Old Man River:  History Along the MississippiApril 19-November 2, 2003

Legends and Spirits

Mississippi Hauntings and Spirited Celebrations!

Bald eagle and alligator crossing sign
The Upper vs. The Lower Mississippi
Mississippi Hauntings exhibit section
Mississippi Hauntings exhibit section

The Most Haunted Small Town in America

Across the Mississippi and upriver from St. Louis is Alton, Illinois - a small and pleasant village, but one that has held onto elements of a tragic past. During the Civil War, a stone prison was filled with over 11,000 Confederate prisoners who suffered harsh accommodations and inadequate sanitation. Vulnerable to pneumonia, dysentery, and smallpox, nearly 1,600 Confederates died there.

The prison was torn down after the war in 1865, however, the stones from its walls were used for structures throughout the Alton area. Hauntings, unexplained orbs of light, and strange happenings occur throughout the town.

Phantoms Along the River

Spirits haunt many plantations along The Great River Road that winds its way north from New Orleans. At The Myrtles plantation, for instance, ten restless spirits roam the grounds. The most identifiable ghost is said to be a sorrowful slave woman named Chloe who mistakenly poisoned the children in her charge.

Ectoplasm - foggy wisps of energy released by ghostly presence - has been captured on photographs where no fog had appeared to the naked eye. Video cameras have filmed darting glimpses of eerie light plus phantom shapes that appear and disappear. Unnatural cries, whispers, and sobs have been heard, along with the creak of empty chairs rocking on "their own" power.

The Most Haunted City in America

Exotic among U.S. cities, the French Quarter of New Orleans retained its French and Spanish origins even as the port was being swamped with immigrants from Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. Behind plastered archways, wrought iron balconies, and shuttered floor-to-ceiling windows, the Quarter holds generations of secrets close to its heart.

Arising here are some of the most frightening narratives ever told. Glowing spheres of light, cold chills, odors with no discernable origin, and phantom footsteps join forces with flickering apparitions. Reports of ghostly happenings recur at many sites where the police had investigated murder, massacre, torture, and actual vampire activity!

Mardi Gras!

Every January through early March, New Orleans pops with the exuberance of Mardi Gras (French name meaning "Fat Tuesday"). Grand balls and parades are infused with outlandish costumes and outrageous behavior!

Based on ancient feasts enjoyed by Romans before the Catholic season of Lent, the French in America threw private masked balls that eventually spread to carnivals in the streets. Mardi Gras reigns until the parties reach their high point on Fat Tuesday, followed by the quiet of Ash Wednesday … the fat (or the flesh, so to speak) was in the fire and only the ashes remain.

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Did you know … ?
In 1872, Mardi Gras officials honored the visiting Grand Duke of Russia by adopting his Romanoff family crest colors of purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power).

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This section "Legends and Spirits" has the following related pages:
Mississippi Hauntings and Spirited Celebrations!

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2 men in a canoe
Early Exploration and Development
River Days
view of Bellview, Iowa
Riverfront Property
Civil War enenactors
Man vs. Man

Bald eagle and conservation officer
Man vs. Nature
jazz musician
The Arts Along the River
You are here!New Orleans graveyard
Legends and Spirits
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