Cookeville is a beautiful town, especially in the fall. The people are nice, the weather is decent and the restaurants are excellent. My only complaint about our fair city is the lack of “haunted” attractions. I have been to “Crazy George’s Bridge” at night and it was creepy enough, but that’s true of any bridge in the middle of nowhere. And you could make the parking lot of the Food Lion creepy if you told everyone it was haunted by the ghost of a headless former employee. I’m not technically a local so maybe I’m missing something, but what I’m getting at is we need to get on the rest of Tennessee’s level when it comes to our ghost stories.
Adams, Tennessee has one of the best stories of all in the tale of the Bell Witch. Anyone who grew up in Tennessee could tell you the basic outline of the story: Bell family lives in spooky secluded log cabin, family somehow angers ancient spirit, ancient spirit torments family, spooky log cabin is torn down, and ancient spirit takes up residence in nearby cave. I had the awesome opportunity to visit the old Bell property over fall break a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t disappointed. The drive from my hometown in Lebanon to Adams took about two hours, and it was a gorgeous one. There are three tour options: the cabin tour, the cave tour, and a double package. It was my birthday, so we went for the double. The cabin tour is cool, taking you through a reproduction of the Bell home and telling the family’s story room by room, but it’s mostly focused on the history of the Bell family itself. The creepiest thing that happened there was finding out the parents were married when he was 31 and she was 12. So, yeah, there’s that.
The real showstopper is the cave tour, which leads you into the supposedly haunted “Bell Witch Cave.” It’s a really beautiful place despite its history as a Native American burial site and the Bell Witch’s supposed home. We were lead deeper and deeper into the cave, all the while being told stories of strange happenings and cursed rocks. My suggestions for this tour: first, if you’re claustrophobic, don’t bother with it. There are several tight squeezes and dark caverns that will cause your imagination to run wild and leave you thoroughly freaked out. Second, wear some shoes you don’t mind ruining. I made the mistake of wearing suede oxfords, and I don’t think they’ll ever be the same. Third, do NOT take anything out of the cave. Regarding the cursed rocks, the Witch apparently doesn’t like being stolen from. Anyone who removes a rock from the cave is allegedly plagued by bad luck until the rock is returned. According to our tour guide, they get hundreds of rocks in the mail each week from spooked former guests, all of whom complain about phantom pains, financial loss or items going missing. Even though these stories probably have logical explanations, I certainly wouldn’t take any chances.