At The Crossroads with Hugh DeNeal

It’s time for the annual Riverlands Musical Episode! On a snowy evening in February, we had the pleasure to talk with Riverlands singer/songwriter Hugh DeNeal. Hugh is an absolute legend in the Riverlands musical community with a unique style all to himself. Hugh and his legendary southern Illinois band, the Woodbox Gang, have an electric style of bluegrass that has been described as “Insurgent Americana”, though the band preferred the term “Trashcan Americana”. Hugh’s unique storytelling style through his music make him a perfect Riverlands musical guest. Enjoy!

10 Questions with…The Screaming Ghost Girls

Our next entry into our 10 Questions with Paranormal Investigator interview series features Michelle and Rebecca from the Screaming Ghost Girls. What started out as a ghost hunt as part of a girls weekend getaway quickly morphed into a full blown adventure for Michelle and Rebecca. They’re hilarious, they know their history and we think you’re really going to enjoy our interview with The Screaming Ghost Girls!

10 Questions with…Parallax Paranormal

This episode is the first in our “10 Questions with…” series. In this version of the series, we’re featuring conversations with Paranormal Investigation groups from all corners of the Riverlands.
In this episode, we sit down with Shannon, Nick, Jason and Ryan, 4 out of the 5 members of Parallax Paranormal. Parallax Paranormal utilizes technology to try to capture evidence of paranormal activity and offer their investigative services free of charge to clients. Parallax Paranormal were really awesome to talk with and we hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did!

Coming Soon: 10 Questions with…Paranormal Investigators

Introducing a Riverlands side series: 10 Questions with….where we interview groups and people from the Riverlands.  We aren’t sure where this series will take us, but for now, we are starting with several paranormal investigator groups from across the Riverlands. Though not paranormal investigators ourselves, we’ve always been fascinated with those who dare to venture a little further into the unknown. So, join us over the next few months for some wild tales as we discuss what draws these groups to investigate the paranormal and their investigation methodology. We can’t wait for you to hear their stories!

Jesse’s Story

Tonight’s episode is an addendum to our previous episode, Guided by the Spirit. Our guest Jesse shares his brush with the CSA with us. We hope you enjoy Jesse’s story. Thanks for listening!

Guided by the Spirit

Tonight’s episode is an origin story of sorts- a self-proclaimed hero’s descent into villainhood. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. This is a story about Jim, a man who was lead by the spirits of the Riverlands on a journey that ultimately ended in terrorism and murder. Jim was a preacher who founded a survivalist Christian community deep in the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks. Jim’s sermons became increasingly paranoid and foretold the decline of civilization. What began as a community of the lost and idealistic, eventually evolved into an extremist paramilitary organization that dissolved after a multi-day standoff with the U.S. government. You can find more information in our show notes! Thanks for listening!

A Very Riverlands Holiday Special

Happy Holidays! This year, we’re continuing The Riverlands tradition of Christmas ghost stories. In this special episode we chat with Jonathan, the city planner for Hillsboro, Illinois. Jonathan shares our interest in history and high strangeness and recently started a ghost walk for downtown Hillsboro. We talk about Jonathan’s favorite local ghost stories and Hillsboro’s revitalization over the past 10 years. Thanks for listening! We will see you in the new year!

The Space Penguins of Tuscumbia

In central Missouri, just east of the Lake of the Ozarks, is a town of 200 people called Tuscumbia. By all accounts, Tuscumbia is a small, quiet river town. But in some corners of internet, Tuscumbia is legendary. This is because, on a chilly  February morning in 1967, a farmer named Claude Edwards said he spotted something strange  on his way to tend to his cows, sparking a story that would become known as The Space Penguins of Tuscumbia. Thanks for listening!

The Riverlands Halloween Special Part 1

We’re back! We’re kicking off Season 2 with a two part series in celebration of the Halloween season! While researching stories for Season 2, we came across many stories of high strangeness from across the Riverlands. We’re really excited to share these stories with you! Each story is told by those who experienced them, in their own voices.

We hope you enjoy them! Happy Halloween!

The Coming of the Nightriders

In the Season 1 finale, we bring you part two of the story of Reelfoot Lake. What began as a series of protests against a wealthy businessman blocking local access to drain and log the lake, quickly morphed into something much darker and violent. We hope you enjoy the story of the Nightriders of Reelfoot Lake!

What’s Buried Beneath: The New Madrid Quake

In Northwest Tennessee, just across the Mississippi river from New Madrid, Missouri is a flooded cypress forest called Reelfoot lake.  Spanning 15,000 acres, this shallow, peaceful lake is a birding and fishing paradise. But despite it’s placid waters, Reelfoot Lake and the region it inhabits has a grim history starting with it’s violent creation as a result of the New Madrid Earthquake. In this first episode of a two part series, we tell the story of one of the largest earthquakes in recorded US history and how it changed the geography of the Riverlands.

Bonus: American Spiritualism

Katherine from the Mourning Society of St. Louis returns to discuss the history of American Spiritualism and the group’s upcoming event on the topic. Spiritualism was a religious movement that became popular during the Victorian era, and centered around the belief in the existence of the human spirit beyond the grave and the ability of some to communicate with these spirits. We hope you enjoy learning about spiritualism as much as we did!

Summoning Demons of the Past

In this musical episode of the Riverlands we speak to musician Stace England, a singer/song writer from Southern Illinois, about his writing process and why he chooses to tell these stories. Stace’s ability to capture a story and atmosphere into song drew us to him and his music. During our discussion, we realized we were all chasing the same stories and the same monsters. We hope you enjoy this episode! Be sure to check out more of Stace’s music on youtube or Spotify!

Bonus: Chasing Strangeness

Richard joins us to share his first hand accounts of high strangeness in Western Illinois. He shares stories about the Argyle Monster, Sasquatch and something….even stranger. We hope you enjoy his stories as much as we did! Thanks for listening! The photos mentioned in this episode can be found in our show notes.

The Archivist: Conversations with Dr. Lorenzen

Dr. Michael Lorenzen joined us from Western Illinois University to discuss his research into the bigfoot phenomenon in Western Illinois. Dr. Lorenzen emphasizes the importance of primary sources in his research and is dedicated to documenting them. He shares his research philosophy with us, insights into good research practices and several historical accounts from Western Illinois. You can find the resources Dr. Lorenzen shared with us in our show notes.

The Ozarks UFO Messiah

Our story in this episode originates straight from out of the tent revivals of old, and ends with a pyramid built deep in the Ozark hills. This story has it all: UFOs. Nazis. Sex. Murder. The death of a wealthy widow at the Yahweh City Commune in Phelps County, Missouri kicked off a series of events that caused a whole scheme to unravel. A scheme of a man who promised salvation from an impeding nuclear holocaust via thousands of UFOs, if you could pay for it. Joseph Jeffers was the self proclaimed Messiah of the Yahweh cult and founder of Yahweh City. This is his story.

Bonus: Creature from Big Muddy Documentary

In this bonus episode, we sit down with Joe Tury of RedRoom Creative Media to discuss his latest documentary, Creature from Big Muddy: An Illinois Bigfoot Legend. The Creature from Big Muddy explores the legendary Big Muddy Monster that lurks around the town of Murphysboro, Illinois. The lore of the Big Muddy Monster centers around a series of alleged Sasquatch or Bigfoot sightings in and around the Murphysboro area, particularly near the Big Muddy river. You can find more information about the documentary in our show notes.

The Mourning Society of St. Louis

This episode features a discussion with Katherine from the Mourning Society of St. Louis about historical mourning, death culture and funeral customs. The Mourning Society of St. Louis is a civilian reenactment group that brings historical funerals to life as public educational events. The group hosts several events throughout the year and if you’re interested, you can find more information at mourningsociety.com or on social media. We were especially excited to learn more about the Mourning Society because they are the only reenactment group of their kind, located right here in the Riverlands. We hope you learn as much as we did!

Winter Ghost Stories

In the spirit of the holidays, we thought we’d resurrect the long lost tradition of telling ghost stories during the Christmas season. In this episode, our guest, Zach, tells the story about a haunted house where he and his roommates lived during college. It’s quite an eerie tale and we hope you enjoy it!

The Drowned Fortress

This is the story of Fort Bellefontaine, the first US military post west of the Mississippi. Two hundred years ago, it was the last outpost of civilization before heading into the newly purchased Louisiana territory. The fort was witness to many pivotal historic moments in the early days of the United States and host to several famous American explorers. Within twenty years of its establishment, the fort was abandoned. Now, Fort Bellefontaine lies drowned beneath the Missouri River, existing only in memory.

The Riverlands: An Introduction

We will be your guides along the backroads and waterways of forgotten America. Through aging coal towns and ancient sloughs. Down moonlit gravel roads and into the dark corners of the midwest. This is a place we like to call The Riverlands. The Riverlands are a shadowy liminal space. A dark and forgotten stretch of geography.