A Haunted History of Lookout Mountain and Fort Payne

A Haunted History of Lookout Mountain and Fort Payne
By Emily Kirby

Like many places of the gothic South, Lookout Mountain and DeKalb County are home to several ghost stories and strange sites that intrigue locals and visitors alike. While the spirits that haunt this area do not appear to hold sinister intentions, their stories add an air of mystery to the already secluded and tucked away areas on the mountain. Here’s a brief look at some of the reported hauntings in the Mentone and Fort Payne areas.

  1. Fort Payne Opera House – 510 Gault Ave N, Fort Payne, AL

The Fort Payne Opera House, built in 1890, is not only the site of plays and concerts, but to a spectral entity that lives among audiences. 

The ghostly resident was dubbed “The Phantom” in 2021 by Landmarks of DeKalb, Inc, the organization in charge of caretaking the Opera House. Staff and volunteers say they have experienced many feelings of being watched or being near the entity, and the ghost also began turning on a bathroom sink faucet when people are leaving the theatre. 

Under the operation of Landmarks of DeKalb County Inc, the theatre and the Hosiery Museum are open for tours Fridays from 12-4 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or by appointment.

The Opera House will also be open to the public Oct. 31, 2022 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Visitors can trick or treat and possibly catch a glimpse of The Phantom!

Fort Payne Opera House and Hunt Hall
Canyon Fest Pottery Wheel LRC
Creative Spirit Market DSP
  1. Hitching Post – 6081 AL HWY 117, Mentone, AL

The Hitching Post was originally constructed in 1898 as a general store, and over the years the building has housed many businesses, including a popular dance hall on the second floor.

Little is known about this reported haunting, but some sources say that a female wraith can be spotted on the second floor of the building. 

While currently under construction, The Hitching Post is estimated to reopen early 2023 with a complete renovation and will hold a restaurant, local mercantile, and more! Follow their Facebook page for updates.

  1. DeSoto Falls & DeSoto State Park – 7104 Desoto Pkwy NE, Fort Payne, AL

Many know the stories of Granny Dollar, a local Native American woman whose family evaded the Cherokee Trail of Tears. In her last days, she lived and died on land that is now DeSoto State Park. Granny’s life and memory are intertwined with legend and claims of the old woman being a midwife, folk healer, fortune-teller, and conjurer. Whatever aspects of the legends of Granny Dollar reside in truth are overshadowed by the mysticism surrounding her final years, where she lived out her last days with her 20-year-old dog, Buster, in a cabin located off of County Road 89 near the DeSoto State Park North Entrance. At her death in 1931, Granny Dollar requested her remaining money be used to purchase a tombstone for her own grave, but thieves stole the $23 she had left. It wasn’t until decades later that Granny Dollar was given a proper headstone. Until then, local residents and visitors to the park reported seeing an old woman walking her dog near DeSoto Falls. Now, some say they still see Buster in the woods in the park among the trees, but his owner is at rest.

DeSoto Falls
  1. Battelle – 5 miles north of Valley Head

The ruins of the Battelle, once a bustling mining town in the early 1900s, now only remain as a ghost town filled with brick and lumber, but no buildings. The settlement once held hundreds of houses, a school, commissary, a hotel, and post office, along with the furnace and coke ovens. After the mines were no longer of use, the homes and buildings were sold and the town was deserted. 

Since then, many people have reported hearing screams and noises from the property. Several railroad deaths were reported in local newspapers at the time, along with shootings and robberies. At the furnaces, it was reported that Drew Hester died in 1906 when a pot containing three tons of melted slag was accidently overturned onto him.

Whether the sounds heard from what remains of the town are simply nature or the spirits of those who met a tragic end, Battelle is a ghostly fixture in DeKalb County’s past.

Note: Battelle sits on private property and it is strongly advised to not enter the area due to safety concerns from wildlife and the ruins itself.