This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 1st Annual Specters Phantoms and Other Otherworldly Kin (SPOOK) Conference in Shadyside, Tennessee. It was quit amazing. SPOOKs from some of the biggest haunts all across the country showed up.
Luckily Shadyside was just the place to host them all. If ever oh ever a creepy haunted town there was, Shadyside is it.
SHADYSIDE’S HAUNTED PAST
Shadyside’s located in the lower half of the middle part of Tennessee between Nashville and Chattanooga. It’s not too far from Lynchburg, Tennessee (home of the famous Jack Daniel’s Distillery).
Shadyside was one of those quaint, quintessential Southern towns which was a booming lumber town at one point. Except, as idyllic as it was, it knew plenty of hard times.
The lumber mill saw it’s share of tragedies. Fire, job-related deaths, and ultimately a total shut down when it ran into hard times in the mid-1930s.
But about that same time Clanton Boyd decided Shadyside would be the perfect place to build Boyd’s Forms, a mannequin manufacturing plant.
Boyd’s Forms continued to provide jobs until the late 1970s when a massive fire took out the factory. However, quite a few Shadyside residents also lost their lives that day, though not all because of the fire.
All deaths on April 1, 1977 can be attributed to one man: Edgar Grubb. He holds the infamous distinction of being Tennessee’s worst mass murderer.
After killing his family he headed to the factory, where he took out a few workers before setting the place on fire. He died in the blaze.
The factory was never rebuilt. No one’s ever bothered to tear it down either. It’s charred remains are dotted with a few weathered crosses in remembrance of the workers who lost their lives that day.
The residents who call Shadyside home these days often report hearing sounds (voices and screams) coming from the factory. Apparitions are also commonly reported.
Also, there are some mannequins still left behind from the factory’s heyday. It’s not uncommon to hear stories about people thinking they see them move either. (I saw a couple burnt-up mannequins when I was there. But all stayed perfectly still. Thank heavens!)
SHADYSIDE INN AND THE SPOOK CONFERENCE
Shadyside’s never quite been the same. It’s trying to rebuild as an artist’s haven, though.
You’ll find an ice cream parlor and one restaurant in addition to the few antique and craft stores. There’s also the Shadyside Inn, which is where the SPOOK Conference was held.
While the inn normally doesn’t boast ghosts, it sure did this past weekend when spooks from the likes of all the biggies descended upon it. You name it, they were represented: Waverly Hills, the Myrtles Plantation, the Queen Mary, the Stanley Hotel, and many more.
It was really interesting hearing what they had to say. You think us living humans are exhausted of the ghost shows? It’s nothing compared to what the ghosts feel!
“You know, I’m done with being expected to talk to every schmo waving around a digital voice recorder,” one ghost from the Whaley House said.
“It used to be we could catch people off guard,” a spook from St. Augustine Lighthouse commented. “Some maybe sort of knew we were there, but now? Everyone’s always coming looking for us. It’s not as much fun to manifest when they’re hunting for us.”
In fact, being “hunted” really seemed to trigger angst the most in all of them, but none so much as Eastern State‘s spook.
“All the tours? Exhausting. All the TV cameras and crews with their ‘ghost hunting’ casts hoping to ‘catch’ us? It was pretty awesome at first getting so much attention, but now…we’re over it. When we give them an EVP saying ‘Get out!’ or cussing at them, it’s because we don’t like them and don’t want them there. All we want is some respect. We’re ghosts, not circus sideshow freaks. All I can say is there’s a lot of bozos who it’s lucky for them that we’re trapped in our spectral forms like we are. If you only knew how much violence we’d really like to inflict…”
Tired of ghost tours and ghost hunting groups traipsing through their space, and since they are limited in their physical attacking capabilities, SPOOK members decided to strike back in another way. With an actual strike.
“We figure if we go on strike we can reclaim our haunts. With no activity for these ghost TV shows to capture, their shows will go up in smoke. Interest will die down. We’ll get some peace and quiet again. And the chance to haunt on our terms,” the White House‘s ghost of Abraham Lincoln (who’s fittingly enough the President of the SPOOK Society) said.
Ought to make for an interesting Halloween…
In case you didn’t figure it out before now, all the information above was all fabricated. Shadyside’s not real, there was no SPOOK conference, and I haven’t found some way to interview ghosts.