MEMPHIS, Tenn. — You don’t have to be a paranormal investigator to hunt for ghosts in Memphis.
This Halloween weekend, fright fans are flocking to walking ghost tours, haunted bus rides, and pub crawls.
“Who doesn’t want to drink with a ghost,” said Tanya Vandesteeg, co-owner of Historical Haunts Memphis Ghost Tours. “We keep opening up more bus tours this weekend because we keep selling out faster than we can put them up.”
Historical Haunts is one of three local companies offering spirited tours that take guests to some of Memphis’s most haunted sites.
Among the stops: Earnestine and Hazel’s bar, where customers & employees say the jukebox has a mind of its own, Court Square, where a boy is believed to haunt the fountain where he drowned in 1884, and Victorian Village, where the historical mansions host some ghostly guests.
“All of the ones in the Victorian Village, as far as we know, have some kind of legends and hauntings. We recently partnered with the Mallory-Neely right next to the Woodriffe-Fontaine House,” said Vandesteeg, who is also a paranormal investigator. “Both are haunted in their own way. The family, mainly the Fontaines, still reside in the house.”
Other haunted sites include the Native American earth mounds at Chickasaw Heritage Park and the old U.S. Marine Hospital next door, which was used to treat patients during the Yellow Fever epidemics in Memphis in the 1870s.
“We had the deadliest inland pandemic of all time with 1878 yellow fever, and that was 200 hundred people a day dying, and that’s a lot of bodies. We had them stacking bodies in alleyways,” said Vandesteeg. “It’s sad, but it leads to the energy of our tours.”
Vandesteeg said this week, during a tour, she had her own unique experience with one of the downtown spirits that continues to make her a true believer.
“I’ve been a paranormal investigator for over 20 years, and we always say as investigators our goal is to see the tap dancing ghosts.” said Vandesteeg. “I saw my first full-body apparition at Earnestine & Hazel’s.”
Earnestine & Hazel’s is considered to be one of the most haunted dive bars in the country.