Downtown Knoxville, like the heart of many Southern cities, has a long history–and quite of few ghosts. Although Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee is mainly concerned ghosts and haunts, and a curse does not quite qualify as a haunting, it is in the realm of the paranormal nonetheless. In this case, the Curse of the White Mule was localized to a certain block of downtown Knoxville. It goes back to the mid-nineteenth century, when the Gypsy Circus once came to town. While the details of the story vary depending on who you listen to, the upshot was that the side-show’s prize display–a white mule–died unexpectedly while visiting Knoxville. The gypsies blamed the local folk for their the death of their valuable side-show freak; in revenge, they cursed the area and departed town in a huff.
Now people getting angry and cursing out certain people or places is not all that unusual; but when the curse comes true, it tends to get your attention. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, this area of downtown Knoxville had a series of uncanny fires break out, some quite severe. Since then, other weird disasters have happened which some say are also due to the Curse of the White Mule.
They say that libations will stave off the curse and in fact there is a tavern in the heart of downtown Knoxville where you may quaff a White Mule ale. Whether this will cure the curse I cannot say; but if you visit downtown Knoxville you may want to try. It couldn’t hurt.
For more details on the Curse of the White Mule, see Chapter 7 of Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee. Good haunting!