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Lynn Coulter

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Spirited Savannah: Expert tips on the best spooky experiences

James Caskey, founder of Savannah's Cobblestone ToursOur Expert

James Caskey, founder of Savannah’s Cobblestone Tours, has written four books about haunted Southern cities, including Haunted Savannah: America’s Most Spectral City.

Why is Savannah considered the most haunted city in the nation?
It was actually voted “most haunted” by the American Institute of Parapsychology. We’ve had a lot of tragedy here: major Revolutionary War battles, yellow fever epidemics, four major fires, and violent storms.

The Pirates' House, Savannah, Georgia
The Pirates’ House

Photograph courtesy of the Pirates' House

Why do the spirits linger?
There are so many reasons—unrequited love, lives cut short, even mass burial practices; unhappy spirits tend to stick around.

What’s the most haunted site in Savannah?
This question touches off debate. Some say 432 Abercorn Street, others say the Olde Pink House, Hampton Lillibridge House, or the Pirates’ House. There are lots of hauntings packed into our historic district. I’d say the Moon River Brewing Company. Once I was leading a tour in the brewery when I had a choking sensation, like the wind was knocked out of me. No one knows who the spirit is, but it’s angry and violent.

The Olde Pink House

Photograph courtesy of the Olde Pink House

Are there other places where one might experience the paranormal?
I’d go to the Marshall House downtown. It was built in 1851 as a hotel. The Union Army used it as a hospital, and it sat vacant for years before reopening. Guests report the sensation of a hand on their forehead, like someone checking their temperature, and there are reports of seeing Union soldiers on all levels of the hotel.

If you want to book a room that may be haunted, what’s the best place?
17Hundred90 Inn & Restaurant has Anna’s room, number 204. It’s popular, so I do advise you book sooner rather than later. But fair warning: Not all guests can stay all night. Anna is thought to be a servant who worked at the inn and killed herself because of her unrequited love for a sailor. She likes to flush the toilet and make the phone ring. She’s drawn to ladies’ jewelry, and rings will vanish, then turn up later. Maybe she’s looking for the ring she never got.

17Hundred90 Inn
17Hundred90 Inn

Photograph courtesy of 17Hundred90

What other ways can visitors pursue Savannah’s spirits?
Order a meal at the Olde Pink House or 17Hundred90, and while you’re waiting for your food, ask your bartender or server to tell you a ghost story. As for haunted tours, you can take them by trolley, quadracycle, or Segway. You can also walk, do a pub crawl, or even ride in a converted hearse. Some are more history-based or geared toward non-believers. Certainly, there’s a tour for anybody who wants any sort of interaction.

Hail to the King: An Elvis expert gives us Tupelo travel tips

Our Expert

George Booth III manages Tupelo Hardware Company, a fourth-generation family business and major stop on the city’s Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail.

What happened on that fateful day in 1946 when Elvis came into your store?

One of our original hires sold Elvis his first guitar. Elvis came in wanting a twenty-two-caliber rifle for his birthday, but his mother wouldn’t let him have it, and he had to settle for a guitar. This was January 8, 1946. Elvis was eleven. Now we’re the most famous hardware store in the world. Visitors love that we still look a lot like we did when Elvis walked in.

What are other can’t-miss stops on Tupelo’s Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail?

His birthplace is where most people start or end up. The house was tiny; it was made into a visitors center and museum. One of the coolest things is seeing the old church where he went as a child. It’s been moved to the site and has an interactive experience that makes you feel like a revival is going on.
       At Johnnie’s Drive-In, you can sit in Elvis’s old booth and have a burger. Some people also check out his alma mater, Milam Junior High. There are some great old pictures of him there. And they visit the Presley family plot and cemetery where it’s believed Elvis’s stillborn twin brother was buried in an unmarked grave.

Blue Canoe

Tupelo CVB

The Tupelo Elvis Festival takes place June 1–4. What can visitors expect?

It’s definitely a party: Elvis fans like to celebrate. The highlight is the live music during the tribute artist competition, and there’s also a gospel concert on Sunday. Here at the hardware store, we’ll have living history skits with actors dressed like Elvis and his mother.

While Elvis fans are in Tupelo, what are some cool spots you’d recommend checking out?

Blue Canoe, a restaurant and bar known for its blueberry-doughnut bread pudding, is a great place to hear live music. They bring in up-and-coming musicians. And there are a lot of changes going on downtown, like new restaurants and shops opening. Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen is run by young chefs doing cool stuff with cocktails. They’ll roast vegetables, infuse them with vodka or bourbon, and use them in drinks. The same people also own the Neon Pig, a butcher-burger joint.

Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen

Tupelo CVB

Four decades after his death, is Elvis still making new fans?

Of course. Young fans come in, and children know who he is. He’s the King.

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