Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Case Files: Walking Horse Hotel

Some of the legends and ghost stories concerning the Walking Horse Hotel (circa 1917) will make you shake your head in wonder--and others are simply tragic. When the current owner of the establishment, Joe Peters, took over the property, he learned about the tales pretty quick. First there's the story of the spectral horse that's been seen inside the building (thought to be 'Strolling Jim,' a world champion Tennessee Walking Horse who is actually buried outside on the premises), then there's the spirit of 'Floyd Carothers' (a past owner of the hotel who is rumored to haunt the area around his old room on the third floor, though he passed away in Jonesboro, Arkansas) and then there are the usual tales of spirits associated with historic saloons and hotels. But the most tragic tale of all concerns Joe himself.

Joe purchased the hotel in 2007 and was renovating the historic building when his wife, Chais, succumbed to cancer and passed away. He named the music hall (an area that now features regular music acts) after her and continued on, turning the Walking Horse into a unique and pleasurable place to stay (there are six beautifully apportioned rooms for rent). Since then, several paranormal groups have investigated the hotel--and most have come away with compelling evidence that supports the idea that something is going on at the Walking Horse!

When Mike and I stayed at the hotel, we took one of the five rooms on the second floor (Room 205) that was said to have had more than its fair share of paranormal activity (though it seems the third floor--an area that is still being renovated--is the most active). Joe gave us a tour of the premises and pointed out several hot spots where folks had either had a personal experience or a previous investigator had gathered some evidence.

He also mentioned that most of the information about the Walking Horse being haunted was nonsense (come on, is anyone really expecting to see a ghost horse in the building?)--specifically the tales of a Vietnam veteran going on a shooting spree and of a customer who claimed to be possessed by Floyd (yet another reason to be skeptical of 'information' found online). We placed audio recorders in our room while we investigated the third (and empty) floor of the hotel, where we used the usual array of audio, video and environmental monitoring gear.

While working on the third floor, we had several significant experiences. The sounds of disembodied voices/whispers were heard a few times (once there was a loud sigh that sounded between us), a massive black shadow shape once blotted out the light of an entire doorway and Mike (much to his surprise) witnessed the full bodied apparition of a woman wearing a turn of the century dress. I can attest to at least his surprise; he dropped his flashlight, jumped about two feet into the air and nearly tore my shirt off trying to grab me to show me the woman.

As for the bedroom we stayed in...well, we were pretty exhausted after working into the wee hours on the third floor, so there were no personal experiences (unless you count light snoring). The following day, we thanked Joe for his hospitality, had a great breakfast at the hotel and made our way back to the homestead for several days of reviewing the evidence we gathered.

Though the video and photographic data would yield no evidence, there were several EVP's captured by our audio recorders:

EVP 1: This was captured on the third floor. Listen behind Mike and I and you will hear a female voice say 'Hello.'

EVP 2: This was captured on the third floor. Once again, you'll hear Mike and I talking. Behind us, you'll hear a little female laugh then one word a bit later.

EVP 3: Also on the third floor. Right after I say 'Ow' you'll hear another 'hello.' This one sounds young or male, though.

EVP 4: This clip is actually of us hearing a disembodied voice. It sounds like a yell, then a couple words. It was captured on the third floor.

EVP 5: Captured on the third floor. Right after I say, 'Tell us your name,' you'll hear a strange, whispered voice. It sounds male.

EVP 6: Here's a weird one. Captured on the third floor. Almost sounds like a 'yee haw' or something.

EVP 7: This was on the third floor. We are changing out batteries (they were just drained) and discussing switching out gear. In the background you'll hear two female sighs/moans.

EVP 8: This is an example of the weird breaths/sighs we heard live on the third floor. You'll hear me and Mike talking in the background; over the top is the breath.

EVP 9: Captured in Room 205. We are asleep. Sounds like a bump and a weird yell.

EVP 10: While we were sleeping, something significant moved in the room. This is the audio of that sound, as well as us waking up and saying we heard something.

As a bonus, here is the audio of Mike actually seeing the apparition (excuse the brief obscenity). I put this here to show the correct way of dealing with this type of event; I've discovered that immediately documenting the details is essential for remembering exactly how an event takes place. It's also important to not run away, but to immediately investigate the area.

The Walking Horse Hotel is located in Wartrace, Tennessee. Visit their website for more information regarding renting a room or catching a live performance at this wonderful and historic hotel. With personal experiences that include shadow masses, a full-bodied apparition and disembodied voices, I have no problem stating we believe this hotel to be haunted, although we cannot vouch for the ghost horse...