Monday, November 29, 2010

The Ghosts of the Mississippi

Listen to the story here

There has always been something restless about life along the Mississippi River.  The towns which cling to its banks have seen thousands of souls come and go over the years and have been witness to countless triumphs and tragedies, virtues and sins, fortunes made and squandered, dreams realized and dashed, lives well-lived and lost.  These powerful human imprints are inedible, and even in death, this restlessness remains.

As paranormal investigators will attest, certain physical features are conductive to unexplained phenomenon: moving water and limestone among them.  Little wonder that for generations, Native Americans and Europeans along the Mississippi have told eerie tales of restive spirits and specters wandering the bluffs and shoals along the dark river that moves like an uncoiling rope. 

 So too are ghost stories common where the living are confronted with stagnation, neglect, and decay.  Many communities whose deep roots cling desperately to the Mississippi mud enjoyed their golden years decades ago.  As the age of the steamboats passed and their economic benefits diminished, commerce and population left these depressed river towns, often replacing progress with failure and optimism with despair.  Likewise, as railroads began to eclipse the river as the dominant mode of transportation by the turn of the twentieth century, those communities that secured a rail connection thrived while those that didn’t simply withered in isolation on the vine.

In time their engaging people were silenced
beautiful Victorian homes left derelict
vibrant movie theaters gone silent
& productive rail yards – forgotten

BUT it is precisely in forsaken places where you find the frightening stories of unsettled spirits refusing to go quietly….

During the next hour we’ll explore the unexplained happenings, haunting, and ghostly encounters which help make up the rich heritage of life on the river.

In New Madrid, the ghost of Miss Josephine still admires and flirts with the young gentlemen who visit her old home while spirits at the Dixie Theater have remained well beyond the final curtain.

In the Cairo fire department, ghost-like shadows and the thundering of railroading sledgehammers have convinced firefighters that they do not sleep alone, and that someone – or something – labors amongst them every night.

And Cape Girardeau paranormal investigators provide a glimpse into their supernatural research.

So join me, Joel Rhodes, and Jacob McCleland, as we search for the “Ghosts of the Mississippi” on KRCU.

Mezzanine Man

Listen to the story here.

Last year, when we were brainstorming ideas about ghost stories in Cape Girardeau, we kept talking about how great it would be to see if there are any hauntings in Cairo, Illinois. With Cairo’s tragic history and crumbling urban environment, the town seems like a natural for a good ghost story.

The Executioners May Have Been Drinking

Listen to the story here.

New Madrid, Missouri is the kind of small town where secrets are swept underneath the carpet. It’s a small old town in the Bootheel, home to a little over 3,000 people. It’s well known for the seismic zone that bears its name, and many of the community’s older buildings have been moved by force as a result of a Mississippi River that outgrows its banks. And as Jacob McCleland learned, New Madrid has seen its share of both good times and sorrow.

The Ghostbusters Quotes Fly Fast and Furious

Paranormal investigation is growing in popularity, thanks in large part to TV shows like Paranormal State and Ghost Hunters. Local groups of investigators have been springing up across the country. Here in Cape Girardeau, we even have our own ghost investigator who blogs about her experiences, Katherine Webster. Katherine joined us in the studio; listen to the complete interview here.