As a personal lover of anything strange and paranormal, I feel it’s a must that I share a small detailing of a night I took with a friend to explore several separate haunted locations. The entire destination was on a whim for a quiet night only to be rattled with ghostly spins.
Based on our location (Soddy Daisy, Tennessee), we had a small handful of choices to decide from what may be the best place to “hunt” for anything worth paranormal excitement. I forget exactly what made us decide, but we came upon the story of the Delta Queen, an American stern-wheel steam boat turned into a U.S. National Historic Landmark and in 2009 was opened up as a hotel, according to DeltaQueenHotel.com. Resting on the edge of Coolidge Park in downtown Chattanooga on the Tennessee River, the tale of Ma Greene surrounds this merry boat with tales of her disapproving the sales of alcohol causing a barge to crash into the boat momentarily after the first drink was served. Although other than this happening, it is believed the haunting is of a friendly kind.
We had made it to the Delta Queen about an hour after sun down and were equipped with the minimalist novice ghost hunting gear, a camera. But an up to date camera indeed with a new memory card and all day of charging. Upon arrival we wanted to start out with a few pictures of the entire boat before we actually made our way onto the deck. But literally, only about 15 feet from the entrance, click…and the camera turned off. Now I’ve never been on any true paranormal ghost hunts, so this itself was a beautiful start. After so many tries of working to get the camera up and going, we failed. So we decided to bring it back to the car as carrying it would just be a hassle. A minute of walking then went by and click…it turned back on and two-thirds of the battery was gone. Oh man I was ready for this night.
Making another attempt to enter the ship without interference, we decided to save the picture-taking for on board. But overall, the entire hunt was somewhat of a bust. The camera didn’t malfunction any and we weren’t able to come up with anything on the replay screens. I think the only thing we did truly accomplish were semi-funny/confused looks by the guests of this now hotel.
So we left and talked about our excitement with the camera incident. It didn’t really matter that we didn’t catch anything extraordinarily paranormal, we were just riled up about what had happened before the hunt truly even started. At around this point, Cat (my hunting partner), reminded herself of another tale about the last man who got lynched from the Walnut Street Bridge (mostly known to those in the area as the Walking Bridge) almost literally just above the Delta Queen. The story isn’t a popular one as it doesn’t really show much any reported activity and the possibility of wanting to ignore such ideas because of the bridge’s popularity with the peace it brings among the people. But with the history in mind, we made a detoured stop on the other side of the river.
Upon approach, there were signs regarding our forbidden entrance because of construction work; but this was actually pretty great because of of the common belief that any paranormal filled location that is undergoing construction has higher potential for activity. I’m still not sure what they were working on, but at this entrance we saw we were allowed a shallow take into it. So we did what we could on this last minute investigation. We stepped on, and again as soon as we attempted to take a first picture, click…the camera cuts off. But the eerie thing about this one was that it didn’t even take the time to completely shut off. It just quit on the spot with the lens still stretched out. It made no attempt to slide back in no matter how many times we tried to turn it back on just for a second for it to do so. It was completely dead without a picture to show for our try. But once again the picture doesn’t matter to us, this abnormal paranormal activity with this piece of equipment that had been charged all day long, only took a few moments to be drained completely of its battery and a scare by Cat that the camera might actually be broken. Even with taking it back to the car and taking time for a pizza stop, the camera still sat dead. (Note: for those concerned about Cat’s camera, eventually the next day allowed for it to continue working without any harm)
Okay, so we had two semi-successful malfunctions regarding our attempts to make contact with the paranormal. It only took another thought by Cat for us to make a decent bit of a trip back through Soddy and into Sale Creek where off a road called Daugherty Ferry Rd, but most commonly referred to as Shipley Hollow, is Shipley Cemetery. But the majority of this haunting hype lies with the bridge almost half way between the roads entrance and the cemetery’s. The tales of this haunted bridge vary slightly, but they all have in common the story of ghost, “Pitty-Pat.” The reason for this name is that if you walk/hang around the small bridge you may be able to hear the pitty pat resembling that of a large cat, or the creaking of an old carriage’s wheels coming to or from. A lot of people have claimed to hear this sound, but on this specific night we didn’t really come to any solid evidence of such a sound.
The story of this haunted bridge comes from when an old woman and her four children were taking a carriage ride through the area when they saw the figure of a large black mass of a figure. Some claim the black mass had the figure of an over-sized cat that walked on it’s hind legs. In short, the black mass attacked the woman with such force that resulted in her death only days later. Destroying her carriage, moments after the attack while the lady struggled around, eyeing for her children it came to be that they were missing and never found again.
So with the story in mind, we walked the bridge with open eyes and care. We weren’t mindful to bring a flashlight as this was a last minute decision, but I actually came to believe this was a better idea; no flashlights as it will spoil your eyes from such paranormal hunting, it’s a personal preference. We spent some time standing along the side of the bridge but heard nothing. We “saw” minor illusions of what may have been something, but there was nothing concrete. Deciding to move off the road and more towards the wooded area on the side, we traveled a small distance down trails and non-trails, still coming up short. Except for a time Cat told me when she had been there she swore she saw a cloudy woman crouched/perched like a bird or cat on a fallen tree hanging parallel over an adjacent side creek. This paranormal picture in my head alone was enough to draw goosebumps.
Before we left, there was a moment where we decided to stop and just watch the bridge from a bank off the creek of larger water. We stood silent for a few minutes, attempting to not disturb our senses as our eyes had completed its adjustment to the darkness. My gaze then moved onto the water, straightforward. Silence took over, and then PSHHH!… I saw every bit of an entire ten foot splash shoot into the air from the center of the creek. I’m can’t say for certain if my eyes were playing with me because of the rush, but I swear I saw a large black mass appear as it just smacked the water, held for a second and slowly sunk. It was the longest-shortest delayed reaction as we at the same time shot from our direction away, but just as quick as we darted we stopped; we wanted to see what could happen next. Hearts racing and minds trembling, we were glued side to side slowly walking back to our original position. We weren’t going to allow ourselves to miss anything due to being afraid… but after a few moments of sense numbing intensity, a natural urge shot us back to the car to recuperate what exactly had just happened. Bursting out descriptions of what we had just witnessed and immediate “it was” and “it wasn’t”s and of course sprinkled cuss words through out. We couldn’t contain ourselves. After that time to calm down we then headed back for another go at what may come again.
I won’t waste your time on this experience though, nothing else paranormal happened at this bridge, but allow me to defend what happened. The sound of the splash was massive. Almost like someone had held a large flat stone so many feet high and dropped it. But this was at the center of the stream where the possibility was impossible and the trees did not extend far enough for the debunking of any branch falling. With this in defense, it brings the point of the sound of the splash. It Was Not A Fish! I watched the splash with my own eyes and Cat can stand for me that there was only one large splash. If it were a fish there would have been Two splashes; one small one of where the fish exits the water and then a larger one of it falling back. But there was no first small splash. And not only that, the possibility of a fish drawing up the size of a splash witnessed is merely impossible, Impossible.
Obvious to say, this was pretty much it for us. We could have gone back home as we were more than happy with what we had encountered. But instead we decided to try our luck a little more in the hunt for the paranormal and went on over to Shipley Cemetery where there are literally countless, restless bodies due to multiple unmarked graves and scattered stones, but no one is completely sure. Under the largest tree there use to be multiple hangings and it is said that if you pass underneath at specific times, something noticeable will happen. I don’t know if it was just my imagination or my wandering eager ears but I could have sworn I head extra leaves crunching behind us as if another person walking, or more accurately sliding behind us. But it stopped as soon as I noticed it and waited to listen for more. Of course, this isn’t unusual in any ghost hunting. Another minor happening was when passing a specific gravestone, one I can’t remember off the head, there was the distinct smell of a burning cigar. It was so thick and hung around for at least several inhalations. This is something we again both witnessed and were able to describe to each other. After a few more moments of restless waiting, due to the previous jolt of The Splash, we decided it was time to head back home.
To this day we believe wholeheartedly what happened at all locations, especially at our beloved Shipley Hollow, despite any skeptics. No, we don’t have any audio or visual evidence of what happened, but we have our memories and I believe this is enough. The experience alone brought about imagination and the further belief in the paranormal. You can’t turn any skeptic from word of mouth or any technological evidence, they just need to be there. And frankly I don’t care about turning any paranormal skeptic if they don’t want to learn the truth, I know what I know we experienced and that is all we need.
http://www.deltaqueenhotel.com/ , Landmark Chattanooga Hotel, Delta Queen Hotel