Ghosts in Patsburg?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 9, 2005

Paige Green said she has always believed in ghosts, while her mother, Rona, suspects paranormal sightings and haunted houses can easily be explained away.

On Monday, June 27, both were confronted with something quite unexplainable.

Rona owns Rona's Country Store in Patsburg, located a mile or two near the Patsburg Bridge, which crosses the Patsaliga Creek. Scheduled renovation of the bridge began the first week in June.

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The bridge, itself, had long been in need of repair and re-construction. It was narrow and highly dangerous for the volume of traffic that flowed through the small community. Patsburg and Petrey residents crossed the bridge daily on Highway 59, headed to Luverne. College students and travelers to Troy seeking a shortcut from Greenville also used the bridge to bypass Luverne on their way to Highway 10, via Highway 50.

The bridge has seen its share of deaths. Rona said two people were killed in a car accident years ago. Paige, meanwhile, related a story she heard about a man fishing in the creek from the bridge and pulling a dead body from the swampy water that runs beneath it.

Good start for a ghost story.

Rona said she and her daughter walked to the construction site that Monday around 7:30 p.m. to take pictures with their digital camera. The majority of the bridge had been removed and construction equipment sat empty, the workers through for the day.

They noticed nothing out of the ordinary when reviewing the photos conveniently on the back of the camera. It was only when they returned to Rona's store and Paige had downloaded the photos to the computer, magnified now, that they found something odd on a single picture; an orb of orange light, just in the center of the bridge and on the left.

The orb was popularly referred to as ghost lights or 'Will o' the wisps,' Paige found out later while researching the Internet. She also found out that ghost lights are quite common in the south. While 'Will o' the wisps' could be explained away as pockets of swamp gas, ghost lights are a trickier subject, appearing in the same position infrequently. And they're also not always visible to the naked eye, as was the case in Patsburg.

Paige also discovered the light could serve as a deadly warning against the living.

"After that I was scared half to death," she said. "When everyone found out about the pictures around here, we had about 20 people wanting to go down there and take more pictures. I was like, 'no, I'm not going!'"

Rona said she was told later by a local landowner that he'd captured the same light on the bridge with camera almost a year ago. The other film in his camera, she said, was ruined, except for the one with the ghostlight. Workers at the bridge construction site also reported

to her that their machinery has been malfunctioning near the ghostlight sighting.

People from Patsburg to Petrey have stopped by Rona's store to see the photos.

"Everybody around here is fascinated by it," said Rona.

Rona said while her daughter was intrigued - and at the same time a bit cautious - by what the camera captured, she said she hasn't really given the possibility of a restless spirit lurking around the Patsburg Bridge much of a thought.

"I'm not scared of the dark," she said. "It doesn't bother me one bit."