Today it is my great pleasure to interview Amy Petulla, the owner and founder of the Chattanooga Ghost Tours. They were named by TripAdvisor as one of the top 10 ghost tours in America and they won a 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. Amy is the author of Haunted Chattanooga, which shares all of the biggest haunted events in Chattanooga’s history. I’ve actually known Amy for quite some time as a Chattanooga native and she has also been a family friend of ours for as long as I can remember so it was such a pleasure to get to do this and I am thrilled to be able to share it with you.
I invite everyone to stop by their Little Curiosity Shoppe across the street from the Tennessee Aquarium, it’s where all of their tours begin and it features a variety of exhibits, discount tickets, and souvenirs ranging from spooky Halloween decorations to autographed books and t-shirts.
This interview was recorded live in the Ghost Tour’s Little Curiosity Shoppe in downtown Chattanooga, TN. A lengthier text version can also be read below. Enjoy!
Taylor: Hi Amy, it’s such a great pleasure to have you on the show today.
Amy: Hi Taylor, it’s such a great pleasure to be here.
Taylor: So what got you interested in the paranormal activity and what inspired you to create the Chattanooga Ghost Tours?
Amy: Well, I practiced law for 20 years and when I stopped my kids had always said “why doesn’t Chattanooga have a ghost tour?” We loved taking them in other cities. So when I stopped practicing law, I decided to look to see if there were enough ghosts in Chattanooga to justify starting a tour in the city and sure enough, it turns out there are. There’s actually a woman called the Ghost Hunters Ghost Hunter who says that Chattanooga is the most haunted city next to possibly New Orleans and Savannah so that’s why I started it. So we have something that all the other cities are trying to have.
Taylor: Right. And what is your favorite haunted story that is discussed on your tour?
Amy: Well we have several different stops. Probably my favorite one is underground Chattanooga. The level of the city was raised an entire story to prevent the type of flooding that they had in New Orleans around the turn of the century and since then there have been several sightings of ghosts in the old portion of the city that you can still see. The spot that we use is probably the most active spot on our tour that we have had people see ghosts and see heavy doors open. We’ve had people hear things. We’ve got tons of photos of that location, so that’s probably my favorite location.
Taylor: What do you like most about running the ghost tours?
Amy: I love dealing with all the people. I get to meet so many people, chat with them, and tell them everything that Chattanooga has to offer, not just the ghost tours. I get to hear everybody’s stories. When you own a ghost tour, everyone wants to tell you their own ghost story. I love the ones that start with “I don’t believe in ghost but..!” so I really enjoy that.
Taylor: What’s the craziest experience that any of your guides have ever had?
Amy: Probably…My guide Hope is the one that attracts by far the most ghostly activity and I know her favorite story is about a boy at the underground Chattanooga location that I had mentioned before and he had been pretty young, probably about 4, and he hadn’t been listening to any of the ghost stories at all, he was always over to the side playing when suddenly he got stopped still. Everyone noticed it and he was looking around for his mom. He said “mom, I heard a voice.” And they waited a second and he said “Voice said get out!” And that’s probably my favorite of the stories people have said on the tour.
Taylor: So Amy, a lot of people are wondering, do you really have haunted activities on your ghost tours?
Amy: We do, we’ve had people as I said who have said things and heard things. At one of our extended tours, the guests all watched as Hope’s corset actually got unlaced right in front of them with no one around on our ghost hunt through the campus and the cemetery. We have had the Ovilus X, which is a piece of equipment that talks, answers a ton of names correctly, it’s counted how many people we have in the group and done stuff like that. It’s said things about people’s occupations. It’s said people that our guests were familiar with. About two months ago, our guide was taking people across the street from UTC’s campus into Citizens Cemetery and said “distress, distress!”, which held them up and right then a drunk driver came right around the corner and would have hit them. We have had people see full body apparitions in Patten Chapel there through the window there and in the cemetery we have had many people get pictures of orbs and for a while there we had people saying they saw a dark figure, so yeah we’ve had lots of haunted activity on our tours.
Taylor: So what does Chattanooga have to offer as a haunted destination?
Amy: Chattanooga actually has an abundance of activities for people who are looking for a haunted vacation. A lot of people, when they think of a ghost vacation, think of visiting Savannah. But in Savannah, you can take tours of the same locations with different people. But here in Chattanooga, however, we have a great variety. Of course you can take a ghost tour with us, we also offer ghost hunts through the cemetery. You can stay in a haunted hotel room at the Sheraton Read House, you can stay in a haunted riverboat at the Delta Queen, or you can even stay in a haunted train car at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. If you want to eat at a haunted restaurant there’s the South Side Saloon, if you want other haunted locations – nearby there’s Hales Bar that’s been featured on both Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters, it’s about half an hour from here. Raccoon Mountain Caverns offers their ghost tour once a month. That’s actually the one location where I’ve been where I actually saw something and the only reason I tell that is because there’s a whole room of people that saw it, so it’s not just me, 200 feet underground with all the lights off when a blue orb starts flashing, so Chattanooga has a lot to offer for people looking for that sort of vacation.
Taylor: What are some of your other favorite ghost tours?
Amy: Nashville Ghost Tours was the first one that I ever took and I still like theirs a lot. They, like us, include a lot of history on their tour, as well as a lot of information about the ghosts. Atlanta has a ghost tour called Ghosts of Atlanta and that one is a lot of fun. That’s one where I actually felt something on the tour. I went back later to see if it was actually caused by an electric current nearby and I felt nothing. But the lady who runs that one attracts a lot of haunted things as well.
Taylor: Are there any other haunted locations that you plan on visiting?
Amy: I really want to get to Saint Augustine and Charleston at some point. Those are both very haunted locations. I’ve been to the Savannah tours before but I’ve never been to the Saint Augustine and Charleston tours and we hear about those a lot.
Taylor: Do you have anything new planned for the coming months?
Amy: Well we’ve added some things since we first began. Like I said, we do our ghost hunt, which is more like the investigation with all of our equipment for UTC’s campus and the cemetery. We’ve added an extended tour that offers an extra stop inside the Choo Choo and that is adults only and our cemetery tour is adults only as well, although we do allow kids downtown. The extended tour lasts about an hour longer than the regular one.
As far as what else we’re planning in the future, we’re trying to partner with the places around, we do some combos with Hales Bar. We are trying to get some cool things in our shop to sell. We of course have the Haunted Chattanooga book that we sell and the latest thing we’ve got is DVDs called Ghostly Apparitions where you can actually project ghosts on to your windows or walls that look to me, every bit as good as the ones at the Haunted Mansion down at Disney World.
Taylor: Great and if you’d like to possibly see some of the ghosts or orbs, or even a fully formed figure, for yourself, or maybe even get a picture with one, you can find them online at ChattanoogaGhostTours.com and walking tours occur nightly at 9:00 PM ET during the spring & summer, 7:30 fall, & any other time for groups by arrangement in advance. They tour rain or shine, beginning at their shop at Market & Aquarium (2nd) St, 138 Market St, right across from the Aquarium. Call (423) 821-7125 for reservations. Prices are $15 adults and $10 for children 12 & under.
Have you ever been on a ghost tour? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!