Travel up I24 from Nashville and you'll soon find yourself in Clarksville
, the fifth largest city in Tennessee, neighbor to Fort Campbell, and the home of several ghosts.
Clarksville's Austin Peay University
was founded in 1927 but sits on property that has been used for educational purposes for well over 180 years, so it's no wonder that it claims to be haunted. In fact, one of its ghosts is said to be its own namesake, Governor Austin Peay. He's occasionally been seen strolling around the University grounds as if to check up on how things are going. Other ghosts and haunting-type activities have been reported in Browning Hall, Elizabeth Hall, and the English and History departments.
The University's Trahern Theater has had so many spooky occurrences that the ghost there has been given the name of Margaret. Apparently Margaret enjoys riding the elevators, locking doors, banging lockers and occasionally calling out someone's name if she feels they're in her theater too late. Of course, the local legend is that Margaret was a young student who tragically lost/took her life due to a love gone wrong, but that story is famous on many campuses around the nation and has yet to be confirmed by school or newspaper records.
Overlooking the Cumberland River is the Smith-Trahern Mansion. Christopher Smith, prominent Clarksville businessman, tobacco farmer and riverboat captain, built the house for his wife and family, and Mrs. Smith would sit in the window and watch for her beloved husband's return when he was away on business. Sadly, one of Captain Smith's trips to New Orleans coincided with a yellow fever outbreak, and he died while there. Mrs. Smith was heartbroken and continued watching out her window, waiting for her husband's body to come home via the river he so loved. The tragedy was compounded, however, when the riverboat carrying the Captain's body exploded, and his remains were never found. Mrs. Smith never recovered and sat in her window every day until she died. It's said she still sits there today.
The first floor of Clarksville's old Gateway Hospital has a ghost, with no legs! This spirit has been seen walking past a door, but he ends at the thighs.
Just off Hwy 41A stands an old home that was once owned by a slave owner. Local legend states the wealthy planter had a daughter who fell in love with a slave, and a child was conceived during their relationship. When it became impossible to hide her pregnancy any longer, the daughter, in shame, told her father she'd been raped. In a fit of rage, the father brutally killed the slave. Today, there are reports of ghost lights and footsteps, which are attributed to the slave either looking for his child or hoping to avenge his death.
If you know of other Clarksville ghosts, please share, and we'll check them out.