Finding Rodney, Mississippi and Its Ghosts

After viewing photos of the remains of Rodney, Mississippi on line , I had to go see for myself. Directions on several blogs made it sound so easy to find and just a couple of hours from Memphis. Of course,my friend and I decided a road trip was in order. After stopping at numerous gas stations, hanging out windows to accost passersby and driving down gravel roads,and a nick in the windshield later, we found it.It is near Alcorn State University.Of course we’re not sure we could ever locate it again. It may be like the town in Finian’s Rainbow that only appears every twenty years.

The town of Rodney formed back in 1814 when Mississippi was a territory. A river town, it just missed becoming the capital of the territory when the mighty Mississippi moved. In the 1850’s it was home to more than 1,000 residents, the chief port of two steamboats,several newspapers, two banks , and an opera house. By 1860, Rodney was home for 4,000 residents.Then the river changed course.It went from 300 yards away to three miles.I had no idea a river could just up and change position in a short time.

The sun was blazing and the streets deserted when we arrived. Collapsed buildings and those in slightly better shape lined the street. Our first stop , the brick Presbyterian church which dates to the early 1830’s, looked almost untouched. The cannonball imbedded in the facade above a window gave evidence of its age , but its stories were in the cemetery that lay at the top of the hill behind it. Damaged by time and vandals, the old metal fencing looked like rusted lace. The stones of prominent families sagged along with those whose names have faded.

Back down on the main street , the remains of the opera house and perhaps a town hall are mounds of debris. There is a general store , Alston Grocery, another building on the opposite corner which might have been a stable, and another church.There is a clapboard Baptist church.

As we wandered and shooting photos,  we met a man who used to come to Rodney with his dad back in the forties. He tried to remember and explain what it had been like at that time. Further on, there was a couple who had family members buried at the cemetery.Families from surrounding areas had buried their loved ones in Rodney because it was higher ground, literally. It seemed to be a day for reminiscences so we listened and felt more connected .

The photos presented are infrared with an intentional blur. . They seem to fit the mood of the day ,  a dreamy  otherworld feeling.You could almost hear the footsteps, carriage wheels , and voices as a thriving community busied itself in daily life.

There are a few residents and hunting camps nearby, so ghost town isn’t fitting in terms of population yet it perfectly captures the mood.

About unsouthernbelle

I am a native New Yorker , transplanted to Memphis, who is a photographer, teacher, and wanderer. I am inspired by the beauty and stories that resonate from abandoned places and found objects. View all posts by unsouthernbelle

15 responses to “Finding Rodney, Mississippi and Its Ghosts

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