GHOSTS OF THE PRAIRIE
THE PHANTOM MONK
While the building this lost monk haunted has long since been torn down, the site that caused this spirit to walk can still be seen today. The location is now marked by a building that is the local Coon Hunters Association but many years ago, it was the scene of a horrible accident.
The tragedy happened in 1867 during a terrible flood. The rising and violent waters of the Hiwassee River washed out a section of railroad tracks outside of Charleston. Not realizing the tracks were out because of the storm, a passenger train derailed and fell into a ravine. A rescue party hurried to the scene but it was too late for many of the passengers. There was no hospital in the small town so injured passengers were taken to private homes...while the unluckier ones were laid to rest in a makeshift morgue inside of the local train depot. The list of the dead grew as the volunteers worked around the clock. The local doctor did everything he could to help the injured and finally he collapsed from stress and exhaustion.
When it was all over, dozens were dead and bodies were pulled from the ravine for several days after the wreck. All of the bodies were eventually recovered... except for one, that of a young Catholic monk from Baltimore.
No one knew why his body was not found..... except for the local doctor. For some reason, the doctor had stripped the flesh from the monk's body, boiled and bleached his bones and made a skeleton to hang in his office. Why he chose this particular young man is unknown.... but what we do know is that the monk started haunting the doctor's office a short time later.
Most of the sightings took place in the building where the doctor's office was located and Dr. J. Lake McClary, the town doctor in later years, encountered this miserable spirit on several occasions.
In 1932, the building where the office had been was demolished and the crew found a mysterious set of items hanging from a stud between the walls.... a brown monk's habit and a rosary.
Charleston, Tennessee is located in the southeast part of the state, northeast of Chattanooga. The train derailed near the present site of the Coon Hunters Association building.
Copyright 2001 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.
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