Savannah

Savannah Tunnels – Underground Railroad, Yellow Fever, Secret Autopsies or Shanghai Route?

The Savannah Tunnels are another curiosity. Running under Savannah are a series of tunnels that have been associated with multiple uses. Some claim the tunnels are part of the Underground Railroad. Other say the tunnels were used to remove victims of the Yellow Fever so as not to cause a panic. Still other cite the tunnels were used to conduct unauthorized autopsies. Could the tunnels have been used for experiments the hospital knew about, possibly even to research yellow fever and other diseases without exposing other patients and hospital staff? If they were renegade autopsies, what was the purpose? Do we have any notes left behind?

The tour I went on was into the 1884 morgue tunnel under Savannah’s old Candler Hospital. I have to admit that the hospital on it’s own in it’s rather decaying state is enough to install some heebie jeebies. I only wish the tour would have gone inside the old building. But anyway, the tunnel we ventured into was just off to the side of the parking lot. It drops down about 8-10 feet via a stone staircase. The ceiling is pretty short, less than 6ft tall that’s for sure. I 5’9 and I thought for sure I was going to hit my head.

You go in about 30 or so feet and it opens up into a larger square room. It’s claimed that autopsies were performed here. There is debate on whether or not those autopsies were authorized. In the corner looks to be the remnants of an old sink, on the other wall is a filled in cutout, and on the opposite wall are two folding swing arms that look like they could hold a fair amount of weight. Although it’s covered up with concrete, the ceiling supposedly had glass insets so natural light could be used. Wouldn’t that put the class in the middle of the street or let people see what they were working on?

If autopsies were done in here, it would be cramped as hell. I suppose you would have enough room for a "subject", a nurse and a doctor. I don’t think you could add anyone else, there just isn’t space.

But if you continue forward there is another corridor that dead ends (pardon the pun). There is some piping clearly visible and another set of stairs. In the photo I have, if you look at the left wall you can clearly see the swing arms. So all totaled you have a tunnel that is around 60 feet long start to finish, with stairs at both ends. It’s mere feet away from the hospital, is in clear view of everyone and everything. What the heck’s the point? Why bother? It would hardly be a secret lair for nefarious medical deeds. I don’t think you’d be fooling anyone by taking deceased patients through this tiny chute. It doesn’t seem to have been with the intention of connecting to anything else. Quite frankly, as it sits, it doesn’t seem to have a practical use at all.

So is this some secret lair? Is it a false start to the Underground Railroad to keep people from finding the real one? Do the tunnels actually connect? Are we sure this isn’t a root cellar or some other "storage" cellar? If there’s natural light, might they be growing plants or herbs for medicinal purposes?

There are lots of claims that there is (or at least was) a continuous tunnel that connects the Pirate House to the river where drunken sailors were shanghaied and loaded onto boats. From what I can tell no such tunnel exists now and there are no "blueprints" that say there ever was. They have certainly found some interesting doors that go nowhere. Or as the case for my tunnel visit, one that starts and immediately ends. So are there really shanghai tunnels or do we have yet another neat story to attract visitors. Couldn’t it have just as likely been a tunnel to store rum? Or gunpowder? Or guns? Or to hide from authorities?

Is there really an Underground Railroad? It was hardly mentioned in anything I’ve seen, read or heard. You would think such a piece of American History would be forefront and people want to show it off as well as see it. I know I would.

So what are these things? Does anyone actually know or have some neat stories been made up about them to fill in the gaps? Is there a tunnel network under Savannah? Could Ground Penetrating Radar help answer the question? Are these simply old trenches that have been turned into something more?

It’s definitely a mystery… but what kind?

 

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Savannah’s Yellow Fever Tunnels

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The Kehoe House – Tragic Scene, Funeral Home, Bed and Breakfast

Another house that seems to be more haunted than its legend allows is the Kehoe house, built by William Kehoe in 1892. Kehoe was an Irishman, served in the Civil War and went to create an successful ironworks. He used his own foundry to create the iron railings, columns and window moldings. Tragedy struck when two young children were killed in the house while playing in one of the room. Apparently there was an incident with the fireplace and chimney. As you may guessed, details are a little sketchy.

It’s hard to say if there are other confirmed deaths. The death of the children is certainly sad, but the house is not rife with additional tragic events. There are reports of children’s laughter as well as the sound of footsteps. It has also been noted by one guest that she woke up in the middle of the night when she felt someone stroking her face and hair. The child vanished.

(Overactive imagination and feeling of her own hair on her face?)

The unusual part of the home’s history comes from its conversion to a funeral home. Yes indeed, it spend some years (it’s hard to say how many) tending to those past. From there it was converted into the bed and breakfast it is today. At one point it was almost destined to be a night club under the hands of Joe Namath. The citizenry didn’t take too kindly to that and the idea was scrapped. It was sold and continued it’s journey of passing through multiple owners.

As stated, it’s a bed and breakfast now and you can book rooms at your leisure. It seems room 201 and 203 have some activity going on, so if you can grab one of those you might be in for a treat.

I’m sure there is more to the place, but as far as tragic histories go, this one has barely a blip. It’s always sad when there is an accident in the home, especially when it involves children. But considering the house was built in 1892 and all the tumultuous times that have come since, it seems the house has gone rather unscathed through history. Is there more to this story? Are there other events just waiting to be uncovered? Does its foreboding nature give rise to flights of fancy? Because it’s old it has to be haunted?

 

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You can find out more about the Kehoe house through this Google search

You can also read more about the house and even book a room right here:

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The Most Haunted House in America? Hampton Lillibridge House

 

It hardly looks the part, but by many accounts this is the most haunted house in America. Depending on who you ask, it’s certainly the most haunted house in Savannah.

The Hampton Lillibridge House at 507 East St. Julian Street, which sits mere yards away from the edge of town near The Pirate House restaurant, looks incredibly unassuming and in fact rather peaceful and tranquil. If it wasn’t pointed out and you weren’t paying attention, you would walk right past and not give a second thought. It’s not made of brick. It doesn’t look all that old. It doesn’t have weathered walls. It doesn’t even have an ominous stature. So what’s the deal?

The house is a restoration project of Jim Williams, of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fame, and was built in 1976. In 1964, William purchased the house and had it moved. Reports say that a worker was killed when part of the roof collapsed during the tricky procedure. Once the house was in place, workers claimed to hear footsteps, voices, laughter and the sound of moving furniture. There are also reports of multiple figures wandering around the house, singing, people dancing and lights turning on and off.

There could be some truth to all the activity as a crypt was found on the property. Some say the crypt was empty, some say remains were found. The story I heard claims bodies were found in the crypt.

Williams himself is claimed to have had experiences in the house. Reports claim he even chased a figure through the house! His attitude toward the house changed and an Episcopal bishop was brought in to perform an exorcism.

All of this took place in 1963, all within the same year of Jim Williams’ restoration efforts. So what goes on there now? Does the same activity still prevail? It’s hard to find any new evidence of the paranormal. All we have are these original reports. Sure, some odd things happened, but considering the length of time that’s passed, are these stories now larger than life? Considering Jim Williams’ ties to voodoo, was he just a superstitious man? Did he just buy an old house that had more creaks and groans than he anticipated? Did he really find a crypt and was it occupied? Is this one of those slave burial grounds that few people speak of?

The same story has been told over and over again. The details are fixed and repeatable. Has rumor turned to legend?

The house is now a private residence and is reportedly up for sale at an asking price of $2.8 million.

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You can always fine more with a search of "Hampton Lillibridge House"

You can also click here: "Savannah’s Most Haunted House"

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A trip to Savannah – a recap

So here’s a quick recap of Savannah, what we did, what we liked and where I think it could be improved.

First of all, the vacation was wonderful. Savannah is a lovely city full of very nice people and excellent food. Even though I think we planned a bunch of activities, we didn’t scratch the surface of what it had to offer. I had a wonderful time and am looking forward to going back. If I had my way, we’d be heading back before the end of the summer.

But here’s what we did pull of:

Dinner at Pirate’s House – Decent food but way over priced for what you get. There is supposedly a ton of lore about the house, but getting anyone to talk about it was more of a challenge than I expected.

Ogelthorpe Trolley Tour – Interesting, but overall not very practical. The tour lacked any sort of real detail, the tour didn’t stop anywhere and the narration wasn’t anything different than what you get in a guide book. And we never used it for transportation after the tour was over. It wasn’t bad, but on my return trip we’ll either walk or bring bikes. It really wasn’t worth the money.

Ogelthorpe Haunted Trolley Tour – Again, an interesting idea, but it lacked detail and excitement. Unless you get scared when someone turns on the lights, this will probably leave you bored. Not on my list of things to do again. I think I’ll give one of the walking tours a try next time. Mind you, there are about 10 different ghost tours available. At the least I’ll do the one for Bonaventure.

Riverboat Dinner Cruise – Loved it! Excellent food, fun atmosphere, good music, attentive staff that want you to have a good. Would love to do it again and will probably do the murder mystery boat ride next. Well worth it. I think this would be fantastic in late summer.

Breakfast at Goosefeathers – Excellent Eggs Benedict, but the place is packed in the morning. It’s affordable and there’s gonna be a line out the door.

Churchill’s – Nice little pub. Very busy. Very tasty Steak and Ale pie. Not a grand selection of beer though. Worth dinner at least once.

DoubleTree Hotel – Very nice and in a great location. It’s right across the street from the river so it’s pretty convenient to everything. Very friendly staff and a convenient pickup point for tours. Careful though, they do charge $15 a day for their valet parking and you can’t say no. This little charge was added to the bill on the last day. Bit of a surprise. I’d stay there again though because I had no issues whatsoever.

Huey’s – We didn’t have dinner, just dessert and drinks. They apparently have a great eggs Benedict, but again, I didn’t try it. That’s on the list for next time. Not a bad selection of beers and it’s right on the water so that’s not too shabby. They have live entertainment as well. I’m certainly willing to head back and give it a full look.

So there you go, that’s my trip. Probably way more information than you ever wanted to know. But, if you’re planning a trip out there it might be of help or at least some interest. As I said, I can’t wait to get back out there. However, I think we’re going to investigate Blackbeard first.

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