Sunday, February 16, 2014

Return to Rodney - Semi-Deserted Mississippi River Town

Rodney, Mississippi, is a semi-abandoned town in Jefferson County, Mississippi, about 30 miles north of Natchez. It was once a thriving river town, but the river changed its course in the early 20th century, and the town declined rapidly. According to Wikipedia, the Rodney Center Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
One way to reach Rodney is to drive through Alcorn State University - literally through campus - and take the back gate on the west side of campus to Rodney Drive.  It is gravel much of the way and winds through loess hills and woods.  Soon you reach the remains of town.
Mt. Zion No.1 Baptist Church, Rodney
Entry hall, Mt. Zion No. 1 Church
As you enter town, the elegantly simple Mt. Zion No. 1 Baptist Church is ahead of you one block.  It is open via the front door and looks like it had some tender loving care a few years ago.  But rain and decay are taking their toll.
House near Mt. Zion No. 1 Baptist Church
Look out the door, and you see a house being swallowed by vines.
Rodney looking east from Mt. Zion No. 1 church
Look east towards the town and you see some fields that may occasionally be mowed and a few deserted buildings.
On the right when looking out of the Mt. Zion church is an old store, a substantial brick building, but now decaying badly.

At the corner of Rodney and Muddy Bayou Roads sits the old Brumfield Grocery.  In 1985, it must have only recently closed because it had a fairly modern gasoline pump out front.  Today, it has some fencing to keep out visitors or vandals.
At the north side of Rodney Road is an old house with a well.  The structure is still standing but will not be for long.
Two more abandoned farms are on the south side of the street (the same side as Brumfield Grocery). One is almost engulfed with vines. Oddly, just a short distance away is an active farm with some handsome cows, so Rodney does still have residents.
Rodney Masonic Lodge (Kodachrome slide).
Rodney Masonic Lodge, Rodney, Mississippi, 1985 (Kodachrome slide)

A short distance north on Muddy Bayou Road is the old Masonic Lodge. In 1985, it still had a lodge sign, but that must have been stolen decades ago.
Old Rodney Presbyterian Church, Muddy Bayou Road 
The Old Rodney Presbyterian Church is one of the most commonly-photographed buildings in town.  I have periodically read of preservation groups trying to maintain or restore it, but am not sure of the status.
Continue north on Muddy Bayou Road, and there are some more abandoned houses.
Hunters like Rodney.  One hunting camp is the old railroad car. Another occupies an old house. I was there on New Year's Eve, and the camps had occupants ready for a good party. We saw a couple of well-dresssed city ladies in high-end SUVs come into town - I think they were not planning to hunt (for deer).

On the way back to Port Gibson, take the Old Rodney-Port Gibson Road, cut deep into the bluffs in some sections. Rodney is a fun place to visit.  Go in winter, before the jungle and poison ivy takes over. For more information, The Southern Lagniappe blog has an nice 3-part article on a 2011 visit to Rodney.

1980s photographs taken with Leica cameras on Kodachrome film. The 2013 photographs were taken with Fuji X-E1 and Panasonic G3 digital cameras.

2 comments:

  1. We often visit Natchez to see my husband's family. I'm going to have to figure out a way to get a trip to Rodney in somehow.

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  2. The substantial brick building is the former City Hall.

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