Mississippi is visited for its southern charm and hospitality. Today, it is known for blues and bluegrass music, magnolias, and as Oprah Winfrey’s home state. However, it was once home to men and women who worked in sawmills, farms, railways, and even science centers! They settled by the mighty Mississippi River and inside the wild landscape of the Magnolia State to build a new life. However, natural disasters, poor planning, and some horrible acts of man caused residents to abandon their homes, rendering several communities “ghost towns.”
The ghost towns in Mississippi aren’t necessarily haunted. However, dilapidated buildings, silent cemeteries, and homes stuck in time give off eerie vibes. If you love exploring history and need a thrill, take a trip to Mississippi. The southern state is home to many abandoned or near-abandoned ghost towns that can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand straight up with a slightly uneasy feeling. Explore Mississippi’s ghost towns and learn unheard stories of the state’s past!
Located in Jefferson County, the small town of Rodney was once three votes away from becoming the capital. Now it sits abandoned and stuck in time. In fact, no one knows how many may still live in the town because it is not even listed as a separate entity by the Census Bureau.
The town was struck with many unfortunate and unpredictable events that decreased the population. Waves of yellow fever along with the Civil War left it in ruins. When the Mississippi River changed its course in 1870, this was the nail in the coffin. Rodney lost its port, so when a fire decimated the area and river commerce dried up, railroads didn’t see the need to reach the failing town.
If you visit Rodney, you will see the forgotten First Baptist Church and cemetery. Both have been untouched by man for over a century.
An early settlement in Mississippi, this village was once a cozy town on the west bank of the Tombigbee River at the mouth of Tibbee Creek. Today it sits in Lowndes County near a local dam, waterway, and the Plymouth Bluff Environmental Center.
The village turned into a Mississippi ghost town due to its frequent flooding. Plymouth was low-lying, and though it had a high bluff on the river, residents could not easily access this higher ground. Due to the flooding, residents moved to Columbus, the non-flooding town on the other side of the river.
Visitors to the area will see some remnants of the town as well as its cemetery.
3. Rocky Springs
Like many on this list, the now ghost town of Rocky Springs once had a promising future. It was a popular pit stop for those seeking water on the now Natchez Trace Parkway. Inhabitants saw moderate success in the town. There were three merchants, four physicians and teachers, three clergy, and 13 artisans. As with other Mississippi ghost towns, Rocky Springs had a post office and a cotton-driven economy.
However, as time went on, the town spring dried up and boll weevils destroyed valuable cotton crops. Additionally, a murder occurred in the 1890s. Its nefarious streak continued when it became a popular hideout for bandit Samuel Mason. He attacked and plundered travelers along the Natchez Trace Parkway.
Today, visitors can view the town during the day and placards along the parkway tell of the town’s history. Rocky Springs’ Methodist church from 1837 still stands and even held regular Sunday service until 2010. Ruins of the town include a post office safe and a cistern, which are viewed along a loop trail. Adjacent to the church sits a graveyard, where some original settlers have their final resting place.
As the name suggests, the town was once home to a lumber company. At the time, H. Weston Lumber Company was the world’s largest sawmill located right in Hancock County. However, the company went out of business by 1930, with the town’s population peaking at 3,000. Residents left the town for greener grass. Any remaining residents left by 1960, when NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center was built nearby. In fact, the space center created several ghost towns in Mississippi within 125,000 acres of it.
All that remains of Logtown is a privately-owned cemetery and some remnants of the town’s buildings.
Named after its founder, Dr. Ambrose Gaines, the town of Gainesville was settled in the 1800s. It enjoyed success as a port town during the high times of river travel. However, after the railroad was introduced, the town’s economy declined. A space center was actually built over this town, and though it closed, visitors can still check out the INFINITY Science Center. It offers a nice change of pace from the desolate ghost towns.
This abandoned town is in Pike County near the Bogue Chitto River. It was a hub for trade and business due to river travel. In its heyday, Holmesville was a busy resort town during summers, as people escaped the dangers of New Orleans. The success continued until the creation of the Illinois Central Railroad attracted residents to bigger cities, such as Magnolia and Osyka. Holmesville suffered further economic devastation when its courthouse caught on fire.
Visitors can still see the Mississippi ghost town’s ruins. Although it isn’t much, two churches and a store still stand frozen in time.
The ghost town of Brewton saw success with lumber and turpentine before the Civil War. It reaped the benefits of the Pascagoula River, but bad luck snuck around the riverbend. The sawmills burned twice, and the town went through several owners, each of whom pulled administration in different directions. Then, the courthouse burned down. To make matters worse, the rumor mill claimed the culprit was an outlaw. The bad management and fiery events prompted residents to leave for greener pastures.
The only remaining structure for passersby to see is the basement of the town’s courthouse.
Though all ghost towns are desolate and give off sinister vibes, few have a backstory to match. Bankston was whipped off the map due to the evils of the Civil War. When the Union Army discovered that Bankston’s mill turned out 1,000 yards of cloth and 150 pairs of shoes a day for the Confederate Army, they took action. On Dec. 30, 1864, the North burned down the small town’s factories. Fortunately, no one died in the fire. However, the town’s cotton, wool, and flour factories all burned in a single fateful night, cementing Bankston in ghost town history.
If you go to the town’s location today, you will only see an untouched cemetery.
(The next five towns aren’t abandoned. However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, all their populations are under 100 people.)
The village sits in Smith County and is about 60 miles east of Jackson. Sylvarena is only 2.6 square miles.
The small area is on the border of Mississippi and Alabama in Monroe County. This Northeast Mississippi village is about 40 miles from Columbus. For as small as it is, Gattman has a town hall, a Baptist church, and a working post office, all on 0.6 square miles of land.
The village of Doddsville is halfway between Cleveland and Greenwood. It was originally a logging and farming community founded by a father and son in 1891. The 107 acres of land survived the creation of the railroad because of a depot in the town. The community even has homes that are still standing a century later.
Learned sits in Hinds County. Even with a population of only 54 residents, it still has one of the best restaurants in Mississippi! About 25 miles from Jackson and 27 miles from Vicksburg, sits H.D. Gibbes & Sons, which is a combination general merchandise store and restaurant. Four generations of family members have operated the establishment since its creation in the 1800s. It continues to be the central place for residents to shop for food and supplies. Visitors from Jackson frequent the establishment to eat some of the area’s best-grilled steaks, lamb chops, and seafood.
The small village along the Yazoo River in Yazoo County has a rich history of logging and farming. Its name is a Choctaw word meaning “pumpkin place.” There are small gourds that grow in the area, and in the early 1800s, the village was a busy shipping point. Steamboats delivered goods like cotton to New Orleans via the Yazoo River.
While the census states the village has 38 people, the residents recently conducted a “recount.” They landed on 68 residents, but Satartia maintains its legal status as a “town.” And though it may be small, it still has its urban legends. The Satartia Bridge dates back to 1976, and locals say you can hear moaning from the river if you sit around long enough. They believe it is the spirits of the Yazoo Tribe who marched into the river when they refused to surrender to the French. Others say it is those who lost their lives in the Civil War when 29 boats sank in the river.
We’ve taken a glimpse at the small villages and ghost towns that dot the great state of Mississippi. They all have rich backstories that pique any explorer’s interest. If you ever go to the Magnolia State, consider visiting its forgotten areas for a different view of the state’s history.
Summary of 14 Ghost Towns in Mississippi
|Almost became state capital; population decrease due to yellow fever outbreak and Civil War destruction
|Sat on the west bank of the Tombigbee River at the mouth of Tibbee Creek; frequent flooding killed the town
|Town spring dried up; boll weevils destroyed valuable cotton crops; murder occurred in 1890s; bandit Samuel Mason plundered travelers there
|H. Weston Lumber Company was the world’s largest sawmill in Hancock County; town died when it went out of business in 1930
|Settled in 1800s, but declined due to railroad; INFINITY Science Center built on site
|In Pike County near the Bogue Chitto River; was a hub for trade and business due to river travel; Illinois Central railroad and burning down of courthouse ended town
|Had a lumber and turpentine industry on Pascagoula River; sawmills burned twice, administration changes, and burning down of courthouse ended town
|On Dec. 30, 1864, the Union army burned down all factories during Civil War, ending the town
|Pop. 86; in Smith County 60 miles east of Jackson
|Popl. 79; on the border of Mississippi and Alabama in Monroe County
|Pop. 67; halfway between Cleveland and Greenwood; was originally a logging and farming community founded by a father and son in 1891
|Pop. 54; in Hinds County, it has one of the best restaurants in Mississippi–H.D. Gibbes & Sons
|Pop. 38; small village along the Yazoo River in Yazoo County with rich history of logging and farming
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Justin Wilkens/Shutterstock.com
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