Mention the words, ghost town, and most everyone thinks of the old West. Old mining towns like Rhyolite, NV or Bodie, CA. Deserted buildings in a windswept landscape, left behind after some disaster, or the loss of fortunes. But, in reality, ghost towns exist most everywhere in America.
This past Wednesday my neighbor and I did a little “country cruising”. Our primary destination was the ghost town of Rodney, MS. Located at the end of a twelve mile dirt and gravel road. Once a thriving river town with the busiest port between St. Louis and New Orleans. It missed being the Capitol of Mississippi by three votes. People such as Andrew Jackson, Zachery Taylor,and Jefferson Davis walked its streets. Home to thousands, with some of the wealthiest people in the South, and possibly the Country.
Now, the only things that remain from that time are a couple of church buildings, the old Masonic lodge, and a few other, falling down, buildings.
What happened? Yellow fever, the Civil War, fire, and the most damaging, Nature. Rodney was a booming port city with folks always coming and going. Ripe for an epidemic, or two. After that came the Civil War. Grant landed his troops just a few miles North of town on his way to Vicksburg. The war wrecked the economy, and after the war, there was a fire that destroyed much of the town.
All of that could be overcome, but then Nature stepped in. The Mississippi River began building a large sandbar next to the town. Within two years the river had moved two miles West, abandoning the town, and taking its livelihood. About that same time, the railroad picked a route that didn’t include Rodney.
The old Baptist church.
Ravaged by the flood of 2011.
Old door in an abandoned warehouse.
Upstairs table in the old Masonic Lodge.
Can you see the cannon ball above the window?
The story is that some sailors from a Union gunboat were very bored, and decided to come ashore and attend church services one Sunday. A Confederate cavalry unit got word of it and interrupted church to capture them. The gunboat began shelling the town to cause their release. Cooler heads prevailed to end the hostility before too much damage was done.
The old cemetery has been overtaken by woods and we weren’t able to locate it. Would have really liked to explore it. The area is still home to hunting camps, and a few full time residences. Click the hyperlink for more information on Rodney.
From Rodney, we carried on up the road a piece to the “Ruins of Windsor”. All that remains of what was once a huge pre Civil War mansion. Used by both sides during the Civil War, it survived, but was destroyed in 1890 by an careless smoker.
All photographs and building plans were destroyed in the fire. A sketch was found in a Union soldiers diary sometime in the 1990’s. The sketch is the only real clue as to what the home looked like.
Each column is topped by one of these cast iron capitals.
Click for more on Windsor.
One more stop before heading home. Grant’s troops marched and fought on this road.
They arrived at this home around midnight, as the family was loading wagons to get away from the fighting.
They had waited too long, as the first shots were fired from their front yard as they watched.
Grant’s first battle after crossing the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg, on his way to conquer Vicksburg two months later.
Lots of American history was created in, and around these old Loess bluffs.