It isn’t just history that draws tourists to the southern state of Mississippi. Besides Civil War relics, monuments, battlefields and museums, there’s the spectacular, 26-mile-long Mississippi Gulf Coast, golfing, gaming, Blues music and so much more to experience in the Magnolia State.
Hidden among all these top-tier tourism points of interest, there are some offbeat sights too, that take you off the beaten path on interesting weekend driving excursions — if you know where to go. Here are 5 of our favorite pit stops throughout the state of Mississippi that has left us scratching our heads in surprise – and feeling a little creeped out too!
# 1: Grave Of The Lady In Red
• In 1969, an astonishing discovery was made by a backhoe on the Egypt Plantation near the small town of Cruger. Three feet underground, his equipment hit on a glass-faced coffin with the perfectly-preserved body of a young woman inside. She had long auburn hair and was dressed in a red velvet gown with a lace collar. In keeping with a common burial practice from the pre-Civil War days, alcohol had been poured inside the glass-and-cast iron coffin to keep the corpse in pristine condition. In spite of every effort made to identify her, researchers came up with nothing. Finally, her coffin was moved to the Old Fellows Cemetery in Lexington, where the tombstone describes her simply as the Lady In Red. The dates inscribed on it reads: 1935-1969. The latter being the year her body was discovered accidentally.
# 2: Witch’s Grave
Yazoo City, MS
• At the Glenwood Cemetery in Yazoo City, you will notice a grave that is conspicuously encircled by a thick chain link. This is the site where the Witch of Yazoo City was buried, and from where she supposedly wreaked havoc with her ghostly acts of destruction for many years to come. At the time of her death, when she was sinking into quicksand after being chased by the town sheriff, she cursed the township saying it will burn to the ground in 20 years. Nobody paid much heed to the words of the old crone of course, but 20 years later, the town did go up in flames. Over 300 houses were destroyed, and frightened residents went to visit the Witch’s Grave to beg for mercy. When they got there, they found that the chain link around her grave was broken. Paranormal activities have constantly been reported from that site since then. Even the new gravestone installed on her grave to appease her, has fallen and broken in half.
# 3: Red Water Artesian Well
• Until the late 1800s, the town of Shubuta in Clarke County was known as the biggest settlement between Mobile and Meridian. There used to be as many as 50 artesian wells here that ensured healthy water supply for both residents and visitors in the busy trading town. Today, the Red Water Artesian Well draws a fair number of passing tourists who have heard about the “bloody water” that comes out of it. The reddish, tea-colored water, rich in sodium bicarbonate, is potable, but the local Indians who had settled in Shubuta called it poison and refused to drink it. Some crafty entrepreneurs sold the water in whisky bottles to unsuspecting visitors, declaring it was medicinal. Remember to bring an empty bottle with you when you visit the well, so you can take a sample of its red water as a memento from the trip.
# 4: Witch Dance
Natchez Trace Parkway, Houston, MS
• If you’re driving south of Tupelo, you’ll notice a sign on the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway that reads “Witch Dance”. The signage points to a site (milepost 233.2) where legend has it that witches would gather to dance and perform ceremonial spells that did nobody any good. The grass under their feet scorched and no new grass grew on those patches again. Local Indians, travelers and traders all knew not to trespass on this evil site, but a local criminal called Big Harpe ignored all warnings and went there. His head was later found nailed to a tree. Today, the accursed bald spots on the ground can still be seen, and locals swear that they hear the cackling laughter of witches coming from the bushes and trees in the dead of full moon nights…
# 5: King’s Tavern
• Located on the corner of Jefferson and North Rankin, King’s Tavern is the oldest standing building in Natchez. People go there to eat pot pies topped with biscuit crust and wood-fired flat breads, washed down with the tavern’s selection of handcrafted cocktails, but the site is famously haunted by the spirit of a Madeline, who was known to be Richard King’s mistress. Apparently, when the jealous wife found out about the affair, she had Madeline killed and bricked into the fireplace in the main dining room. Years later, some time in the 1930s, three mummified bodies were discovered inside the 18th Century structure – two male and one female. The female mummy is assumed to be the star-crossed Madeline.