The South is a mecca for paranormal investigation.
With a rich history from the Civil War era, the legends of fallen soldiers have nearly become a cultural identity, with rumors of hauntings prevalent throughout the region.
"The South has a mix of religious influences, Roman Catholicism, deep seeded Protestantism and a foundation of Native American beliefs along with the African and Caribbean beliefs brought in by slaves," Lewis Powell IV, ghost researcher and founder of the blog site Southern Spirit Guide, said. "All of these mixing together brings a lot of the oral tradition of ghosts and ghosts stories."
Powell said Tennessee is considered one of the most haunted states, boasting 158 paranormal societies primarily focusing on East Tennessee.
"Ghost hunters are investigating everything from Knoxville all the way up to Johnson City," Powell said. "East Tennessee State University is another university just crawling with ghosts. A lot of these towns and cities have at least a handful of fairly well-documented hauntings."
Chris Harder, a member of Appalachian Paranormal Investigations, agrees that Tennessee is brimming with mystery for the avid ghost hunter. Conducting free investigations of ghost legends and modern hauntings of families and buildings, the Appalachian Paranormal Investigators perform 10 to 20 explorations per year.
But Harder acknowledged that classic ghost legends have become greatly exaggerated over time.
"The older a place tends to be, the less accurate the story is because it's been passed down from generation to generation," Harder said.
Often, Harder confessed, his team concludes the suspicion of a supernatural presence was caused by an ordinary source of noise or disturbance. However, Harder maintained that evidence supporting ghosts or hauntings, if collected, is irrefutable.
"The best way to get a response is to ask questions with an electromagnetic field detector, because anytime something can manipulate a magnetic field that's not normal, it's paranormal," Harder said. "Every living being, humans and animals, give off a slight magnetic field. Once you are no longer in a body, you can then start to manipulate that field to make it grow bigger or thicker."
To combat skepticism, Harder and his team are careful to ensure that the source of the magnetic field is not coming from a living presence in the room. By asking a series of repetitive questions at different intervals, API monitors the type of magnetic field produced in response. Theoretically, this method allows the investigators to carry a conversation with haunting spirits.
Although Harder's team remains unsure about the actual cause of paranormal activity, he noted the validity of popular theories.
"There's some belief that it may be a different dimension that we are dealing with," Harder said. "Other beliefs are that these people just have unfinished business and there's something keeping them here, nagging at them to stay."
Torn between devout religious beliefs and a fervor for ghostly tales, Harder said he finds the South a perfect location for investigating the paranormal.
"Everybody knows everybody, and everybody knows everything about everybody," Harder said. "The stories are so amazing in the South and that just makes the heritage so much greater. The people around here make it more interesting than the actual stories, because they know the names and the entire history behind any legendary ghost."