The Sugar Flats Road Monster Head of Chattanooga Ghost Tours
I sometimes have to remind myself that I write not for a regional audience, or even a national one, but for an international one. With such being the case, not everyone who reads this will automatically be familiar with the tourism hotspot of the Southeast that is Chattanooga, Tennessee. A beautiful destination with tons of stuff to do, let me encourage you, if you are ever in the area, or even if you’re not, but you want to soak up some majestic scenery, lush history, and amazing cuisine, to give Chattanooga a try. The home to Lookout Mountain, Rock City (From which you can see seven states!), the underground waterfall Ruby Falls, and much more, Chattanooga is one of those places you just have to see before you die. And if you’re lucky enough to live within commuting distance, as I am, you can see it regularly.
When I travel anywhere, for business, pleasure, or family obligation, whether to a big tourism hotspot or some middle-of-nowhere flyspeck on the map, I always seek out the oddball, the strange, and the curious. I’m that guy who’d drive a hundred miles out of the way to see the world’s largest ball of twine. Fortunately I didn’t have to go out of my way at all to see the holographic head of the Sugar Flats Road Monster, or hear the story surrounding it. Both were located right inside the shop headquarters of CHATTANOOGA GHOST TOURS. During a recent trip I had the chance to meet and chat with proprietor Amy Petulla (who is also a successful author of regional ghost and True Crime stories–a lady after my own heart) about the head.
Here’s the story: In 1989–or two years earlier, in 1987; details vary–a trysting couple off on a romantic but adulterous interlude in the country ran over SOMEthing with their truck. The “something” was an albino Bigfoot creature, which unfortunately expired of its injuries. The creature’s mate, which was with it, ran off, and the ramblin’ Romeo, after taking his paramour home before he and she got busted (it is uncertain which one of the pair was cheating on a spouse, or if both of them were), drove back out to the site of the accident, cut off the Monster’s head, buried its body, and then took the head to a taxidermist. For years the head was displayed in an antiques store in Lebanon, Tennessee, before the store closed and the head was leased by Ms. Petulla for display in her storefront to help bolster business. (She could have purchased the head for a measly 20 grand, but she declined.) She said that ultimately the curiosity inspired by the head didn’t translate into business dollars and the head went back to its owner. It is currently in parts unknown, but Ms. Petulla told me that the owner told her that it would soon be on display again at a nearby state park. (Rest assured, readers, I will be keeping my eyes and ears open, and if the head does surface, I’ll be hitting the road to see it in person.)
Supposedly the creature was struck and killed on a rural stretch called Sugar Flats Road, although Ms. Petulla told me the owner had confided in her that the accident had actually occurred elsewhere in Wilson County, TN, but, because the owner had a business on Sugar Flats Road, he opted for that name. This kind of vagueness is typical of this case, as it always is of ALL such cases. Names, dates, verifiable facts: all are missing. The only concrete piece of evidence is the head itself–which has gone on walkabout.
Ms. Petulla had the head in her possession for several months. I asked her if she had experienced anything of a paranormal nature during the time the head was in her keeping. She did not, but did tell me the story of a cursed skull she’d owned for a while. (I’ll be writing more about this skull in a separate article this week.) I asked her if she thought that the Monster’s head was real. She said that, if it were a fake, it was a GOOD fake, the work of a talented flimflam artist. The creature has rotten teeth, an overbite, and Ms. Petulla told me that when a man who claimed to have encountered a Bigfoot in person came into her store and saw the head, he proclaimed that it looked just like what he had seen. COULD it be for real?
I would have to say the head is almost assuredly a gaffe. For me, a journeyman with the soul of a Carnie, this fact, if it is a fact, would scarce make the head less fascinating to me. I LOVE me a good gaffe. Granted I can only go by the photographs of the head, but the hairline appears far too uniform, too “perfect.” That, and the lack of details in the story, suggests the thing is the creation of a taxidermist, perhaps created to generate foot traffic for the owner’s business. If so, I’d like to give the guy a high-five for his ingenuity and his appreciation for the ballyhoo.
Take a look at the head for yourself, alongside the holographic depiction of it that can be seen today in the headquarters of Chattanooga Ghost Tours. What do you think? Could it be for real? Ms. Petulla told me that hair samples HAD been taken from the head for testing. Is it covered with rabbit fur, or might that actually be fuzzy white Bigfoot hair?
And please do take Ms. Petulla’s ghost walk tour if you’re in Chattanooga. She’s super knowledgeable and super nice, and will show you the holographic Monster’s head if you ask her.
(I also had the chance to meet and chat with the proprietors of QUEST2ESCAPE Escape Rooms Experience, as said business shares space with CHATTANOOGA GHOST TOURS. They offer an escape room, based on Chattanooga’s railway history and the World War Two sabotage of a military train, that sounded like so much fun. Alas I was on a schedule and had to vamoose. I’ll check it out next time I’m in town, though, and I recommend you all do the same.)
The Sugar Flats Road Monster Head was also used in a case of Bigfoot fakery, Ms. Petulla told me, when a photograph of it was appropriated by a renowned Bigfoot scholar and passed off as his own. But that is a story for another time.