ILLINOIS CENTRAL SPOOK LIGHT
Located near the Mississippi town of Beauregard is a train crossing that has become known as simply "Flag Stop" over the years by the men who work the Illinois Central Railroad. During the 1920's, engineers along this route were plagued by a phantom lantern which would stop the trains as they were making their runs along this stretch of line. It became so bad that railroad detectives finally came into investigate.... and you'll be surprised with what they found. It's the first time that I know of that Illinois Central detectives ever confirmed the existence of a ghost!
The problems began in 1926. One night, an engineer was guiding his train through Beauregard when he saw a lantern swinging back and forth down the tracks ahead of him. The brakeman yelled for his attention and said that it looked as though someone was trying to flag them down. The engineer began slowing down and came to a stop, never taking his eyes off the swinging lantern. Once the train was brought to a halt, he called out to the person who had been signaling him. There was no one there!
The engineer and the brakeman climbed off the train and searched the area. The light had vanished and no one was around. They stared off into the darkness for a few moments, hoping to see or hear something... but there was nothing.
When the men reached McComb, they reported the incident to their supervisor, who was skeptical and laughed about the story..... and he would continue to laugh when the same engineer reported seeing the "ghostly" lantern again the next evening. He wouldn't take the story seriously until a few nights later, when another crew reported seeing the light along the same stretch of tracks.
The reports continued to come in and the supervisor began keeping a log book of the accounts. He was afraid to turn them incidents over to his superiors, feeling that they would laugh at him. Finally, he took the reports to the office. Instead of laughing, his supervisors turned the information over to two railroad detectives who promised to look into what was going on.
The detectives began interviewing everyone who had seen the lantern and found the reports to be remarkably similar. They realized that every account came from the exact same location.... near an old house on the edge of town. They learned that the house had belonged to a local doctor named Rowan, who had been killed several years before. The house remained furnished, although it was abandoned.... and it also had a very strange reputation.
To explore the haunted history of the house... we have to back up a few years.
On a Sunday afternoon in 1883, a cyclone hit Beauregard and wiped out most of the town. It swept away the saloons, the churches, the hotel, the post office, the town hall, two schools and 35 houses. There were only three houses in town that escaped serious damage and one of them belonged to Dr. Elias Alford Rowan. When he had built his three-story, 23 room house a few years before, Dr. Rowan had envisioned turning it into a hospital one day... and for those few days in April 1883, he did just that.
Dr. Rowan was greatly respected and admired around town, for his medical and church work and his various achievements on behalf of the local people. Although he hardly seems the person to be involved in a haunting... he may have been the sole reason for it.
After Dr. Rowan's death, the house earned a reputation as the local haunted house and people began reporting "strange" things and hearing eerie noises there. It would be years before anyone would dare venture into the structure, despite the fact that the doctor's furniture and belongings had been left behind.
But what became of Dr. Rowan?
According to what the Illinois Central detectives learned, Dr. Rowan was killed around 1912.... by an Illinois Central train. It had been late one night when the doctor went to meet the train and collect a passenger who was also one of his patients. He was walking down the tracks, with his back to the engine. Dr. Rowan had been quite elderly by this time and some have speculated that he may not have heard the approaching train. Regardless, even though the engineer blew the whistle at him. he walked right in front of the engine. Just before it hit him, he turned and saw it coming. He waved his lantern wildly and yelled "stop".... but it was too late.
For years after, the light continued to appear alongside the tracks, flagging down the approaching trains. The detectives were never able to find any other source for the light, save a supernatural one, and eventually the case was closed.
And Dr. Rowan's ghost was allowed to rest in peace.
The town of Beauregard is located about 40 miles south of Jackson in the south-central part of the state. If you are traveling on Interstate 55, it is 2 miles north of the Wesson exit. Dr. Rowan's house, which was finally torn down in the 1940's, was located on the south edge of town, near the Illinois Central tracks.
Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor
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