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Haunted Cities of the Dead - New Orleans

St. Louis Cemetery #1

Established by Spanish royal decree on August 14, 1789, St. Louis Cemetery #1 is not only the oldest cemetery that can be visited in New Orleans, it is also said to be the most haunted.

By the late 18th century, the city's older cemetery -- St. Peter Cemetery (no longer in existence) had begun to fill up, and the town development had reached the site’s boundaries. Recognizing the need for the new burial place, city administrators made plans for a new burial site which was far away from the center of population, due to fears that contagion and disease would spread. A below sea level swampy site on St. Louis Street was selected because high ground sites were much to expensive.

Upon initial development, the cemetery was divided into sections for Catholics, non-Catholics, and slaves. Initial burials appear to have taken place in a haphazard manner, leading to the current maze of tombs and aisles. Though the cemetery spans just one square block, it is the resting place of thousands. Currently, it holds over 700 tombs, the remains of over 100,000 people, and is still the site of several burials each year. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Because New Orleans has issues with high ground water nearly all the graves are in above-ground vaults. Following the Spanish custom of using vaults, they range from simple to very grand. Walls in the cemetery are made of economical vaults stacked on top of one another, while other ornate crypts built by wealthier families look much like tiny houses, complete with iron fences.

Nicknamed "the Cities of the Dead" by the famed author, Mark Twain, its age is prominently displayed in chipped and crumbling tombs, broken shells and cobblestones that form the pathways, and vandalism. However, its age and deterioration take nothing away from its haunting beauty.

Due to the rise in vandalism, the cemetery was closed to the public in March, 2015. However, visitors may still enter the burial grounds with authorized tour guides and companies.

Considered one of the most haunted cemeteries in all of the United States, reports of paranormal activity have been occurring for more than 200 years.

Marie Laveau

One of the most famous ghosts of the Cities of the Dead is that of Marie Laveau, better known as The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. Born as a free Creole woman of color on September 10, 1881, she was the illegitimate daughter of a free man of color and a Creole mother. Historians believe that Marie’s mother and grandmother were also voodoo practitioners. As an adult she practiced fortune telling, the occult, Voodoo, Voudoun, and worked with herbal remedies, while incorporating her Catholic religion, African religion and culture. Word of her successes soon spread throughout the area and before long she was renowned in New Orleans as the Voodoo Queen. She lived until the age of 86 when she died on June 15, 1881. Interestingly, there were a number of people who claimed to have seen her in the days after she died.

More than 130 years later, people are still saying that they have seen her. Her misty ghost has been seen walking along the pathways of the cemetery wearing her trademark red and white turban and brilliantly colored clothes. Many report that she simply vanishes if they try to follow her. Some say that she mumbles an original New Orleans Santeria Voodoo curse as she walks along. At times the curse is so loud that people have heard it outside the burial ground. Others have reported seeing her ghost emerging from inside her tomb. On many occasions she appears to be in a foul mood as she storms along the pathways.
She has also been spotted in a number of other locations throughout the French Quarter, most often walking down the street she once lived on. For some non-believers who scoff at her, or her beliefs or religion, they have reported being scratched, pinched or shoved down to the ground.

Other reports include feelings of being touched, becoming unexplainably ill, and hearing voices emanating from inside the her tomb.

Laveau's tomb itself is a popular tourist attraction with many a visitor leaving offerings, candles, flowers, Voodoo dolls, and beads in the hopes that Laveau will bestow her blessings upon them.

Even more bizarre, rumors abound that say her soul appears in various places as a large shiny black Voodoo cat, with fire red eyes. Recommendation to visitors who may see this cat are to cross themselves three times and back away, rather than turning on the cat, for fear of being cursed.

Another tale says that the Voodoo Queens "familiar", a large snake that she called Zombi, was placed in her coffin when she died and is entombed with her. Today, it is said that the snake guards her tomb and has been seen slithering around the crypt or basking in the sun atop of it.

One more strange story repeated is that ghostly nude Voodoo practitioners have been spied dancing in a ritual over which Marie Laveau, dressed all in white, presides.

Henry Vignes

Another spirit that is said to haunt the old cemetery is that of a man named Henry Vignes. A sailor during the 19th century, Vignes was a nomad of the sea, but when he was in New Orleans he called a certain boarding house home. Evidently, his roots were in New Orleans because there was a family tomb in the St. Louis cemetery. Before heading out on his last voyage, he was worried about his important papers and asked the owner of the boarding house if she would keep them in a safe place while he was away. She agreed to look after the documents which included the papers for his family's tomb. But, Henry had placed his trust in the wrong person. Upon his return, he discovered that she had sold his tomb. Before he could seek justice, he grew ill and soon died. Penniless, he was buried in an unmarked grave in the pauper's section of St. Louis Cemetery #1.

More than a century later, he is said to still be looking for his family tomb. He is often seen walking in the burial ground, described as being tall, with blue eyes, wearing a white shirt. Though he appears looking disheveled and lost, he is also said to be in full, solid form, and very much alive. Reports tell that he asks visitors if they know the location of the Vignes tomb. Sometimes this spirit will tap the living on the shoulder, and ask, "Do you know anything about this Tomb here?" Another story says that he sometimes even shows up at funerals asking mourners if there is any room in the tomb for him. But his most often heard statement is "I need to rest!" His image is said to have been caught on camera and his voice on EVP.


Another lost ghost is that of a man named Alphonse. Like Henry, he also appears lost. He has been known to approach visitors in a friendly way and asks them to help him find his way home. He has also been seen a number of times gathering the flowers off of other graves and placing them on his own tomb. It is though that he may have been murdered or betrayed by someone of the Pinead family, for he warns visitors to stay away from that tomb. Though he is often known to smile, the restless and lost soul often begins to cry just before he disappears.

More Spirits

These are not the only ghosts to haunt the cemetery -- there are said to be hundreds. Reports tell of phantom figures including soldiers in uniform, yellow fever victims, and others who appear both night and day. Interestingly, the burial ground is also home to a number of unearthly dogs and cats which are said to have once belonged to a former caretaker. They are often said to lurk near the St. Louis No. 2 cemetery as that was where their owner was buried.

One question often asked of visitors is the reason for the fine china dishware and ornate silverware found throughout the graveyard. This is part of the ancient Wiccan practice called the" Dumb Supper". In this old ritual a mock table setting is placed for the departed as well as a visitor who has questions for their lost one. These settings may also include real food, wine glasses, bottles of wine or liquor and more.

Haunted Hiking Trails Across America

Hikers in America are facing a strange and mysterious phenomenon. They are disappearing without a trace, which leaves science speechless. The feeling that we are being watched in the woods may be very far from irrational after all. The fear that there is no one to see you when you are snatched by an evil unknown is indeed a fear that should be acted upon as we shall see investigating the incomprehensible disappearances of hikers across America.

Niles Canyon national park, Fremont, has unfortunately had many hikers disappear in its vastly uninhabited spaces. Coincidentally there is reportedly a ghost who roams the park in a white prom dress. This girl is believed to have died in a car crash along Highway 84 on the way to her prom many years ago on February the 26th. She hitchhikes rides from passer-by’s, asking them to take her to an address across the bridge, only to disappear once the driver reaches the bridge. Daring hikers travel the pitch black highway in the hopes of seeing the Prom Dress Hitchhiker. A nursing student, Michelle Le, recently went missing in the park despite 450 volunteers canvassing the park to look for her.

Bluff Mountain, Virginia, is tragically inhabited by the ghost of a 4-year-old boy. In the winter of 1891, he followed his older brothers into the dark woods by his small school. When he tried returning back he lost his direction and his body was not found until following April by some hunters. Hikers using the sheltering nearby have many times reported hearing a little boy who then suddenly disappears.

As with many paranormal activities, this next one involves a Native American burial ground found in Robinson Woods near Chicago. Chee- Chee- Pin- Quay (otherwise known as Alexander Robinson), chief of the Potawatomi, Ottawa and Chippewa tribes in the early 19th century was buried here. And in 1955, two teenagers were murdered close to where he was buried. This has been accompanied by many reports of mysterious lights and sounds. Spooky.

Unfortunately, there have been many people who have disappeared in America’s national parks and wilderness under mysterious circumstances. Many theories have emerged, from UFOs, cults and serial killers. Many of these cases appear to overflow from an overactive imagination, yet there is a very real threat that something sinister can happen to hikers traveling on their own or small groups, isolated from the rest of society.

Canyon de Chelly - ARIZONA

For nearly 5,000 years, people have used the towering sandstone walls of Canyon de Chelly as a place for campsites, shelters, and permanent homes. Managed through a partnership between the National Park Service and the Navajo Nation and located on Navaho Trust Land, Canyon de Chelly (pronounced d’SHAY) National Monument represents one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes of North America. The National Monument preserves the remains and cultural resources of variousAmerican Indian groups that have lived within the canyon’s walls throughout history. The sites, cliff dwellings, and images on cliff walls, as well as the living community of Navajo people within Canyon de Chelly today, contribute to our understanding of American Indian cultural heritage in the United States.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument preserves the distinct architecture, artifacts, and rock imagery of the Archaic people (2500-200 B.C.), the Basketmakers (200 B.C.-A.D. 750), the Pueblo (750-1300), the Hopi (1300-1600s), and the Navajo (1700-present). Archeological evidence suggests that people have lived in Canyon de Chelly for nearly 5,000 years. The original inhabitants were the Archaic people, who lived in seasonal campsites, conducted hunting and gathering expeditions, and did not build permanent homes. Their stories are understood through the remains of their campsites and the images they etched and painted on the canyon walls. By about 200 B.C., a fundamental shift occurred in the way people lived within the canyon. The Basketmakers started to sustain their community through farming, instead of by hunting and gathering. As their agricultural skills improved, their lives became more sedentary and they built communities of dispersed households with large granaries and rudimentary public structures.

As time passed, the Basketmakers’ style of home gradually changed. From about 750 to 1300, they abandoned their pithouses in dispersed hamlets and built connected rectangular stone houses above ground. From these connected dwellings, the inhabitants eventually formed multi-storied villages that contained small household compounds and kivas with decorated walls. The people of this time are called the Puebloans; a pueblo is the Spanish word for village, and refers to the compact village life of these people. TheseAncient Puebloan people are the predecessors of today’s Pueblo and Hopi Indians, and they are often referred to as Anasazi, a Navajo word meaning “ancient ones.”

Canyon de Chelly National Monument contains the remains of these ancientPuebloan villages. Built into a sheer 500 foot sandstone cliff, the White House was constructed and occupied between 1060 A.D. and 1275 A.D. The White House takes its name from the white plaster used to coat the long back wall in the upper dwelling. Visitors can view the White House Ruins either from the “White House Overlook” on the South Rim Drive, or by taking a 2.5 mile round-trip trail to the ruins (this is the only trail by which visitors may enter the canyon without a permit or an authorized Navajo guide). The largest ancient Puebloan village preserved in Canyon de Chelly is Mummy Cave. Situated 300 feet above the canyon floor, this village has close to 70 rooms. The east and west alcoves contain living and ceremonial rooms, and the walls are decorated with white and pale green plaster. Mummy Cave was occupied until about 1300. Visitors can view the ruins from the “Mummy Cave Overlook” on the North Rim Drive of the park.

By 1300, the Puebloan life in Canyon de Chelly abruptly ended. A prolonged drought in the 1200s that dried out what is now the Four Corners region of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; disease; conflict; and the allure of new religious ideas to the south prompted the Puebloan people to disperse. They left the canyon in search of a constant water supply and eventually established villages along the Little Colorado River and at the southern tip of Black Mesa. The people of these villages, known as the Hopi, continued to occupy the canyon sporadically. The Hopi used the canyon for seasonal farming, ritual pilgrimages, and occasional lengthy stays. The Hopi’s pattern of life continued from 1300 until the late 1600s or the early 1700s when they encountered the Navajo in Canyon de Chelly.

Around 1700, adversaries pushed the Navajo people south and west into the Canyon de Chelly region. They brought with them domesticated animals acquired from the Spanish and a culture modified by years of migration and adaptation. By the late 1700s, lengthy warfare erupted between the Navajo, other American Indians, and the Spanish colonists of the Rio Grande Valley. Canyon de Chelly National Monument preserves and interprets the site of a battle that occurred during this time. On a winter day in 1805, a Spanish military expedition, which Lieutenant Antonio Narbona led, fought an all-day battle with a group of Navajo people fortified in a rock shelter in Canyon del Muerto (another canyon located within the Canyon de Chelly National Monument). By the end of the day, Narbona reported that 115 Navajo were killed. The rock shelter where this occurred is called Massacre Cave. Visitors may view Massacre Cave at the “Massacre Cave Overlook” on the North Rim Drive of the park.

By 1846, the Spanish and subsequent Mexican control of what is now Arizona and New Mexico came to an end with a short military campaign that concluded with the United States claiming the territory. By 1863, the United States military was conducting a brutal campaign against the Navajo. Under the orders of the territorial commander, Colonel Kit Carson led a campaign against the Navajo which ultimately resulted in the removal of 8,000 Navajo to new lands in eastern New Mexico. The Navajo people were forced to walk the 300 miles from Canyon de Chelly to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. They called this The Long Walk. Many died along the Long Walk, and the conditions at the fort were not much better. After four years, this first reservation experiment failed, and the Navajo were permitted to return to their land. Today, Canyon de Chelly sustains a living community of Navajo people, and a visit to the park provides great insight into the present-day life of the Navajo community.

Visitors to Canyon de Chelly National Monument can observe 1,000 foot sheer sandstone walls and well-preserved Anasazi ruins, and simultaneously gain an understanding of the diverse cultural heritage of American Indians in the United States.

Canyon de Chelly is located near Chinle, AZ. The visitor center is three miles from Route 191 in Chinle, AZ. The visitor center is open daily.

Boggsville, Colorado - On the Santa Fe Trail

Representing the First Non-Military settlement in Southeastern Colorado, Boggsville was established on the Banks of the Purgatoire River, near its confluence with theArkansas River, in 1866. When New Mexico Territory was added to the United States, the lands south of the Arkansas River were opened to homesteaders and the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail in Colorado shifted from trading to ranching and agriculture.

For years Bent's Old Fort had been the center of trade for this large area. However, by the time the Mexican-American War began in 1846 the U.S. Army decided to use the post as a staging base for the conquest of New Mexico. That summer General Stephen W. Kearny and his Army of the West, consisting of about 1,650 dragoons and Missouri Volunteers from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, followed by some 300 to 400 wagons of Santa Fe traders, rested at the fort before proceeding to occupy New Mexico. After the war the Government failed to adequately compensate the Bents for their use of the fort and business began to decline due to unrest among the southern Indian tribes and raids against the wagon trains. In 1849, William Bent offered to sell the fort to the U.S. Army in 1849, but they declined. Disillusioned, he set fire to the fort and moved 38 miles down the Arkansas River, where he founded Bent's New Fort in an ill-fated attempt to restore his trading business. In 1859 William Bent leased his new fort to the Army.

Not only did the final closing of Bents Fort create a loss for travelers along the Santa Fe Trail, it also created a loss of jobs for a number of men, one whom was a man named Thomas Boggs. Thomas had worked for the Bents since about 1843 raising and maintaining livestock between Taos, New Mexico and the mouth of the Purgatoire River. Boggs married Ramalda Luna, the stepdaughter of Charles Bent, in Taos in 1846. She was also related by marriage to the Kit Carson and was an heir to Cornelio Vigil, who along with Ceran St. Vrain, owned a 2,040 acre land grant. After having spent time in California in the 1850's, he returned to the area and worked for Lucian Maxwell and Kit Carson up to about 1862. Moving to Rayado, New Mexico, he ran cattle to the lush bottomlands on the mouth of the Purgatoire River near present-day Las Animas, Colorado.

Having acquired land through his well-connected wife, Rumalda, Thomas moved his family to present-day Colorado in 1862. There, they built an L-shaped, 6-room home on the west bank of the Purgatoire River. The same year he also built a trading store that would service the area as well as travelers along the Santa Fe Trail. Before long, more settlers moved to the area and the ranching and agricultural settlement of Boggsville was born. Just a few years later, with the help of some of the locals, Boggs built a larger adobe house in 1866 that Territorial architecture with Spanish Colonial architecture.

In 1867, more residents arrived at Boggsville when Fort Lyon moved to a new site just three miles northeast of town. Before long, Boggsville developed the first large-scale farming and ranching operations in southeastern Colorado, which included irrigation. That year residents dug an irrigation canal called the Tarbox Ditch, which was seven miles long and irrigated more than 1,000 acres. Fort Lyon would buy nearly everything the farmers at Boggsville could produce. During this period Boggsville grew from a few adobe structures to a full-fledged community of 20 or more buildings.

One of most influential people to arrive in Boggsville that year was a merchant and rancher by the name of John W. Prowers and his Cheyenne wife named Amache. Prowers had also been a teamster who had worked for William Bent and for the Sutler at Old Fort Lyon. Planning on doing business with Fort Lyon, he built a large two-story, U-shaped adobe house with 14 rooms. Not only did it serve as the family's living quarters, but at various times as a town center, stagecoach station, school, and political office. In addition, Prowers built a general store on the east side of Boggsville which opened when brother-in-law, John Hough, arrived with merchandise later in the year. The store sold cloth, candles, knives, saddles, powder and shot, boot, liquor, beef from Prowers' Hereford cattle and other general groceries. Prowers raised horses, cattle, and sheep eventually growing his cattle herd to some 10,000 head by the 1880s.

Also arriving was none other than Kit Carson, who settled in Boggsville in December, 1867. It would be his final home. Early in 1868, Carson traveled to Washington, DC, to help negotiate a treaty with the Ute Indians. Soon after his return, his wife Josefa died on April 23, 1868 from complications after giving birth to their eighth child. When Carson had arrived home he had been feeling ill and it worsened after the death of his wife. He was soon moved to Fort Lyon, where he died on May 23, 1868. His body was brought back to Boggsville and buried next to his wife, who had died a month earlier. Their bodies were later reinterred in Taos for permanent burial. Boggs was named the executor of Carson’s will, and the Carson children became part of Boggs’s extended family.

By 1870, Boggsville had become the center of society in the area and was named the county seat. Thomas Boggs became the town’s first sheriff in 1870, and he was elected to the territorial legislature the following year. The county offices were located in the Prowers House and a public school was built. In a short time the settlement of Boggsville grew into a center for trade and education

As the area developed a new town sprang up across the Arkansas River in February, 1869 called Las Animas City and a bridge was built across the river. In the beginning Las Animas City was a rough and tumble town and no threat to Boggsville. That would change however, when the the Kansas Pacific Railroad built a branch line from Kit Carson to Fort Lyon in 1873 and built its own town, which they called West Las Animas. The same year, Boggsville lost its county seat status to Los Animas City. John Prowers also relocated to Las Animas, where he built a new house and opened a general store. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad arrived in Las Animas two years later. Thomas Boggs moved to Springer, New Mexico in 1877 after his wife's land grants were contested.

By 1880 the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad had reached Santa Fe, New Mexico, hammering a death knell in the use of the Santa Fe Trail. Now freight could be transported by rail car and there was no need for wagon caravans across the plains. This was the final blow for Boggsville. In 1883, after Boggs' ownership of the land was confirmed, he sold the property to a man named John Lee for $1,200. It later became the San Patricio Ranch of 3,000 acres under the Lee family. Afterwards it began to pass through a number of hands; however both the Prowers and Boggs homes remained intact.

In 1985 the owners donated 110 acres encompassing the Boggsville site to the Pioneer Historical Society of Bent County. Using a grant from the State Historical Fund, the Pioneer Historical Society restored the Boggs and Prowers Houses over the next decade and opened them to the public as an interpretive museum. Boggsville was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 24, 1986. Boggsville is located on the Purgatoire River, two miles south of present day Las Animas on Colorado Highway 101. It is open during the spring and summer months.

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