(Swamp of Ghosts)(Voodoo Swamp)

St John The Baptist Parish

Status: Natural Wonder, Urban Legend


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By <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="">Melanie Commander Thibodaux</a> - originally posted to Panoramio as <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="">Manchac Bridge</a>, CC BY 3.0Link


This swamp is about a half an hour northwest of New Orleans and contains the longest bridge on the Interstate system at 22.8 miles. It is also one of the longest bridges over water in the world.

It is a rather creepy area – but what swamp isn’t – especially when the fog gathers over the water. Aside from anything paranormal there are two very real dangers here: alligators and logs – both of which will sit just under the surface.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries there were 3 small towns in the swamp: Frenier, Ruddock and Napton. They had no electricity or running water but did have a railroad coming through. They became quite prosperous by farming and logging.

 On September 29, 1915 a massive hurricane came in from the Gulf of Mexico and essentially destroyed all 3 towns. Some people sought the train depot for shelter but it collapsed killing 25 people. In all over 60 people were killed in the towns – 300 in the entire State. The towns never recovered.

The current bridge was built in 1979 and has a perfect safety record. The first bridge, though, was seemingly a magnet for disaster.

At some point in the 1950’s or 60’s a bus went off the bridge due to a missing span and 6 people were killed. In 1974 a barge hit the bridge knocking out spans resulting in the deaths of 3 people. In 1976 the bridge was hit again by a barge and a truck was knocked off the bridge and onto to the barge resulting in 2 injuries. The truck driver and passenger both said they saw a white car pass them and plunge into the water but no sign of the car was ever found.


Paranormal Activity

The swamp has two legends – Julia Brown, a voodoo priestess and that of the Rougaru.

Legend says Julia Brown was a voodoo priestess who cursed the town to die on the same day she did. Julia Brown was a real person known locally as Aunt Julia and she did sit on her front porch singing and playing guitar. Words from one of her songs are “one day I’m going to die and take the whole town with me”.

So far so good right? Except Julia was probably more of a healer as there were no doctors in any of the 3 towns. Voodoo has been demonized by those who don’t understand it and, therefore, fear it. The truth is it is more about helping and healing than about curses.

Much like all Magick.

But what about her song you ask? The song was probably a warning to the townspeople based on some precog skills Julia had. The hurricane did come in on the day of Julia’s funeral and it is said it came out of nowhere. Of course there were no satellites and weather services in 1915 and, therefore, no possible way to see it coming.

People do see the ghost of Julia Brown out in the swamp though; as well as the ghosts of townspeople who perished in the great storm. There are also reports of the ghostly calls for help and screams.

The Rougaru – which is essentially a Cajun werewolf – has been rumored to hunt the swamp since before even Julia’s time. It is occasionally seen by people traveling through the swamp.

The ghosts of the bridge’s many victims are seen either struggling in the water or along the side of the current bridge looking sad and terrified.