Dig Baton Rouge

Legend Has It: Urban legends of the bayou

Rumors, stories, and legends abound throughout south Louisiana’s bayous and countryside. For Halloween, we asked you to contribute your favorite urban legends and spooky tales through social media, and we got the shivers reading and researching them.

Read on… if you dare!

The Frenchtown Road Devil Cult

Miranda Leigh Denicola – “In high school, and now in college, a bunch of us ride down there at night. It’s freaky with or without the stories!! Devil worshippers, KKK, the witch that was hung from the tree near the bridge, turning your car off under the bridge and it not cranking after a few times, the big scary house towards the end in the middle of a field , the hand print smudges found on your car after. It’s all fun!!! Friends rode down there a few weeks ago and a huge clump of mud was thrown at her car with no one around!

About four miles down Frenchtown Road, you’ll find that the houses disappear and the forest begins to crowd the narrow road. Near the end is a railroad overpass, covered in graffiti ranging from names to crudely drawn symbols—including pentagrams.

The legends associated with this spot vary from person to person, depending on age and generation. The stories range from hauntings and witches, to KKK meetings and, most commonly, the occult. Many of the locals familiar with the legend have visited the area, even exploring beyond the railroad overpass into the unknown. Some have come away with nothing but a hike in the woods, while others have sworn they encountered hooded figures and animal sacrifices.

Frenchtown seems to be the most widely known legend of the area. If you’re brave enough, you can check it out yourself. The Recreation and Park Commission for East Baton Rouge Parish has turned the land into a conservation area. According to the BREC website, it is 495 acres of forest with over 3 miles of trails, including access to the Amite River’s beach. So, put on your hiking boots, grab your bug spray (and a machete?) and hit the trails.

The Gonzales Lights

Pat Martin – “In the 50’s somewhere in Gonzales supposedly late at night, on a dark lonely road, a huge round, bright light would drop down out of nowhere and hover in front of a car…circle it and then…poof! It would vanish just like it appeared. I never saw it but I think quite possibly Thunderbird wine may have been involved. Just a guess.”

For more than 60 years, the legend of the ghost lights of Gonzales have piqued the curiosity of daring teenagers and unbelieving adults alike. On Roddy Road, near the intersection of Cante Road, there lurks a mysterious light. Some say it resembles a spotlight, appearing in the sky before charging towards you, only to vanish seconds later. Others have recounted seeing a glowing ball of light that would appear suddenly, hover near your car long enough to freak you out, and disappear just as quickly. No matter the sighting, it always occurs on this same stretch of road.

One story explains that a young girl was buried near the road, her parents lighting a candle each night to keep her company. After they were long gone, the light reappeared to continue the tradition. Another tale says that a man carrying a lantern was decapitated on the road and the light is his ghost still searching for his head.

With no scientific explanation for the light, we may just be curious enough to visit Roddy Road and check it out for ourselves.

Confederate Soldier Ghosts

Lauren Broadhurst – “I heard, years back, people had called the police about a bloody man, in civil war clothing, walking down that street and when the cops got there, no one was around.”

During the Civil War, the Confederate government decided to abandon Baton Rouge. So when the Union soldiers arrived, they took occupancy of the barracks and arsenal with no resistance. After a few months, Confederate forces wanted to regain the city, which resulted in the Battle of Baton Rouge.

It was a terrible, bloody battle which resulted in the destruction of civilian homes, loss of many lives on both sides, and the Union retaining control of the city.

There have been many reports of witnesses seeing bloody soldiers, wearing Confederate uniforms, travelling up and down Highland Road. As with many urban legends, these sightings range from word of mouth stories told and retold, to drivers swearing they’ve seen it themselves. In every case, when they turned around to check or studied their rearview mirror, the soldiers had vanished.

Perhaps these men search endlessly for their way home in the afterlife, or maybe they heard that the bars in Tigerland have killer drink specials. Either way, we hope they find what they’re looking for.

Alice’s Grave

Susie Rice Granier – “An old lady [supposed] to have been in[to] witchcraft. She had a small gate around it and once all the posts fall down she was going to come up from the dead and kill everyone.”

Near Zachary, is a traditional, small cemetery. Its only oddity is that only one grave is above ground. It is the grave of Alice Penny Taylor, a woman who died in 1859, who many locals claim to be a witch. Three different times, the heavy slab covering her grave was moved and her remains were left outside of the grave. Heavy iron bars were eventually added to the grave to “hold her in.” Locals claim you can spot Alice roaming the cemetery at night, calling out to her loved ones. Others claim she searching for a way to escape the cemetery to carry out a vengeful killing spree.

Though the inscription on the marble slab reads simply like the loving words of a mourning husband, the label of witch has been—it seems—permanently attached to her. You can read more about Alice and even see a facial reconstruction of the alleged witch in “The Bone Lady: Life As a Forensic Anthropologist,” by Mary H. Manhein.

Will the heavy iron bars keep Alice in her grave, or will she reemerge once again to haunt daring teenagers who visit her grave in the darkest hours of the night?

The Springfield Grave

Kyle Crane – “The Springfield grave story is that a child was killed by a hit and run driver. At the funeral a mysterious etching of the crime scene in the child’s handwriting appeared on the grave. The police followed the etching and found the killer, who confessed… It’s been well documented that there was nothing supernatural going on, but the story persists.”

This legend states that Michael Brown was a young child tragically killed by a hit and run driver. The day after the headstone was finally placed on his grave, a mysterious child-like drawing appeared etched into the back—a supposed map to his killer. The police used the drawing to find and arrest the killer.

This is another cemetery location that gets way more visitors than it should, and has led to the town passing an ordinance restricting loitering in the cemetery between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. But more than 20 years after her son’s death, Mrs. Wilkinson wanted everyone to know the truth.

According to the Daily Star in Hammond, La., the night before he died, Michael drew a picture of his favorite hobby—a fox hunt—on a paper bag. After he was buried, Wilkinson had the picture engraved on the back of Michael’s tombstone.

“It meant so much to him,” she told the Springfield mayor and local press in 1983. “It comforted me because it was something that he loved.”

Though the family must deal with all the bad of having so many visitors, there is also an upside. His mother mentioned that Michael loved people and would love to know that so many people have visited him.

The Wild Mouse Rollercoaster

Bill Boudreaux – “I went by myself on the Wild Mouse when I was in 6th or 7th grade and almost came out of the car. There was no belt or restraining bar. I held onto some side rails the whole ride so tightly I had muscle spasms when I got off.”

Before Fun Fair Park on the corner of Florida Boulevard and Airline Highway closed permanently, the Wild Mouse ride had been shut down and motionless for years.

The amusement park was filled with rides and games for people of all ages. It hosted birthday parties and even a chimpanzee named Candi. If you were a kid in the late ‘80s, surely you visited the park once or twice. Maybe the Wild Mouse was still in operation. Maybe it already sat in the dark corner of the park being overtaken by weeds and debris. Either way, we bet you heard the stories of death and dismemberment attributed to the rollercoaster.

There were tales of riders being decapitated, a repairman being struck and killed by the coaster cars and many other injuries. None of these stories actually held any merit with the exception of minor injuries to two riders sometime in the late ‘70s. Still, as a child standing before the clanking metal coaster, being double-dared by your friends, you took the chance and climbed on board.

Many of the rides from Fun Fair Park were moved to Highland Road for a new park known as Dixie Landin’. The Wild Mouse was not. We’d like to think it still exists somewhere, scaring the hell out of kids with its stories of blood and gore.

The Haunted Spanish Moon

Reneé Harrington – “The Spanish moon bar is where they put the bodies of 200 or so, flood victims of 1920 . They say you can hear the chains of hoisting them up to the second floor.”

Being alone in a dark, empty bar can already be a bit nerve wracking. Add to that the feeling of being touched or poked, hearing the clink of glasses and billiard balls moving on their own… and you’ve got the makings of a legit haunting.

Many of the stories of strange happenings have been heard (not experienced) by visitors to the bar—mostly from the staff. They will be quick to tell you that the building was once a temporary morgue. During the Great Mississippi Flood in 1927, the area sustained a large number of deaths. The bodies were stored in the building until being sorted out by family and hospitals.

With the rich history of the building and too many unexplained happenings, paranormal experts were drawn to the place. After being allowed inside, they were able to pinpoint specific areas of high spiritual activity and negative energy.

Whether the place is haunted by victims of the 1927 flood or by too many drinks and a wild imagination, it’s worth a visit to see for yourself.

Vampires Living in Monticello

Myranda Clark Mayo – “It’s on Salem Dr. Ha!! The Fire Marshall made them put some windows in.”

In the middle of a quaint suburban neighborhood off of North Sherwood Forest and Greenwell Springs Road, sits a house built with no windows. Rumors circulated the neighborhood, and then the city, that the only explanation had to be that vampires lived there. Occasionally, you would hear a more rational person chime in with the idea that maybe they had a rare sickness that made them allergic to sunlight. Even so, the vampire story stuck around.

The house remained surrounded in mystery and fear. Kids dared each other to ride bikes past it at night. Neighbors walked around the block to avoid it. No one claims to know the family that lives in the home. No one knows how they managed to bypass building codes to construct a home with no windows.

If you try to find the house these days, you’ll be out of luck. At some point, windows were added to the home, making it blend in with their neighbors. If vampires still reside in Monticello, they’ve either purchased black out curtains or have invested in the ultimate sunblock.

Great White Sharks in the Mississippi River

Your cousin swears that he once caught a great white shark while fishing off the banks of the Mississippi River. A coworker says his friend spotted great whites in the Mississippi just north of Exxon while working at the plant. You’re skeptical until photographic evidence is finally introduced, thanks to the power of social media.

The legend of great whites swimming up from the Gulf of Mexico, to as far north as Missouri, has been around since before our grandparents were born. But all it took was one post on the Internet for it go viral. Word spread as the story was shared thousands of times, sending fear and fascination into every resident that lives along the river’s banks.

The legend was even made into a horror film. “Mississippi River Sharks” by the Syfy channel kicked off their “Sharknado Week” just this year. While we’re sure the film was entertaining, the fact-checking website Snopes, discredited the legend long ago. Turns out, any sightings of sharks upriver, would be bull sharks, and they would only venture about 50 miles or so. And the post that went viral? That photo was taken in Costa Rica.

Still, it makes you wonder, what could be lurking and waiting beneath the surface of that fast-moving muddy water?

The Jimi Hendrix Guitar House

Loren Kleinpeter – That was Joe Tex’s house, and the swimming pool was actually shaped like a guitar. Had a wrought iron gate in the shape of a music staff with notes and guitar. No big foot legend—it was actually there—saw it with my own eyes!”

Jimi Hendrix was an American rock legend. Some even call him “the greatest musician of all time.” So it’s no wonder that Baton Rouge residents would want to claim a piece of him.

There are rumors that Hendrix built a home, here in Baton Rouge, on Highland Road. One person calls it the glass mansion, referencing the abundance of windows. Another says that the entire home was shaped like a guitar and filled with extravagant furniture. The common thread in both seems to be that the home was never finished before Hendrix passed away in 1970, therefore never making him a resident of the Red Stick.

The house, that no longer exists, is said to actually have belonged to musician Joe Tex. Tex was a soul man, who had an infamous rivalry with James Brown. His first big hit, “Hold What You’ve Got,” hit the charts in January of 1965.

Baton Rouge has always been home to talented musicians. In this case, whether it’s Jimi or Joe, the city may never know.

LSU’s Supernatural Campus

Steve Flynn – “The 50 yard line club at LSU. Legend has it that when students lived in the stadium they would charge couples to make out on the 50 yard line in Tiger stadium. You got 30 minutes for $20 if I remember correctly. And this was no legend except by the uninitiated. I don’t think a list was ever compiled but I “heard” it was factual.”

With LSU’s current campus being just short of 100 years old, it is bound to hold some of its own legends. From hauntings, to secret clubs, the school is ripe with history and myth.

Whether you ask a current student or an alumn, you’ll find plenty of answers to the question, “Is LSU haunted?” Most commonly, you’ll hear about the creepy tunnels that run under campus and the unexplainable noises in Pleasant Hall. Both are rumored to have been the location of student or faculty death more than once.

If you’re worried about your GPA, you could go in search of the “Ghost Squirrel” in the quad. Rumor is, if you catch a glimpse of this albino squirrel, you’ll ace your next test. Contrarily, avoid the green square of sidewalk outside of the law building, it’ll give you bad luck for an entire semester.

These are just a few of the tales swirling around Louisiana State University. With tens of thousands of students and staff on campus every year, telling and retelling the urban legends of campus, we bet these stories will be around for a long time to come.

Illustrations by Gavin Michelli

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