Claims of Paranormal Activity
at Hales Bar Dam
- Shadow figures are seen in the building
- Loud footsteps have been heard
- Visitors to the tunnels claim to hear and record ghostly voices
- Cold spots have been encountered in the tunnels
- People report having their shirts tugged and hair pulled
- Voices of children have been heard throughout the dam
- Mists around the whirlpool reportedly follow visitors around
- Ghostly hands are said to reach out of the whirlpool and grab people
Troubled History of Hales Bar Dam
Just north of Guild, Tennessee, at the end of the long driveway running through Hales Bar Marina & Resort, is a long, dark building with an even longer, darker past. The Hales Bar Dam Powerhouse is all that remains of the demolished Hales Bar Dam, once a pivotal structure in power production and river navigation.
Although the old dam is mostly gone, some say ghosts linger in what remains. From the specters of workers killed on the job to the listless spirits from flooded grave sites, ghost stories abound at Hales Bar Dam today, with many calling it one of Tennessee’s most haunted places.
Timeline of Hales Bar Marina and Dam's History
Swipe or use timeline points to see Hales Bar Marina and Dam through the years
Devised in the late 1890s, Hales Bar Dam’s first designs were made up for a dam that would flood the Tennessee River Gorge and provide smooth navigation through a previously impassable stretch of river. With a plan to have the new dam control navigation and provide hydroelectric power, construction began on Hales Bar Dam in 1905, but soon ran into problems.
The dam was meant to open in 1909, but by 1910 only the lock and powerhouse were done. The project would not finish until 1913.
After Hales Bar Dam finally started operations, new problems quickly mounted for the structure. Leaks began to appear in the dam almost immediately after operation began, and by 1919, engineers had to repair the dam with anything available, from asphalt to old mattresses.
But this did little to solve the dam’s numerous problems. By 1931, less than 20 years after the dam first started operating, it was leaking at a rate of 1,000 cubic feet per second.
In 1939, Hales Bar Dam came under the control of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The TVA soon started work repairing the dam’s increasingly serious leaks. It took over four years, but by 1943, TVA workers had succeeded in finally stopping the leakage from the dam.
Unfortunately, their work was only temporary, and by the late 1950s, leaks reappeared in the dam, leaking at over 2,000 cubic feet per second. Research into these leaks found they were interconnected, suggesting the dam could soon fail completely.
In 1963, a new dam was ordered to be built to replace Hales Bar Dam, and work began the following year. Completed in 1967, the Nickajack Dam brought an end to Hales Bar Dam’s functional life, and on December 15, Hales Bar ceased operations completely.
Generators and other essential components from Hales Bar were moved to the new dam, and by late 1968, most of the dam structure had been demolished. Only scant ruins and the powerhouse structure remained, though several sections of the powerhouse soon flooded.
Today, Hales Bar Dam is part of the Hales Bar Marina & Resort complex, with the old powerhouse nestled closely between boat slips on one side and floating cabins on the other. Some sections of the powerhouse are used for dry docking and storage, while much of the remaining area was left empty.
Tours have become popular, and many tourists have since left Hales Bar Dam with claims of ghostly encounters. Guests and paranormal investigations over the years have suggested Hales Bar Dam might just be haunted by its long, rough past.
Hales Bar Dam’s Ghostly Curse
Long before Hales Bar Dam existed, the land it would be built on seemed destined for trouble. Following the 1775 Treaty of Sycamore Shoals, when the Transylvania Company procured 20 million acres of land from Native American tribes in the region, a Chief who disagreed with the treaty cursed the land to be dark and bloody if anyone ever settled there.
And, while Hales Bar Dam was being built, that curse seemed to come to fruition, with reports suggesting hundreds of workers dying while building the dam between 1905 and 1913.
Even after the dam was completed, it continued to cause deadly trouble. It is claimed that several children were killed by a sudden leak in the dam while passing through a small tunnel nearby on their way to school. And after some particularly bad leaks in the 1960s, local cemeteries were permanently flooded, with all the bodies and headstones remaining.
Hales Bar Dam’s Haunting Footsteps
The sounds of ghostly footsteps are also commonly reported throughout the old Hales Bar Dam powerhouse. Sometimes, they’re said to echo from far off in the distance, while others report hearing loud footfalls very near them.
At some points, these nearby footsteps are said to be matched with visible bursts of dust from the floor, allowing people to see exactly where the supposed spirits are walking.
Phantom Voices from Hales Bar Dam
Disembodied voices are often heard echoing through the empty spaces of Hales Bar Dam. The voices and cries of children have been heard in the building, and even the sound of children chanting has been heard.
Voices are a particularly common claim in the tunnel area of the dam, with audible voices captured during EVP recordings being collected by investigators. Intense cold feels have also hit people who visit the tunnels, said to sometimes accompany the area’s disembodied voices.
Grabbed by Ghosts at Hales Bar Dam
Some ghostly interactions at Hales Bar Dam have taken physical turns as well, with some visitors and investigators claiming to be touched and grabbed by unseen forces. Some have said they feel their shirt sleeves get pulled or their hair played with as they move through the dam complex.
Others have reported encounters around an open whirlpool, claiming that phantom hands reached out of the swirling water and tried to pull them in. Additionally, the mist that hangs around the whirlpool is said to shift in strange ways, as if its following people around or being passed through by invisible entities.