I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
December 13, 2017
As soon as we arrive in downtown Knoxville, fat flakes of snow begin drifting down from the sky as if on cue. It lends a decidedly festive feeling to this historic city, already festooned with Christmas lights, ribbons and greenery. We’ve decided to begin our holiday weekend getaway here with lunch at the packed Stock & Barrel, a cozy burger joint where the beef is sourced from a sixth-generation farmer in nearby Grainger County. Lunch can’t come soon enough — We’re all starved and my 10-year-old son has hit a wall. He rests his head on the table in despair, but is miraculously revived when the food arrives. Who wouldn’t be?
Chances are, when you think of Knoxville, you think of the Sunsphere. Built for the 1982 World’s Fair, it never fails to give me a shivery thrill whenever I see it in Knoxville’s skyline — My grandparents lived in Knoxville when I was growing up and I still remember when the Sunsphere was built and the excitement and energy the World’s Fair injected into this formerly sleepy city.
Full, warm, and happy, we totter off to bed — We have a full schedule planned for the next day and want to get plenty of rest.
We notice kids all over downtown Knoxville hunting for elves as we’re shopping — It’s a great holiday activity and especially fitting since the author of the popular Elf on the Shelf book went to college at the University of Tennessee here in Knoxville.
After lunch, it’s back to the hotel to rest — We’ve got a big night ahead of us.
We’re signed up for an evening of ghost hunting with J- Adam Smith, owner and operator of Haunted Knoxville Ghost Tours. We’ve done haunted ghost tours in the past — I love them because they mix education with entertainment. J-Adam’s tours, though, are a little different. He’s a trained paranormal investigator and his tours include both tales of Knoxville’s dark past and a chance to track spirits with his ghost hunting equipment. I’m intrigued.
J-Adam takes us first to the Historic Southern Railway Station and shows us his equipment and explains how paranormal investigators use their equipment to track energy and temperature change. He makes it into a mini-science lesson for the kids, and makes ghost hunting seem fascinating rather than frightening. We visit the baggage room and basement to test out our equipment and get some questionable readings on our gear — but it’s not until we take a walk through the ancient train cars behind the station that things really get interesting.
“What is your name?” he says into the speaker.
“Jim,” a voice crackles from the box.
“Are you a man?”
“Yes,” we hear through the static. At the same time we hear this answer, both J-Adam’s meter and my son’s meter light up like crazy, even though both devices are are simply lying on the bed. Even stranger, my daughter’s flashlight, which I happen to be watching since it’s the only light in the room, turns off by itself. She hasn’t moved in any way and I literally see it turn off at that same moment that we hear the word ‘Yes.’ I’m not really into the paranormal or spirits at all, but I can’t explain this situation — and I am loving it!
I highly recommend a Haunted Knoxville Ghost Tour to families visiting Knoxville with older kids (I’d say ages nine and up). J-Adam does a great job of allowing room to believe — or not believe– in ghosts, and to understand how paranormal investigation works. It makes for a great combination of science and history- with a little bit of spooky on the side.
At this point, our time here is up — We’ve got to return home to Nashville… but we’d love to stay longer. After all, we still have so much to explore! There’s a Christmas-themed train ride! A trendy boutique hotel! A popular zoo! An Urban Wilderness with 50 miles of trails!
We’ll just have to come back.
Thanks to Visit Knoxville for hosting us on our weekend getaway!
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