The CSI Paranormal Road Trip is drawing to a close, as Rebecca, Jon, and Richard spend their last day before CSICon stopping to investigate one of the most well-known haunts in the country—Bell Witch Cave. If you are one of the two people not going to CSICon (hey, I’m the other one), you can still follow along on Twitter and stay tuned for wrap-up posts and more details about how, when, and where you find out what really happened on the road.
If you’re just getting caught up, you can find out more about the previous days’ stops here. (These are just descriptions of where they were headed. They’ll be sharing their stories live at CSICon this Friday, at 5:15. (See the full conference schedule here.)
DAY 5, STOP 1: Bell Witch Cave, Adams, TN
The legend of the Bell Witch goes back about 200 years, and although details vary (as they usually do), the gist of the story centers on the haunting of the Bell family, particularly John Bell and his youngest daughter, Betsy.
It began with their seeing strange animals on their property and hearing sounds but soon escalated to physical attacks by an unseen force. At some point, the story goes, this ghost began to speak and respond to questions. Of multiple identities, the one that stuck was that of the witch Kate Batts, a former neighbor.
The Bell Witch continued to torment the family, and stories abound about other witnesses to the presence, including an account by President Andrew Jackson. In some stories, she left after poisoning John Bell, returning at various times throughout the years. Other stories suggest an ongoing presence. In some stories, she seems almost helpful at times—telling the future, passing the soap—and she’s frequently described as “pranking” the family, although these pranks seem an awful lot like assaults and physical abuse . . . you know, by the “witch.”
The Bell cabin on the site today is a reconstruction, but elements from the original cabin are on display. I think the cave is part of the tour because it was there at the time, unlike the cabin, and because it helps add more creepy ambience, Indian burials, and no doubt endless opportunities for pareidolia. According to some accounts, the Bell Witch clearly haunts that cave today. There really is no way to explain so many people’s pictures turning out dark. Pictures from the tour. Inside a cave.
DAY 5, STOP 2? Judgement House, Somewhere in TN
The Bell Witch Cave is the last scheduled stop on the trip, but word on the tweet is that they might stop by a Judgement House, which is the latest church branding for what used to be called a Hell House, a “haunted house” intended to scare the beJesus into you, essentially by showing various scenes of sins that will lead to eternal damnation—you know, like being gay, punished with AIDs, having an abortion, or letting yourself get raped.
So this is a potential stop with so much possibility for that bizarre combination of hilarity and mortification that over-the-top, offensive church creations are so good at evoking.
Stay tuned on Twitter or find out at CSICon, which starts tomorrow in Nashville and will be packed with skepticism, science, costumes, and moonshine. If you haven’t registered yet, it’s not too late. You can even get just a day pass, although that seems a little masochistic.
Click here for registration details, or if you can’t go, follow everyone’s tweets at #csicon.
Featured Image: Wayne Hsieh