The Hales Bar Dam
MVP's Paranormal RESEARCH - The Hales Bar Dam
The Hales Bar Dam Fiasco and Report
MILITARY VETERANS PARANORMAL·WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20, 2016
On 9 January 16, MVP joined Paraskeptix on an investigation of Hales Bar Dam in Guild, TN. Hales Bar Dam has been featured on many paranormal television shows, most notably “Ghost Adventures.” Our scheduled time for the investigation was to be 1500-0300 (3:00 p.m. - 3:00 a.m.), and we were told we would have the luxury of being the only people on the property during those hours, with exception to the Ghost Hunt Tours owner, “Storm”, which cost $300.00 for the twelve hour investigation. Payment was sent weeks in advance. We drove over three hours in poor weather conditions and arrived at the location at 1445, fifteen minutes ahead of schedule.
This report addresses the investigation, treatment of our teams, and the claims that were told to us by Storm, his team, as well as the information that has been widely circulated on television shows, team pages, and websites.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by Storm and his “team”. He informed us that they needed to do a “safety inspection” before we started. This should have been done PRIOR to our arrival to ensure our safety before we stepped foot inside the location. At this point, no waiver of liability was mentioned nor signed. We were also told that after the safety inspection, we would have a guided tour of the location. We accompanied Storm and his team on the Safety inspection and documented the various safety hazards on video. In total, we spent close to an hour and a half doing the walk through with a guide. This wasted a significant amount of time that we were paying for.
There were many, many hazards at the location which was somewhat expected considering all that remains of the Hales Bar Dam is the power house, which is severely dilapidated with numerous broken windows, weak flooring with holes in some areas, hand railings on stairs that are not secured, moldy floors and walls, and makeshift stairs in some areas. Additionally, there were remnants of empty beer cans, beer bottles, and other trash strewn about the place. Although it was explained to us that renovations were impossible due to the location being registered in the National Registry of Historic Places, that does not, nor should it, excuse the owner to allow it to be used as a garbage dump.
During the safety inspection tour, the guides gave us the “history” behind the location. When asked where they got the history, we were told that a historian gave them the information. When pressed for the name of the historian, we were told they knew her name was “Nomi” (or something of that nature) who was 81 years old and a guest of a tour. She claimed to have been a child at the time the dam was constructed and her father helped build it. They provided no documentation or substantiation for any of the claims they relayed to us during the tour. (We called the county historical society after the investigation, and they have no record of anyone with that name or any similar name working with the historical society. They also stated were unaware of any volunteers with that name.)
One of the tour guides was clearly drunk upon our arrival; he smelled strongly of alcohol and was slurring his words at one point. It is important to note that we later saw the tour guides carry two six-packs of beer with them into the main building where investigators stay in between investigation/evp sessions. By early evening, they did not even try to hide the fact that they were drinking on site, as they kept their open beer cans out in the open and we actually saw them drinking beer. We found this to be completely unprofessional as well as a a serious safety concern.
Within the first two hours of our arrival, we were still unable to begin our investigation as another team “Shadows Paranormal Investigations,” who also function under the name “Shadows Ghost Tours,” arrived at the site. Although we had paid for the time and were assured we would be the only team on the site, this other team was already in the tunnels. We were told they would only be there for 15 minutes and that they were there to measure distance for cord length as they were planning on filming there. However, we timed how long they were there, which was 54 minutes. At no point did they introduce themselves to us and at no point did they inform us of their intent to be on site for any length of time. We found this to be not only rude and inconsiderate, but completely unprofessional. We observed them walking through the tunnels and could hear them throughout the building, as the sound carries ridiculously throughout the entire structure and tunnels due to poor acoustics, holes in floors and walls, and open space. At the time, Storm told us he was upset that they were there as he claimed he was unaware they were planning on being at Hales Bar Dam while we were there. He apologized repeatedly saying, “This is not how we conduct business.” However, we later discovered that Shadow Paranormal Investigations is the team that hosts the “Ghost Hunts” for Storm at Hales Bar Dam. Storm also informed us that they paid him $2000.00 to be there and are a part of his project. However, a quick look at both Hales Bar Dam website and the Shadow Paranormal Investigations website shows that SPI is the in-house team for the location, and therefore they should already have working knowledge of the location and should not have been there at the same time as us, considering we rented the location for a designated amount of time. Furthermore, it shows that they have an inter-working relationship, as each entity endorses the other for profit. After 54 minutes, they finally left the site.
At approximately 2000 another group of individuals showed up at the location and we were told by Storm that it was the actual owner’s daughter and her friends who were there for a ghost tour and séance. They stayed at the location, at times in the building and in the tunnels which connects to the building, for approximately two hours, again during our paid time. We could not proceed with our investigation while they were there because we could hear them loudly talking and laughing throughout the entire time they were on site. At one point, one of our team members whistled on the third floor and we could hear the ladies in the tunnels claiming they heard the whistle, mistaking it as paranormal phenomena. This double booking was not just unprofessional, but completely disrespectful to both of our teams that traveled long distances and paid a significant amount of money to reserve the location. Storm also offered to have us back and offered to pay for it, as well as pay for a cabin for us to stay in, with the hopes that we did not give him a bad write-up. However, neither MVP nor Paraskeptix can be bribed and that was further insult to the integrity of both of our teams.
CLAIMS A strong issue we have with this location is the historical/documented inaccuracies with the paranormal claims. Because of this, we will provide the documents to support our opinions.
1. Native American curse: According to our tour guides of Hales Bar Dam, as well as numerous paranormal sites, “the dam is cursed by Native Americans.” It is claimed that Chief Dragging Canoe was upset over the sale of Native land with the white settlers and he put a curse on the land in protest.
Most paranormal groups cite Chief Dragging Canoe’s statement of “a dark and bloody ground” to support such claims of a curse. Additionally, as we were told on our tour, the dam was built on Native American burial ground, hence the curse.
The Native claims are completely false. We called the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Middle Tennessee State University, who informed us that the above claims were nothing more than myth and urban legend. The dam was never on Native burial ground but it was prime hunting ground. A secondary call to the Tennessee Valley Authority also confirmed that they have nothing to suggest the area that was flooded was Native burial ground, although they did admit that when the dam was released, it flooded a nearby cemetery. Furthermore, we spoke to a professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, as well as a representative at the Native American Indian Association of Tennessee, who both confirmed that Dragging Canoe did not “curse” the land. According to the professor at UT, Dragging Canoe’s statement was referring to parts of Kentucky and Middle Tennessee as being “dark and bloody ground” when he informed Native chiefs that the white man was purchasing “dark and bloody ground.” The term “dark and bloody ground” meant that it was land that had already had many battles on it and would have more in the fight over Native lands. At no point is there any historical documentation to even suggest that he was ‘cursing’ the land. In fact, that myth was actually address in A. Gwynn Henderson’s book, Dispelling the Myth: Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Indian Life in Kentucky, as it that specific quote is directly related to Kentucky History. (References and links are provided at end of report.)
2. There are claims that the whirlpool is notoriously named “The Suck” and is the site where Native Americans could see their ancestors being sucked down into the water.
This claim is also historically inaccurate and false. There were no Native Americans on the property as the dam was being built. The whirlpool is very tiny and we’ve found no reference, either in any historical documentation or books written about the dam, to “the suck.” Most likely the whirlpool is created by the Tennessee River flowing through a portion of the power house. Any time water flows through a narrow path, it forms at least a partial whirlpool. Seeing as there are still metal turbines still in the water underneath the power house, a small amount of water is pulled into an opening of the turbine by gravity, thus causing the water to spin. This can create the mini whirlpool.
Furthermore, the SPI website states that the dam was built in 1905 and it’s purpose was to keep the whirlpools at bay. This is absolutely incorrect. According to the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, “ In order to improve navigation on the Upper Tennessee and provide electricity to the city of Chattanooga, Jo Conn Guild Sr., a Chattanooga engineer, promoted the construction of a privately funded lock and dam which would be turned over to government management in return for the hydroelectric output for a specified period.”
3. We were told that the original engineer of the dam committed suicide in the main office. This story is completely fabricated. The original engineer of Hales Bar Dam was Josephus (Jo) Conn Guild. He died at his home of an illness. This was even reported in the Vanderbilt University Quarterly, Volume 7, pg. 71, which was published in January, 1907.
Taken from the Vanderbilt University Quarterly, Volume 7, pg. 71, January 1907
4. We were told that there were twelve confirmed bodies cemented in the walls. At the time, the tour guide explained that accidents happened and people would fall into the cement and there was nothing anyone could do to save them. Their bodies forever remained sealed in the walls of the cement.
A thorough scanning of death records from 1905-1913 and then expanded to include 1914-1915 in Marion County, TN as well as per the county historian for Marion County, there is no evidence to support these claims and there have never been “confirmed” bodies cemented into the walls. Furthermore, the dam’s construction was considered big news at the time and any deaths and then subsequent cementation of the body would have made headline news in the county. Although we spent two weeks scouring through newspaper archives for years between 1905-1915, we could not find any reports of anyone dying in the concrete inside the power house construction, nor were there any reports of anyone being sealed in the walls. Without any supporting documentation, these claims are nothing more than urban legend.
5. We were told there are no original plans or blueprints of the dam available. When we asked for a copy of the blueprints/plan of the construction of the dam, we were informed that there were no copies and that no one knows what happened to them. We were also told by the tour guide that the “legend” is that the original engineer destroyed them so that no one else could finish the dam. This claim is false. The construction of the Hales Bar Dam is meticulously documented with the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, where there are two boxes (ID NMAH.AC.1051) which spans 1905-1968 and includes papers, reports, drawings and photographs related to the construction of the dam, as well as documents related to its maintenance in the decades following its completion. Additionally, many of the blueprints of the dam can be found online.
6. Numerous claims of EVPs captured of a little girl, people talking, chants, and singing. It is impossible to get any legitimate audio data in the location. Although one might claim to have captured an EVP, it cannot be used as evidence as the acoustics in the building and the tunnel (which is actually just under a mound that is level with the building) are terrible. We could hear people talking in the tunnels all the way up on the third floor. There are no doors or any insulation to absorb noise. Likewise you could hear the steps of individuals in the tunnels from the third floor. Sound bounces off the walls to the point where it echoes every time someone speaks or moves. Because of the broken windows and holes in the flooring, one can hear all the noise from outside, to include the splashing of the Tennessee River, wildlife, cars, boats, and anyone who talks outside of the mini-store across the road. We heard the music and people talking from the cabins in the marina. Birds consistently fly into the area where boats are stored and drops of rain and the leaking roof could be heard throughout the building and echoed into the “crossroads” (the four-way area where the tunnels connect).
7. The Ghost Tours owner, “Storm”, admitted that the stories about Hales Bar Dam were fake and created to sell more tickets to the ghost tours. Storm admitted several times throughout the evening that the stories about the Hales Bar Dam, to include the six above mentioned, were false and created to sell more tickets to his ghost tours. This was stated to the two members of Paraskeptix as well as in front of MVP team members. He additionally stated that his intent was to charge much higher for paranormal teams wanting to conduct overnight investigations and that he was planning on hosting three ghost tours per day for the location. His reasoning behind this was because “this pays my mortgage and car note.” On the SPI website, they state that Hales Bar Dam “is the real deal”. However, we learned after we spent our money and wasted three hours driving to the location, that the owner was knowingly deceiving the public and pushing out false information as being historical fact in order to sell tickets to his ghost hunt. He further reiterated several times he did not want a bad review, reflecting that he was well aware that we were going to publicly review/publish our findings of his location. Storm provided us with a full refund of our money as well as issued an apology to both of our teams for the unprofessionalism displayed by those employed by him:
CONCLUSION: It is our opinion that the Hales Bar Dam is a pay to play location that falsified historical information and claims in the hopes to generate ticket sales for ghost tours. We could find no evidence or documentation to support any claims of any paranormal phenomena. The owner of the Ghost Tours admitted the claims were to bolster ticket sales.
Dragging Canoe. (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2016, from
Hales Bar Dam. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2015, from https://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/hales-bar-dam/ . Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.
Henderson, A. G.. (1992). Dispelling the Myth: Seventeenth- and EighteenthCentury Indian Life in Kentucky. The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, 90(1), 1–25. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/23382492
PDF link to Myth of Dark and Bloody Ground: (link has been removed)
Rogers, J. D., PhD., P.E., P.G. (n.d.). Hales Bar Dam and the Potential Pitfalls of Constructing Dams on Karse Foundations [Scholarly project]. Retrieved December 27, 2015, from (link has been removed). Missouri University of Science and Technology
Tennessee State Museum, Dragging Canoe. (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2016, from (link has been removed)