Research is a form of trailblazing. There are mountains and unexplored regions of data and information. A researcher combs through this wilderness, marking the trail and finding their way to the most scenic and interesting vistas. In publishing, the researcher is publicizing that trail and permanently marking it for their readers and other researchers to follow. In publishing a book, a researcher is establishing a grand trunk line that many will follow and they enable those other intrepid explorers to blaze their own trails from that.
When I first started researching the paranormal a few years ago, I was amazed to find that there were many places where authors had blazed few trails. Major Southern cities like Chattanooga, Tennessee; Montgomery, Alabama; Jacksonville, Florida and Columbia, South Carolina, among others, lacked books and in some cases, even basic resources on their ghosts and hauntings. However, that list has recently gotten shorter with Jessica Penot and Amy Petulla’s recently published Haunted Chattanooga. A trail has finally been blazed through Chattanooga, a city whose ghosts had, until recently, not been fully explored in print.
Penot and Petulla are marvelous guides to Chattanooga’s spiritual side. Among the the locations they discuss are places that have been explored elsewhere, but they include quite a few locations that I’ve not seen discussed. They explore Hales Bar Dam which has very recently become a hotspot for paranormal investigation along with the ghosts of the Chattanooga Campus of the University of Tennessee which could be just as much a hotspot. Here the Hunter Museum’s elderly wraith is documented with a singing spirit in the Thurman Cemetery.
The authors have done a good job at plumbing the depths of Chattanooga’s history of hauntings as well. Legends and stories of haunted places that no longer exist are woven in with modern experiences. Stories of the old Hamilton County jail, which no longer exists, rub shoulders with modern hauntings in the Raccoon Mountain Caverns.
Both authors have a marvelously readable and relaxed writing style. This contributes much to the readers’ journey through the text. Overall, Penot and Petulla have carved a wonderful trail to be followed by future researchers into the haunted heart of Chattanooga.
Haunted Chattanooga By Jessica Penot and Amy Petulla is a part of the Haunted America series by History Press, $19.99.