Located in the southern portion of the state, Bowling Green is Kentucky’s third largest city. It’s 60 miles from Nashville, Tennessee and 110 miles from Louisville, Kentucky. It was honored with a Dozen Distinctive Destination by the National Trust for Historic Preservation because of its dedication to showing off its past through its many historic districts and restored landmarks. It’s smack dab in the midst of cave country, and is home to Western Kentucky University and the National Corvette Museum.
It also happens to be one of Kentucky’s most haunted cities. Below are some of Bowling Green’s most haunted places.
Bowling Green boasts two New Orleans-inspired restaurants, both of which happen to be haunted.
440 MAIN – BOWLING GREEN, KY
This restaurant serves steak, seafood and New Orleans cuisine. It overlooks Fountain Square Park and is rumored to have a ghost that acts up when books are moved. Events Coordinator Chas Goshorn has been with 440 Main for 15 years and has heard numerous stories throughout the years about a female ghost in their second floor banquet room. The rear wall of that room is shared with the 2nd floor apartment’s closet wall. Apparently the ghost causes trouble when a stack of books in that closet are moved. New tenants are advised to simply leave them there! This hearsay is even highlighted on the Heritage Walk plaque on the side of the building.
Lovers of Victorian architecture will adore the inside. Pressed tin ceilings and grand mahogany staircase beckon to a bygone era. Also be sure to check out Micki’s on Main, 440 Main’s sister restaurant. It offers a French Quarter style bar with New Orleans verve. Perhaps that’s why ghosts roam this property? They’ve truly captured the spirit of Cajun country.
To view their menu, get directions or make reservations, visit their website: http://www.440main.com.
TEA BAYOU – BOWLING GREEN, KY
Another romantic haunted restaurant in Bowling Green, Tea Bayou, sits adjacent to 440 Main mentioned above. As owner Theresa Shea describes it, “our cafe is heavily drenched in our New Orleans heritage.” She also was recently interviewed for an episode of My Ghost Story about the paranormal activity that occurs within her cafe. You may or may not encounter a ghost while quenching your thirst with one of their coffees, teas, chais or flavored lemonades, cooling off with a freeze, or indulging in one of their decadent bakery items, but the spirit of this restaurant will surely move you to slow down and savor Life’s sweet side.
To view their menu or get directions, visit their website: http://www.teabayou.com.
JOHN CARPENTER’S REEL SITES, REAL SCARY DRIVING TOUR
I did not know until I visited the Bowling Green’s convention and visitor’s bureau site that horror movie making legend John Carpenter (Halloween, The Fog, They Live, etc.) hailed from Bowling Green. While none of his movies were filmed there, they’ve paid him tribute with a driving tour in return for paying them tribute.
You see, Carpenter made reference to the area in his movies using community and street names, such as with the Warren County-Smiths Grove Sanitarium that Michael Myers escaped from. (Bowling Green is in Warren County.)
The driving tour goes past places Carpenter either frequented or resided in. Not sure if any of them are haunted places, but this is a macabre sort of thing a haunt jaunter (and horror movie lover) like me would get a kick out of so I included it.
To get a driving map, stop in the Visitor’s Centers. To learn more about it, check out their website: http://www.visitbgky.com/see/c/museums-heritage/detail/john-carpenters-reel-sites-real-scary-driving-tour.
Mammoth Cave is the longest cave system currently known of in the world. It is a World Heritage Site and is quite the impressive place. When we first moved to Nashville, people would suggest if we wanted to see something neat we head north and check out Mammoth Cave. We did. Several times. Anytime we have visitors or someone asks if we’d like to go, we hop on it. It’s one of the places impossible to get tired of.
According to Troy Taylor, Mammoth Cave may also be the world’s largest haunted place. The cave probably can feel creepy and spooky, but it never has to me. I did, however, sense it was haunted upon my first visit.
I knew even before our first guide spoke of Native American remains that were once discovered in the cave that people had died there. (Well, I could’ve sort of pieced that together anyway since by then I’d already learned the cave had once been used for people with tuberculosis.) Our guide explained how the remains were once on display, but out of respect were taken off of display. I want to say he even said they were later returned to the spot where they had been found. Or maybe I imagined it. After he revealed the remains story I got the distinct sense that something beyond people protesting the decency of displaying remains caused them to stop doing it.
One of the most delicious ghost stories, and one I have heard guides mention if you ask them about ghosts in the cave, is of a girl who died of consumption but is sometimes heard calling for a man she is said to have taken in the caves then left as revenge for unrequited love. She didn’t intend for him to get lost and never come out but he did. She went back every day calling for him, but she got sick and ended up dying.
The cave offers a variety of tours. Some are offered less often or have more limited spaces than others and can sell out quickly, especially in summer months.
To learn more about Mammoth Cave and visiting it, check out its website: http://www.nps.gov/maca/index.htm.
WESTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY
I don’t watch Ghost Hunters anymore, so I did not know an episode in which they’d investigated one of Bowling Green’s haunted places had recently aired. But my contact at the Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau made sure to clue me in, which is how I learned about Van Meter Hall.
It’s on Western Kentucky University’s campus. In fact, it was the first building ever built there. It was built in 1911 and was named for Captain Charles J. Van Meter, a local riverboat captain and developer. It’s now an auditorium. A haunted one at that.
There are different stories that try to explain the ghost. Two versions have it that someone fell. One says it was a construction worker, the other that is was a student hanging lights. The third explanation is sort of Phantom of the Opera-esque. It is said caverns run under the campus (it is cave country after all so this is possible) and that a hermit with a blue lantern living in the caverns comes up into Van Meter Hall and the blue light people claim to see is his.
There’s actually a lot of ghost stories on WKU’s campus, and what’s totally cool is they embrace them. Western Kentucky University’s site has a WKU Ghost Stories section. To read more about the ghost stories, visit the school’s website: http://www.wku.edu/ghosts.
I’d also like to note that apparently Van Meter Hall is on College Hill, which offers a scenic overlook of Bowling Green and is a romantic place for couples to take a walk. In fact, my contact at BG’s CVB said Van Meters’ fountain overlook happens to be a popular wedding venue. Scenic, romantic and haunted? My kind of place!