It’s not difficult to get the creeps in Baton Rouge—especially around Halloween. All those creaking old buildings, sagging oak trees with ghostly moss and historic Civil War-era sites.
Here’s a reminder of a few Capital City landmarks that have kept locals’ hair standing on edge for years.
There are plenty of stories inside the State Capitol building, but the grounds are just as spooky. Arsenal Park is marked by the Old Arsenal Powder Magazine, an 1838 military storage building surrounded by a brick wall. It changed hands from the Confederacy to Union forces and served as a museum into the early 2000s.
The lush grounds around it are popular for engagement photos but have also provided plenty of supernatural encounters. Soldiers are said to walk among the oak trees.
Adding to the layers of mysterious history: a Native American ceremonial mound next to it that’s more than 1,000 years old.
THE SPANISH MOON
It’s been a thrift store, a homeless shelter, a tavern, a temporary morgue and today the most popular indie concert venue in town. But it’s likely the morgue past has given The Spanish Moon its pedigree for haunts.
Bartenders have told tales of hearing noises while they close up for the night and witnessing cocktail glasses moving or beer taps turning on by themselves.
Though the venue recently underwent renovations, that usually doesn’t seem to stop the bumps in the night.
BATON ROUGE NATIONAL CEMETERY
The stately military cemetery on Florida Boulevard was established in 1868 for Union soldiers. It also became a relocation spot for the graves of other soldiers buried throughout the region.
Around 500 of the nearly 3,000 graves in the cemetery hold the remains of unidentified soldiers.
So it only seems natural the cemetery is full of souls with unfinished business. Some of the alleged spirits seem to conduct their own Civil War reenactments in early morning fog. Others are soldiers searching for lost friends or maybe even trying to find their original graves.
THE OLD STATE CAPITOL
The Gothic castle-style landmark has a storied past and now serves as one of the most recognizable attractions in the city. With all its modern-day visitors, someone was bound to come into contact with a longtime resident.
Reports from staff and tourists alike point to whispers and footsteps, as well as a “hot spot” in the basement, which functioned as a prison during the Civil War.
Ghostly encounters include a soldier, a former legislator who died of a heart attack during heated debate, and the friendly spirit of Sarah Morgan, whose published diaries provided insight into the Old State Capitol’s early days. In fact, the museum makes use of her “ghost” as narrator of an immersive video projection show that surrounds the audience with tales of the building’s history.
The stretch of Highland Road south of Lee Drive is one of the most picturesque routes in Baton Rouge. It sounds like there are ghosts around every tree-lined curve, too. Most stories involve Confederate soldiers hobbling along the shoulder, usually only seen in the fall. The 2013 book Haunted Baton Rouge claims some of those sightings were even called into the police, but we haven’t found news evidence that corroborates this.
Still, it’s probably wise to keep extra alert when driving down Highland Road this month.
Every town has that one creepy road spawning plenty of urban legends. For Baton Rouge, it’s Frenchtown Road, which tracks deep into the hardwood forest on the eastern edge of the parish. It crosses under a rickety railroad overpass barely wide enough for most vehicles—and on the other side is where the legends lie.
The wooded area is at the confluence of the Comite and Amite rivers. Some say witches lived (live?) there and devil worshippers held ceremonies there. The raised railroad tracks are covered in graffiti in several spots, and Google Street View shows visible pentagram symbols drawn on the rusted frame as the railroad crosses the Comite.
So there’s either been occult activity, or some local teens are trying to make sure the legends live on.
On the plus side, BREC turned it into a conservation area a few years ago, complete with trails on the nearly 500 acres and views of both rivers. Brave enough to take a hike?
SOURCES: Haunted Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge Cemeteries and media reports.
This article was originally published in the October 2018 issue of 225 Magazine.