Ghost Stories

The Cut-off

A Louisiana Ghost Story 

retold by

S. E. Schlosser

The devil was in the Mississippi River that night. You could feel it with every eddy swirling against the helm of the boat. You could hear it in every jangle of the bell. You could see it in the dim light of the lantern as it tried to pierce the swirling fog. You could sense it in the sound of the chugging engine. The devil was in the river. It was a bad night to be out in a paddleboat. But he had sworn when he set out that nothing could make him turn back.

No other pilot dared brave the Mississippi that night. They were all huddled in the tavern, gossiping. After an evening of listening to their empty boasts, he had made one himself. He knew the Mississippi River so well that he could guide his paddleboat on his run even through the thickness of the night's fog. When the other pilots heard his boast, they laughed and told him he would be back before midnight. He had grown angry at their jeers, and had sworn in front of them all that he would not turn back this night for any reason, should the Devil bar the way!

The paddle wheeler was rocking oddly under the strange eddies of the river. But he knew every turn and guided her along despite the fog. He was almost to Raccourci when he saw shore where no shore had ever been before.

He turned the boat this way and that. It could not be! The river ran straight through on this branch. He had guided his paddleboat through this place a hundred times.

But the devil must have been listening at the tavern and had heard his boast, for the Mississippi had shifted! He swore every curse he knew, and kept searching for a way through. He had vowed to complete his run without turning back and he was determined to carry out his vow. He would never go back. Never! He would stay there until daybreak, and beyond if need be.

Suddenly, the paddleboat gave a massive jerk. The engine stalled. The boat shuddered and overturned. When the fog lifted the next day, they found his paddleboat sunk to the bottom with a gaping hole in its side, and the pilot drowned.

On foggy nights, you can still hear the ring of the bell, the sound of the engine and the curses of the ghost captain trying to complete his run.


You can read a longer version of the Louisiana folktale in Spooky South by S.E. Schlosser.


wow thats creeeeeeepyyyyy

That was a good story

wow.....thats kinda cool...
that guy must be pretty brave

Lol thats kind of funny
I'd kinda like to hear a Ghost ringing a belle and screaming curses

So you dont like professional folklorists and ghost researchers, and it's all for show & business, huh? Nothing wrong with that, I'm a loner too, hence I'll quit commenting before you'd ruin MY business. This is a serious subject, not some business to creep our ways to the upper classes and I can tell you the dead and all the other creatures dont really like when people are treating them like some business issues.

Great site nonetheless, this I have to admit, and I'll be hangin around to read the remaining stories that are of my interest and research, but I also have to admit that this recognition have raised some doubts in me concerning the truth behind these tales as well as the proper research into these tails before posting them.
So good luck for your business, I'll go on my research instead.

P.S.: if you want a great story to add to the rather empty Illinois folklore section then dig up the story of Resurrection Mary. You'll find quite a lot info on the web since she is perhaps the most well known ghost of the whole Chicago area.

That`s cool

good story but i have read better:)


wow, i think ive heard tht in new orleans when my family was on vacation! nice sotry

great story;]

it was an okay story. but i am pretty sure the devil can't do that. he's powerful and all but he can't do stuff like that. if he can....i'd like to see him make the Mississippi turn direction. if he does that, i will take back that comment.

that is so creepy..... ooooo

it is not scary

ths is a very good ghost storie......cccrrreeepppyyyy

that was a creepy but good story... It gave me the chills but i totally love it!!!!

He told the truth, he never came back...

(or turned around)

thats nothing compared to the story in the book! how do i know that? cuz i have the book

pretty good


kinda the best story ever scary

Famous characters Ghost Stories Folktales


Schlosser, author of the Spooky Series

About the Author: S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series by Globe Pequot Press, as well as the Ghost Stories deck by Random House.  She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of "let's pretend" quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children's Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author. Read more

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