It seems there are certain areas located on the topography of the earth that simply are host to inexplicable events and even materialization of extraordinary entities. These are not hoaxes or misidentifications, but either perhaps misunderstood rare phenomenon or truly bizarre beings from an unknown realm. In my lifetime I’ve met people involved in law enforcement, the US military, and just plain citizens who have experienced the unknown-and lived to tell about it.
Road to the unknown
When one takes a drive east from Dallas on Interstate 20 the black top highway makes a strange transition from the Piney Woods of East Texas with scenic views, pleasurable landscape, and easy to navigate roadway to a very sudden transition into a very different environment. The clean distinction between roadside and good highway visibility morph into a shadowy nightmarish realm where overhanging trees cast shadows over the entire highway. Where road shoulders are narrow or nonexistent with steep drop offs that become swamp or wet lowlands. As one continues further east time seems to stand still as one passes small hamlets and villages now in Louisiana jurisdiction and under old Napoleonic Law where parishes exist instead of counties.
It is here in small towns like Ruston, Alexandria, Fishville, and Natchitoches spread out through the dense woods and swamps with a canopy that darkens the outdoors even in broad daylight. It is here in this semi-tropical and gloomy world of the forgotten that strange legends and foreboding stories abound. It is here where two abandoned military bases have become the centers of disturbing encounters between people going about their normal routines and an ominous presence still collide. Camp White and Camp Beauregard are former World War II training grounds for US troops headed for the South Pacific to retake the islands occupied by the Japanese.
Legacy of the supernatural
Yet, a disturbing history of creature encounters, hauntings, Voodoo, and disappearances seem to plague the area. Near the two former military camps now abandoned reports of teenage backseat lovers being scared out of their wits and fleeing from monsters or brightly pulsing aerial lights have frequently sent young adults racing away down two lane blacktop roads in a panic as fast as their car can drive! One deer hunter reported hearing a weird buzzing noise as he stood atop an old log trying to retrieve a squirrel he had shot when he saw an object the size of a car gliding over the ground. Curiously, he noticed a USAF Jet fighter overhead and for some reason thought that the aircraft was searching for the stranger hovering machine. He was unnerved by the ominous sound and fled the area. This happened in broad daylight in the woods not too far from the city of Alexandria and England Air Force Base.
A group of three friends near Alexandria were out in the wee morning hours catching frogs and fish when they decided to head back home. After gathering their gear they headed for their truck but got disoriented out in the dark woods. They saw what appeared to be the headlights of passing vehicles at the top of a low lying hill and walked up what they thought was a steep road shoulder. Thinking once they got to the road that they could locate where their truck was parked they ran into a surprise, there was no road there at all! Only the level grounds of more darkened woods! What were the lights they had seen racing along as they watched from below? Once they finally located their pickup truck and got home there was a very strange block of missing time they could not account for.
Of death and war
In the town of Opelousas, the former state capitol, a haunting takes place on occasion that takes one back to the days of the Civil War where Confederate soldiers and Yankees clashed time and time again in the thickets and swamps. Sometimes a Union trooper unfamiliar with the alligators that make these densely wooded areas their homes, would lose a leg once the jaws slammed shut on the victim’s limb! At the old court house in the town square it is said that some Confederates were hiding out in the basement of the building as a force of Union troops scoured the area searching for the enemy. A bloody skirmish broke out when the two enemies met. The rebels held out for a while but then surrendered but according to accounts were not taken prisoner but murdered by the Yankees.
Voices from the grave
To this day the cries and moans of Johnny Rebs shot and killed by the Union soldiers can be heard in the darkness surrounding the old court house. Films have been taken on many Civil War battle fields of what appear to be the ghostly apparitions of the dead combatants moving stealthily through the woods as if still locked in battle! Some of the local residents have attempted to record the freakish moans of the dead who apparently haunt the old building in downtown Opelousas. It seems the deceased do not always rest peacefully.
The French Canadians migrated from the north to Louisiana now known as Cajuns who can trace their ancestry back to their descendants from Canada. But, the French did not only bring their families along but also what they call loup garous, French for wolfman! Said to roam the swamps and dense woodlands this supernatural legend has been feared by Cajuns throughout Acadiana and North of New Orleans for years. Said to have come into existence from the curse of a witch even the local Indian tribes in the area have their own version known as Wendigo. Both creatures are supposedly powerful, fast, and can easily break bones! Just as Native Americans associate Bigfoot as cannibals, the Wendigo is also a man-eater! Just as early European settlers off the east coast of North America would dislocate the bones of the dead if they were suspected vampires the same grim deed was performed to stop the loup garous chopping off the heads of bodies or burning the corpse.
Several sightings, encounters, or confrontations were reported for years in and around the Atchafalaya River Basin. Where the superstitions of the French Canadians endured for a long time and were taken quite seriously. Camp fires, torches, and even silver bullets were used by area residents at night or whenever out hunting or trapping in the dark, nightmarish, landscape. Some say that if Catholics did not observe certain rituals prior to Easter loup garous would punish them. Why do such myths persist? Is there a shred of evidence that is at the core of such fear? One can only speculate. Is it simply a coincidence that such occurrences have happened near abandoned or active military facilities?