If you’re attracted to the paranormal, then the sordid history of Hales Bar Dam is one you’ll want to read while keeping a side-eye on the shimmering shadow in the corner. Will Aymerich, Christina Kieffer, and Lisa Shackelford talked about the investigation for their new show, True Ghost Stories, in Sheraton Savannah 1–3 on Saturday morning.
Hales Bar Dam, located in Guild, TN, was the first multipurpose dam of its kind. Construction began in 1905 on land owned by the Hales family, but the engineer made a couple grave mistakes when he decided to build there. He didn’t consider the geology of the land and the dangerous area of the river that it’s located on. Also, the dam is built on predominantly porous limestone, but the problems began long before construction started.
Many years before, the land was cursed by Chief Dragging Canoe when the land was taken from the Cherokee tribe by the white man. The area also held at least two cemeteries that were desecrated and were not relocated.
Tension and tragedy began almost immediately. In 1906 a worker was shot and killed by an unknown gunman, another fell from a rock crusher and was left with multiple injuries including internal trauma, and a boiler explosion with fatalities occurred.
More and more tragedies continued to happen, including murder.
Racial tensions built, and two African American men were killed by two white men who got away with the murders. Guild, the project engineer, died from an ear infection in 1907, before the dam was completed. In 1911 the body of one of the Hales was found run over on the railroad tracks that led to the dam. Authorities didn’t think he was drunk. Another murder happened in 1912. During the construction years, the working conditions were horrendous, and three workers fell into concrete that was being poured, and they were left there.
The bodies piled up, along with rumors that the land was haunted.
In November of 1913, the dam was finally completed at the cost of $10 million. Through the entire project and after completion, it suffered from severe leakage problems. Rag gangs were formed where workers took rags, napkins, hay bales, and corsets to plug the holes and cracks.
Despite the original electric company owners of the dam and the Tennessee Valley Authority spending five decades trying to fix the leakage problem, Hales Bar Dam is now slowly sinking into the Tennessee River and may only be around for another 20 years.
The combination of numerous tragedies, moving water, limestone, and cursed land created a perfect ghost storm. During investigating for True Ghost Stories, the team had multiple creepy experiences.
In what is arguably the scariest encounter, Aymerich was possessed for about 30 minutes and doesn’t remember a single minute of the experience. Kieffer knew something was very wrong when she went to take a picture and he looked straight at the camera flash without blinking or moving. Twice. Next, he played with a lit flashlight for a good quarter hour. She finally had to get him out of the room and the building. When he was out the door, he came back and didn’t know how he’d gotten outside.
Near running water, you can expect there to be some mist hanging in the air. What you wouldn’t expect is that mist to actively follow you as you move about. At the dam, the mist does just that. It even follows you on the way out as you’re trying to leave.
On a lighter note, you just might see a Pac-Man-esque spirit. Aymerich saw a round-shaped figure with little legs. And yes, it freaked him out.
To see more experiences from Hales Bar Dam and other spooky investigation sites, watch for True Ghost Stories episodes to air. As of this writing, there isn’t a confirmed U.S. air date or channel.
In the end, Shackelford believes the veil is thinning, and if you’re sensitive, you can feel that it’s thinning.