A Very Scary Road Trip
I’ve said this before but I don’t do traditional scary things like haunted houses or horror movies. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve watched a scary movie since college which makes it all the odder that I love scary historical locations and stories. I have no issues with these spooky situations because I know nothing is really going to jump out at me and I LOVE the history that goes along with these tragic tales. Luckily, my squad is equally inclined to historic horror so, in honor of the fabulous Rachel’s birthday, we decided to take a little tramp through our neck of the woods in search of spooky history.
Now, in the south you don’t have to look far to find legends of mythical proportions. Our culture is one made up of storytellers and these glistening threads are found woven throughout our history in every nook and cranny. With so many options in easy road trip range, we decided on several destinations along the Mighty Mississippi because of the war torn past, beautiful architecture and many, many specters.
Believe it or not, this is a Baptist church!
Our first stop took us to the town of Rodney, MS which is essentially a ghost town who has fallen victim to being too close to the river and flooding. I love abandoned locations because they become time capsules of people and things that no longer exist. Also, I’ve always found something fascinating about the dilapidated beauty that accompanies these monuments. Be forewarned, if you attempt a trek to Rodney, you need to do so in an SUV and your need a general idea of where you’re headed. This is quite literally the backwoods and there were definitely moments that had a “beginning of a horror film… if I was watching me on the screen right now I would be screaming about my idiocy” type of feel. You basically don’t have service but there are several old churches and some other buildings you can visit. We even climbed, quite carefully, up in the Baptist Church balcony to ring the bell which was really cool but also freaky.
Our second, stop brought us to Port Gibson and the Windsor Ruins which have been on my bucket list for ages. (Once again, abandoned beauty draws me in.) The house saw a good bit of history in its short 29 year life but was lost to a fire in 1890. While it is part of the Mississippi Department of History and Archives, it has been pilfered a bit. Some of the columns are missing, as well as, the stairways, though one has been preserved on the campus of Alcorn State University. If you go, please know that there is a fence around the ruins because they are unstable and in the midst of being preserved, though there is a large opening you can climb through with a bit of coaxing from your more adventurous friends.
Finally, we arrived in Vicksburg, “The Key to the South”. I’ve been to Vicksburg many times for the Miss Mississippi Pageant and of course, the obligatory school field trip so I’ve always been intrigued by the haunted side of Vicksburg but this was the first time I’ve ever gone out searching for these stories of misfortune. Vicksburg is cemented in history for the battle that occurred there during the Civil War and many of its monuments and stories are reflective of this time. Side note: If you’ve never taken advantage of visiting the Vicksburg National Cemetery and Military Park you really should. Not only can you access the stories of the city but you can literally walk about in the history of the Siege of Vicksburg. You can visit the USS Cairo, see demonstrations and more. To me, crawling through a tunnel that troops used, is about as close to time travel as I can imagine. I get true joy from seeing and experiencing things I’ve read about in textbooks. It’s also super cheap for an easy day trip pass.
While, I would have loved to re-experience the Military Park and Cemetery on this trip, Covid-19 made that difficult but keeping with our spooky theme, we decided to do “Haunted Vicksburg” which is one of those things you see advertised all over but never actually attend…until now. I can highly recommend this tour even if you are a skeptic. The tour guide is a fabulous storyteller and really knows his history. The walk goes to some of the most iconic landmarks of Vicksburg including the Old Courthouse, The Duff Green Mansion and Anchuca. There are plenty of photo opportunities and you might even meet a ghost if you’re lucky.
The most ghostly encounter I had was this light in my poorly taken picture.
In the end, this trip was definitely worth the drive and all the more fun for the crew I had with me! I’m so thankful to have a group of friends that can find the adventure in the small bits of life and who don’t look at me like I’m too crazy when I want to stop by the local graveyard!