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Haunted tour of UT Martin made of local legends

Haunted tour of UT Martin made of local legends
The Shadows of Spirits By day, The University of Tennessee at Martin appears innocent enough. No lingering voices whisper threats in isolated halls; no ghastly apparitions float inches above unsuspecting heads. At night, however, UTM comes alive with the shadows of the dead. On Oct. 1, to celebrate the beginning of the haunted month of Halloween, a small group of UT Martin students organized a Haunted Tour of the campus, telling of the mysterious history of spirit sightings surrounding the University. The tour began in the University Center’s Watkins Auditorium. The brick overhang in the main lobby area of the auditorium originally did not exist, according to the guides. In the 1960’s, an unnamed African American student was supposedly pushed from the second floor; he died three days later. Now, legend states that on the first and third night of the Civil Rights Conference every year, the ghost of the student wanders the lobby of the University Center. Custodians and students have reported a presence inside the locked building, particularly around 3am, a traditional haunting hour. As if this spooky tale needed more, the tour guides led the way to Pacer Pond, a place surrounded by numerous student legends. According to the tour guides, in the 1980’s, a mad scientist attempted to transplant a dog’s head onto the body of a human; legend has it that the transplantation was successful and the man-dog roams the Pond, living in an area of uncut grass near the edge of the water. Citizens and students alike have claimed sightings of the creature; one of the tour guides, in fact, claims to have been grabbed by a mysterious entity. He claims he is “not sure what grabbed [him].” Students on the tour were warned to avoid the edges of the tall grass, where the creature often lurks to surprise its victims. Next, the frightening journey continued to the University quad, the circle of academic buildings that is the center of the University. The history behind the alleged mysterious occurrences in the quad lies in Martin’s own “witch trials.” The tour guides claim that before the existence of the University, a satanic cult was discovered in Martin. The group allegedly held séances and spell conjuring bonfires in a deserted field. When the citizens discovered the cult, they promptly hung the villains; however, just before dying, the cult members uttered these words: “Our altar shall never be desecrated. He who desecrates our altar will be burned by fire.” The exact spot of the supposed altar is Centennial Court, in the very center of the quad. Since then, the guides say, almost every building in the quad has burned down at least once, often burning people alive inside. Finally, the most well known haunted spot on campus is in the fourth floor of Clement Hall. The tour guides described Clement Hall as “one of the most haunted places in West Tennessee;” even tours of UT Martin for aspiring freshman often include tales of Clement Hall. According to the story, in the 1970’s on a stormy night, a young girl elatedly sat in her dorm room thinking about her boyfriend’s marriage proposal that day. Hearing the severity of the storm, the girl decided to walk to her fiancé’s room, also in Clement Hall. She found him kissing another girl. Torn with anguish, the distraught girl ran out of the room, stole into the men’s bathroom, and there hung herself from the shower stalls. Now, the spirit of the unknown girl, nicknamed Caitlyn by students, lurks angrily on the fourth floor of Clement Hall. The tour guides describe the haunting as “a feeling of being watched; the closest to Hell you ever want to be.” Students and faculty have supposedly experienced flickering lights, rattling doors, and threatening whispers when walking the north wing of the fourth floor. UT Martin is considered one of the safest campuses in Tennessee; however, perhaps this graceful place is not as peaceful as it seems. From ancient satanic cults to mysterious suicides, UT Martin holds its own brand of secrets. This Halloween, watch out for the lingering of spirits around the seemingly innocent campus, and be prepared for an experience like no other. WCP 10.07.08

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