"Gone but not forgotten" is a common epitaph, but the sad truth is that the people buried under these gravestones are inevitably forgotten eventually. The cemeteries containing those gravestones will eventually be forgotten as well, maybe even before they are gone. In honor of Halloween month, we compiled a list of some of the area's mysterious and lesser known cemeteries. If you're afraid of death or being forgotten, you may find them a bit scary. And for those who believe in ghosts, we've also included a few Chattanooga cemeteries that are rumored to be haunted by souls who insist on being remembered.
Aetna Mountain Cemetery
Located on Aetna's Marion County side near the community of Whiteside — previously known as Running Water, when the area was part of the Cherokee Nation prior to Cherokee removal in 1835 — Aetna Mountain Cemetery is one of the area's oldest. The graveyard is surrounded by land that was once an old pine tree farm but is now barren land, which adds to the sense of abandonment, as do the hand-carved gravestones that reveal themselves above the overgrown brush.
The cemetery is the final resting place of residents of the once-thriving mining community on Aetna, now known mainly as an off-roading destination. The gravestones date back to the early- to mid-1800s, but there are burial sites that go back much further, says Keith Harper, a Chattanooga resident otherwise known as "The Cemetery Detective" who studies graveyards across the world.
Kings Point Cemetery
Another of Harper's discoveries is Kings Point Cemetery, also called the Old Silvey Cemetery, which dates back to the mid-1800s and remained a popular cemetery into the early 1900s. It fell into disuse when TVA acquired the property, with the last burial occurring in 1941, Harper says.
There are no known reports of hauntings here, but there is a creepy story associated with the cemetery. It involves a gentleman whose wife was buried in the cemetery's mausoleum in the early 1900s. "The story goes that he maybe wasn't particularly kind to his wife when she was alive, and I guess after her passing he felt some remorse about this," Harper says. So he came back on a weekly basis to change her dress, as any decent husband would, until the body decayed.
Beck Knob Cemetery
Thought to be the first organized Black cemetery in Chattanooga, Beck Knob Cemetery is located on a steep hillside on Dartmouth Street in North Chattanooga. It was donated by the Beck family (that family's gravestones can be found on the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club golf course) for the use of freed slaves to bury their dead. Though well known among residents of the area, a developer claimed to have discovered it when clearing land to build new homes.
Long Cemetery No. 2, aka the underwater cemetery at Mullins Cove
When Hales Bar Dam was built in 1913, the water rose and surrounded the cemetery in Mullins Cove that historians call Long Cemetery No. 2. After Hales Bar was replaced by the Nickajack Dam, the soil eventually eroded and the graveyard is now underwater, though three gravestones are still visible.
Skull Island Cemetery
The Skull Island Cemetery near Sequoyah nuclear power plant contains bodies originally buried in an area that was flooded when the Chickamauga Dam was built. The cemetery is among the 555 moved by TVA from areas flooded by its reservoirs. There's a campground here, so if you're looking for a creepy night amongst the dead you may have found your spot.
Some spooky local cemetery lore
The Greenwood Cemetery’s “Green Lady” is one of Chattanooga’s most well-known ghost stories. It involved a well-to-do gentleman, who lived across from the lake at Greenwood Cemetery. His wife fell ill and became wheelchair-bound, during which time the man found himself a mistress. He then decided to murder his wife by pushing her into the lake in her wheelchair. Legend has it that she rises out of the lake in the form of a shadowy green mist.
Chattanooga Memorial Park, previously known as White Oak Cemetery, is said to be home to a shadowy figure that some say they have seen on the steps under the stone archway on the hill, seemingly waiting on someone. Perhaps he is waiting on you.