projected against the rock, and the garage is “one of the most active sites on the tour,” explained Tinney. While you’re not guaranteed a ghostly photo or encounter, rest assured you’ll have an intriguing evening filled with Tinney’s vibrant storytelling that unearths some of Chattanooga’s lesser-known history.
(If you’re looking for more, they also offer adult-only ghost hunts with specialized equipment.) Tours start at the shop at 57 E. 5th Street then move onto sites of the most confirmed ghosts in the city, including the Read House Hotel. Annalisa Netherly, who was reportedly murdered in Room 311’s bathtub in the 1920s, still haunts the space today (and yes, you can book Room 311, if you dare). In the hotel’s recent renovation, they made a point to match furnishings from the 1920s, to recreate the moment in time when Annalisa mether grisly demise.
If you go, Chattanooga Ghost Tours are a little over an hour long and do not allow time for bathroom breaks (but Petulla gave us a friendly reminder to go before departing the shop). They do, however, allow “well-behaved” dogs. We had four on our tour, and it was fun to watch their reactions to potential spirits we could not see. Kids are welcome but at your own discretion. No one is going to jump out and scare them, but the spooky stories might create a few sleepless nights. For more info, visit ChattanoogaGhostTours.com