Ghosts of Mississippi: Exploring the Magnolia State

Text: Marisa McInturff • Photography: Caleb McInturff, Marisa McInturff

Many communities have their share of ghost stories, most of which are fueled by active imaginations and are not for the faint of heart. These stories are best told on a chilly night around a campfire, so bundle up and get cozy. This journey takes us through one of the most haunted areas of the country—rural southern Mississippi, in October no less—in search of the paranormal.

The southernmost point on the Natchez Trace Parkway is Natchez, MS, one of the oldest settlements in the Magnolia State. Natchez is known for its rich Southern history and has one of the nation’s most impressive collections of 19th-century antebellum homes, a testament to its pre–Civil War wealth. Since the summer heat has not yet begun to fade, despite it being fall, Caleb and I get an early start. We’re traveling on Indian FTR 1200 S’s equipped with the touring package featuring windshields and a small amount of luggage. Following backroads southeast out of Natchez, we wind our way through fertile farmland and then turn north toward Port Gibson.

A Ghost Town

Rodney Road is a finely paved stretch that snakes westward from Port Gibson. The curves along this road are unlike most of the highways that run through Mississippi, giving us a perfect place to see how the Indians handle. After several miles, we arrive at the Windsor Ruins. The Windsor Plantation was completed in 1861 and for 30 years was the largest home in Mississippi, sitting on a 2,600-acre cotton plantation. During the Civil War, the first floor served as a makeshift hospital, which saved the lives of many Union and Confederate soldiers. Today, all that stands are 23 of the original 29 columns; a fire in 1890 destroyed most of the home. The site is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is claimed to be haunted by the souls of the soldiers who died there. When we visit, the columns rise toward the sky, seemingly wise and full of untold stories, but we don’t see any ghosts.

We soon find ourselves riding down a road that seems to have disappeared over the years. We put the FTRs into track mode, which turns off the ABS and traction control and unleashes the true flat track racing heritage of these bikes. They respond as if the dirt is where they are meant to be. Before we know it, we are in Rodney, an abandoned town in Jefferson County, about an hour’s ride northeast of Natchez. This area is believed to be one of the early crossing points for the Spanish colonial trade route El Camino Real. Many things contributed to the town of Rodney’s demise, but when the Mississippi River changed course, Rodney’s population dropped to nearly zero. There are only a few structures still standing today, one of which is the Presbyterian church. Located on the bluff behind the church is the town’s cemetery, overgrown and abandoned. It is said that on a dark night you can feel, and sometimes see, spirits of Rodney’s early settlers roaming the graveyard and church grounds. The low clouds sprinkle us with rain as we explore the forgotten town, not a soul in sight. 

(End of preview text.)

For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the January/February 2020 back issue.