Haunted Plantations: Spectral Phenomena at New Orleans River Plantations

Destrehan, one of New Orleans haunted plantations, has a beautiful and sometimes spooky avenue of oaks
Avenue of Oaks at Destrehan Plantation
Jilted lovers, wounded soldiers, ruined plantation owners, mistreated slaves, tragically ill infants, children that have lost their way …. These are just a few of the past residents of the impressive Greek Revival mansions that line the river in New Orleans Plantation Country.  Although long gone, some of these restless souls still wander the halls and grounds of the storied plantations along the Mississippi including the famously spirited Oak Alley Plantation and San Francisco Plantation, where sightings continue to draw investigators intent on capturing images of these haunted residents.

It’s no surprise really, that one of the oldest and most historic regions in America would fuel close encounters of the otherworldly kind.  Think about the days when the plantations were at their apex and sugarcane brought sweet fortune to many and misery to so many others. By the 1790s, the German and Acadian coasts contained a rich mixture of French, Indian, German, enslaved Africans, Acadians and Spanish.  Deeply held beliefs in the afterworld created a culture of compelling mystery and lore that led to the mystery of these haunted plantations.  Add in the natural tragedies and losses of the human condition and no wonder New Orleans Plantation Country claims a long and rich piece of Louisiana haunted history.

St. Joseph Plantation

For generations, residents, guides, and visitors alike have encountered earthbound entities whose spirits have somehow—and for some reason—remained behind.   The reverence and ritual surrounding death at a Creole plantation is chillingly recreated October 2 through November 4 at St. Joseph Plantation, one of the few fully intact sugar cane plantations in Louisiana.  Visit to find the plantation home swathed in black crepe, mirrors covered, candles and flowers accentuating the black draped coffin in the main hall, an old Creole custom of home visitation.  Wishing the newly departed this traditional bon voyage worked in most cases…but not all.

In the fall, enjoy special presentations and tours of New Orleans Plantation Country's haunted mansions

Oak Alley Plantation

Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie may be the epicenter of the paranormal.  From candlesticks sailing through the air to marching Confederate soldiers, a string of eerie events have been witnessed and recorded at Oak Alley Plantation over the years. There is also young boy and a teenage girl strolling the grounds, all under the watchful eye of a stern looking lady in black, a plantation owner from days gone by.

San Francisco Plantation

Not far away, another plantation owner is restless. The ghost of Charles Marmillion, one of the sons of the original owner of San Francisco Plantation, continues to wander the rooms of the Steamboat Gothic abode, which dates back to about 1850.  While Charles is busy inside, ghostly children can sometimes be spied frolicking on the expansive front lawn, sightings confirmed by renowned field parapsychologist Dr. Larry Montz.

Houmas House Plantation and Gardens

At Kevin Kelly’s beautifully restored Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, an alee of oaks and stunning garden greet visitors, but that sense of tranquility can shift at any time.  When Kelly purchased the plantation at auction in 2003, he literally left no stone unturned renovating the long-shuttered property.  All that activity seems to have stirred up someone, or something long dormant. Workers first reported seeing her, and now guides and guests have seen her too, a little girl in a blue dress with large dark eyes and brown hair, standing in the hallway at the stairs.  Approach her, and she disappears, at least for the moment.

… And that’s not all

The stories go on, of ghostly horses at La Branche Plantation in St. Rose to a wailing mother and child at Whitney Plantation and the pirate Jean Lafitte descending the stairs at Destrehan Plantation.

Tales of hauntings whisper through New Orleans Plantation Country like the sound of the wind in the live oaks along the river.  What’s simply a story told around a campfire in another town, another place, is real in these parts, in the haunted plantations that make up New Orleans Plantation Country.

Photos courtesy of New Orleans Plantation Country