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St Louis Cemetery #1: America's Most Haunted Cemetery

Updated on April 13, 2018

The St Louis Cemetery #1, New Orleans

Growing up a couple of hours away from the French Quarter, I have walked by this cemetery a few times, and have to say, it is a very creepy feeling. Needless to say, we usually get past it pretty quickly. Something about these old graves being so high above the ground, it's like you're walking literally among the dead.

This "City of the Dead" includes the graves of all kinds of souls - Creoles, Americans, Slaves, Immigrants, Catholic, and Protestants are all buried here.

New Orleans is a city built at sea level. If you buried a casket in the ground when the city was first built, the frequent floods from the Mississippi River caused the caskets to float out. Because of this, early settlers had to build the tombs above ground. This is the first of many "cities of the dead" built in New Orleans.

As you traverse through the maze of these strange works of art, you might hear sounds of weeping or groaning coming from inside the crypts. Others have spoken of a strange mist which seems to hover around certain graves, sometimes forming a transparent figure. There is an old man's face which sometimes appears on the wall of another tomb. More likely than not, the ghost you might see is that of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. There has been a non stop stream of sightings of her every since her death in 1881.

The Oldest Cemetery in New Orleans

The Oldest Cemetery in New Orleans
The Oldest Cemetery in New Orleans

One Year and One Day

Then your "dead time" is up!

The tombs at the St Louis Cemetery #1 are built above ground. The tops are loosely sealed with a stone closure and brick mortar. After your body has been buried for at least one year and one day, the crypt can be opened, your remains pushed back, your coffin burned, and someone else can be buried on top of you.

Because of this practice, this cemetery has several hundred thousand souls buried within one city block! Imagine... if you didn't get to heaven after a year and a day, you had to go somewhere..... or else you'd be lying in the tomb with the next dead guy. Gross!

Is it haunted?


Is it the Voodoo - That makes it so spooky?

One of the many religions represented here... a combination of folklore and real tradition. For some it is a peaceful experience, but for others, not so much. It's perhaps the unknown that make us afraid. Maybe if we learned a little more about it, we would not be so afraid....

Marie Laveau - Creole Voudoo Queen

Marie Laveau's tomb
Marie Laveau's tomb

The ghost of Marie Laveau is said to be seen walking among the tombs in the city of the dead. She was a powerful woman in her day, which was most of the 19th century. Born a free Mulatto (mix of Caucasian, African American and American Indian), her clients were from all backgrounds and religions. She was Roman Catholic, and mixed her spells with Saints and her African heritage. Her first husband was Haitian, and he may have taught her some of real Voodoo practices from Haiti as well. She was a hairdresser for wealthy white women for many years, and gradually developed a following of both black and white clientele.

People visit her tomb still today in hopes for her helping them. She is without a doubt the most famous ghost of St Louis Cemetery #1

New Orleans Voodoo - May surprise you!

Have you seen an above ground tomb? - Was it more spooky than a regular grave?

Let's take a poll: If you think above ground tombs lend themselves to the existence of ghosts more than being buried in the ground, speak up!

Are above ground tombs more haunted than graves in the ground?

See results

St Louis #1 is..

the mother cemetery ...

the Vieux Carrier of the dead;

as confused and closely packed a quarter

as the living metropolis...

Grace King, 1895

Walking among the dead

Walking among the dead
Walking among the dead

What do you think? - Please add your comment - and thanks for stopping by!

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    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Very interesting. I have read a lot about this and other cemeteries in New Orleans, and would like to visit them. Good hub.