The Tri-Cities is an area teeming with history, dating all the way back to when there was no one inhabiting these lands but Native Americans. There is historical significance with the location of Fort Watauga, the hustle and bustle of the railroads and even being home to more than one US president and a rumored well-known gangster. Due to our storied past, I personally believe this area is holding on to a lot of that past energy, and sometimes we’re able to catch a glimpse of it.
Being someone who is particularly sensitive to energy, I personally believe in “ghosts.” Believe what you want, but based on my experiences I can say without hesitation that I have been in some places that held a certain force. And I know many of you agree with me. A quick google search of “haunted places in Tri-Cities, TN” will afford you page after page of websites devoted to paranormal happenings in and around the East Tennessee region. I will not bore you by plagiarizing these articles, but I will highly encourage you to investigate them yourself, as they at the very least will get you out exploring where you live. Instead I am going to tell you about some firsthand spooky places I’ve been with the hopes you will check them out as well. If you dare…
One of the creepiest places I’ve encountered is Burleson Hall at ETSU. The haunted history attached to this building goes back to the 1960s, when English professor Christine Burleson committed suicide following the contraction of a crippling disease that left her bound to a wheelchair. Her father, David Sinclair Burleson, is the building’s namesake. This macabre history being completely unknown to me, I thought nothing of being assigned to work the computer lab there my freshman year of college. I would be in there until pretty late in the night, 9-10p sometimes and well after dark. There were few students who used that space, so I was often “alone” though it never quite felt that way. No matter where I went in that building it always felt like someone was staring at me. I would hear noises like someone walking around and upon investigation see no one. Is there a possibility there could have been a particularly stealth janitor working those late hours? Sure. But after far too many trips to the dated, dark bathrooms and hearing footsteps following behind me, you’ll never be able to convince me of that. It took one semester, and in January I quickly switched to the front office at the CPA.
Another eerie location I’ve experienced unsettling energy is the Historic Eureka Inn in downtown Jonesborough. I would like to follow that by saying this place is also one of my absolute favorite places in the Tri-Cities, so no amount of ghosts or goblins could keep me from enjoying it as much as possible. Instead, I consider the spirits there as welcomed guests who compliment the ambiance. The Inn was one of the first lots purchased after Tennessee became a state in 1796. It was one of the only wooden structures to remain standing following devastating fires in the late 1890s and still has its original hardwood floors. The Inn was used as a boarding house as well as a sequester house for jurors which lends to its rich history and ample paranormal activity. The property has also been rumored to have been a brothel and a moonshine still. Paranormal investigators have even captured voices pleading for their lives! Some girlfriends and I spent the night there a few Halloweens back and as we sipped our wine and enjoyed pizza by the fireplace in the parlour, the presence of something otherworldly was undeniable. These spaces that are centuries old, that have seen and heard so much, housed so many characters, most good, some bad, you’re bound to absorb some of that into the walls and bannisters and mantels.
Finally, a rather unexpected spot for ghostly activity is Watauga Lake Winery in Butler. The winemakers purchased the old Big Dry Run School, a remote building back in the twisting, winding woods around Watauga Lake as their production facility and it now also hosts their tasting room and a cafeteria where guests can enjoy woodfired pizzas. The school was only open from the 1940s to the 1980s and housed children together from kindergarten through 12th grade. Paranormal investigators visiting from Charlotte placed cameras in the basement, at the bottom of the old coal chute and captured the full and very visible apparition of a man. When the owners watched the tape with an elderly woman who still lived in the area and used to work at the school, she exclaimed the man’s name out loud. She instantly identified him as a local man who had worked extensively on the construction of the school and who was tragically killed in a bridge collapse. Those same investigators caught the voices of children playing in the gymnasium among other spooky happenings. I’ve visited this winery on multiple occasions. With its remote setting and the creepy coal chute that leads from the main floor to the basement, it’s easy to see why it would remain home to inhabitants from the past. I’ll be the first to say you couldn’t pay me enough money to stay there overnight. But I might do it if I were promised their delicious vino and pizza!
Do your own research and get out and explore some of the creepy haunts and hollers of the Tri-Cities for yourself. You never know who or what might just make an appearance. Have a happy and safe Halloween!