“Step into one of Tennessee’s most haunted locations for an experience like no other!”
The Hale’s Bar Dam in Marion County, Tennessee, has the tragic history and paranormal sightings to live up to that description. Yet the former owners of Hales Bar Dam Haunted Tours skipped town in March of 2019 without an explanation and without refunding prepaid fees for future tours. Did something scare them away or were they just fly-by-night hucksters as sites like Haunt Jaunts imply? While the latter seems more likely, a case for the former can be made as well.
If you were looking for a place that’s almost certain to be haunted, you would be hard-pressed to find a better location than the old Hale’s Bar Dam on the Tennessee River. Prior to the construction of the dam, the part of the river flowing through the Tennessee River Gorge was filled with navigational hazards that made passage precarious at best, deadly at its worst. Native Americans referred to one deadly whirlpool as “The Suck” because they thought they could see the souls of their ancestors being sucked into it, along with anyone else who got too close. They believed the waters of the river were sacred, and after the illegal Treaty of Sycamore Shoals in 1775, War Chief Dragging Canoe cursed the land around it, vowing that this “dark and bloody” land would be unproductive and uninhabitable for anyone that attempted to settle there.
The Hale Bar Dam, completed on November 1, 1913 (many construction photos here), was built to solve the hazards, if not the curses. Not surprisingly to Native Americans, it didn’t. Hundreds of workers died building it, and at least two children died in a crude tunnel under the dam built so they could walk to school. The dam flooded nearby Long Cemetery before anyone could remove the remains or headstones. It’s said that some of the ghosts seen at the dam belong to the workers, the children and members of the Long family buried there.
Then there’s the leaks. The dam began leaking almost immediately after it opened, and it continued despite continuous repairs until it was replaced in 1967 by the Nickajack Dam, which flooded the Cherokee village of Nickjack and the Nickajack Cave for which the village was named for. Needless to say, ghost hunters might want to keep an eye out for Cherokee spirits. Throw in a demon in the tunnel and the ghost of a murdered woman in the abandoned building and it’s no wonder it’s called “one of Tennessee’s most haunted locations” and no surprise that the former tour operators may have been spooked out of town. A number of paranormal investigators have attested to the presence of spirits.
The good news is, ghost hunters are welcome again to the Hale’s Bar Dam, Marina and Resort. The upcoming October event is called the 6 Fears Hell’s Bar Dam and the new owner will be conducting tours start in September (see the website and Facebook page for more details). They will also be offering concerts, scary movie nights, historical and paranormal tours as well. For everyone’s safety, there will be no Ouija boards, seances, etc., no drinking or drugs and no one allowed in alone.
Sounds like the chances of a ghostly encounter are good. If you see one, stay calm. However, if you see a leak … RUN!