The Levee Walker
From the darkness, a small light emerges growing larger as it grows closer and closer. During my teenage years it was common for groups of teens to venture to the river bottoms and see if the Levee walker was to make an appearance, the bravest calling out his name, challenging him to appear. Most teens would inevitably return to the safety of the car begging to get out of there, not sure whether they actually wanted to see if this urban legend was a reality. If the levee walker was or wasn’t seen, the experience became apart of the culture of hometown lore. Like most urban legends, the tale of the levee walker consists of several different stories and just enough fuzzy details to leave someone wanting more.
The first origin story of the levee walker dates back to the original construction of the levee. A possible altercation began when one man took an interest in another man’s wife. In the end either husband or the offender was killed, his body being quietly buried in the levee still under construction. Never receiving a proper burial, his ghost is said to walk the levee at night searching for his body under the faint glow of a lantern. It is said that the ghost might consider your presence on the levee an invitation to help him find his body. If you are disrespectful, as the story goes, you may find yourself being pursued by the glowing basketball sized orb of light that allegedly depicts the presence of the levee walker.
Another origin of the levee walker consists of an angry old man trying to teach kids a lesson in the 80’s. Teenagers would often partake in activities that teenagers should not partake in under the protection of the quiet and sparsely populated river bottoms. An older man lived nearby and took note of these ongoing activities and as the partying continued late into the night, decided to try and scare the kids in hopes they would not return. The old man dressed in dark clothes and with an old lantern climbed the levee and began walking towards the kids. As he grew closer, they did indeed grow scared and as the man grew closer and closer they panicked, running to their cars hoping to make a hasty retreat. During the confusion one teenager accidentally threw the car into reverse and hammered the accelerator, striking the old man most likely killing him. Guilt forced the teen to come back later and investigate what he had hit in his hazy state of panic. Upon returning to the scene no sign of the old man was found, only a broken lantern. The old man’s vengeful ghost continues to walk the levee seeking retribution on groups of partying teens for his death. His presence being made known by the approach of the glowing light of a lantern appearing in the distance and growing nearer.
Another story takes place soon before the flood of 1993. A hippie was allegedly walking up and down the levee lighting joints with his lantern. Feeling the affects of what he was smoking, he somehow fell into the waters and drowned. His spirit is said to be an angry one, chasing those who interfere with his ongoing patrols on the levee.
All of these mentioned stories have little historical evidence to back them up, and are not likely to contain any kind of absolute truth or fact. What I find more interesting is regardless of what if anything happened on that levee, why are these reports so similar. In all cases a person sees what is usually describes as an orb of light appear and seem to grow closer. I’ll be the first one to admit, it’s highly possible that these eyewitnesses may have been partaking in certain activities that might distort their perception of a situation. For the sake of argument however, let’s assume they weren’t and actually did see what they claim…what could it have been? I’m a strong skeptic when it comes to things such as ghosts, however i think that everything should be given a fair chance to have evidence evaluated. Could the levee walker sightings be a natural occurring phenomena whose occurrence has spawned all these stories to try and explain it?
I am reminded of another mysterious light that exists near Joplin, Missouri on the border of Missouri and Oklahoma. This light of a mysterious origin is called the The Hornet Spooklight, also often called The Joplin Spooklight or The Devil’s Promenade. In a remote area a lone paved road runs through the countryside. For over 140 years there have been consistent sightings of a mysterious orb of light that forms and travels down the road towards eyewitnesses. Many people and organizations including the army corps of engineers have investigated this mysterious occurrence, trying to figure out the source of this light. Many urban legends also surround this light, stories of Native American spirits and ghost lanterns of deceased miners are included. Several explanations have been propose including one that suggests the lights are reflections from passing cars on nearby interstate 44. Other explanations involve electrical anomalies as a result of the “piezo-electric effect”, which is thought to be the of an electric charge by quartz when the mineral is put under pressure Others think that the lights are escaping gases from old zinc mines that have somehow managed to ignite.
Both the legend of the levee walker and the Hornet spook light share similar accounts, in fact there are many areas around the U.S. that claim mysterious lights. Though some photos, be it poor quality exist of the Hornet spook light, I have yet to see any photographic evidence of the levee walker…and nowadays any proposed photographic evidence could be easily created via photoshop. Logic tells us that the levee walker is just a typical urban legend created by teenagers who were probably already paranoid, potentially drinking, or smoking something. Any strange light reflection or figment of the imagination is sure to alarm you if you believe you’re dong something you shouldn’t be. Truth has no home in urban legends. However, urban legends such as the levee walker are the social fabric that create a tapestry of culture and give a community color and a unique story that is all its own, stories that make Quincy…..Qtown.
How about you, have you ever seen the levee walker? Let us know about it in the comment section below!
Editor’s Note: Qtown strongly discourages trespassing of any kind.