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Why Do People Visit the Devil’s Crossroads?

Why Do People Visit the Devil’s Crossroads?

The devil’s crossroads is a theme in religion, folklore, and literature from around the world.

Something about a crossroads has long made people think of criminals, Satan, and trickster gods. Naturally, the crossroads is where you’d go to meet such figures.

In American music, the story of the devil’s crossroads is entwined with the story of an early blues musician. But did he really go there and make a deal with the devil?

Let’s take a look!

What is the Devil’s Crossroads?

Throughout history, people viewed crossroads as places of mystery and shadows. The convergence of roads represents the natural and supernatural worlds mingling. In the UK, criminals were often tried and buried at crossroads. In mythologies around the world, crossroad gods have been tricksters. 

One famous example of selling your soul at the devil’s crossroads is the story of Dr. Faust, who does just that. His story, and other stories about the devil’s crossroads, made it to America through the European settlers.

These superstitions melded with African beliefs brought over by slaves, who had their own ideas of the crossroads’ potency.

The story of the Devil’s Crossroads not only survived as cultures merged; it thrived.

Man with guitar walking in Devil's Crossroads
Keep an eye out for a devilish character when crossing through a crossroad.

Who Was Robert Johnson and Why Did He Visit the Devil’s Crossroads?

In the early 1900s, Robert Johnson was a Mississippi Blues musician famous for being a founder of the Delta Blues. His life wasn’t very well documented, and there are only two verified photos of him. When the facts aren’t there, mystery has a way of taking over. 

Stories grew up around him. Some said he was walking towards a crossroads when a stranger offered to tune his guitar. Johnson accepted, not knowing that this helpful roadie was actually Satan and the guitar tuning was the infamous transaction.

Others said Johnson sought out the devil to improve his music. 

Johnson’s song “Cross Road Blues” is a classic of Delta blues, and many interpret it to be about meeting the devil at said crossroads. However, his family and descendants repeatedly state that Johnson never made a deal with Satan.

In addition, early blues music is full of references to mojo, black cats, casting spells, and the devil, so you might want to take references to the devil’s crossroads with a grain of salt.

Unless, of course, you’d rather not.

Why Do People Visit the Devil’s Crossroads in Mississippi?

Johnson’s music has captivated people for nearly a century after his passing. Though little is known about him, there are still documentaries and tribute albums made frequently about him. And the story about the devil’s crossroads is an exciting tale, whoever it’s told about.

Combine Johnson’s reputation with the lore of that story, and you see why people love to visit, whether it’s music or folklore or both, that they’re seeking.

In addition, one of the road signs incorporates three blue guitars, and boasts a sign reading “The Crossroads.”

Pro Tip: If you’re hitting the road to visit the Devil’s Crossroads, make sure to have these 7 Road Trip Essentials with you.

Where is the Devil’s Crossroads in Mississippi?

The location of the devil’s crossroads is frequently debated, especially since there may never have been one.

However, its modern site is considered to be at Highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

People playing instruments at a blues bar.
Enjoy the blues while exploring the Devil’s Crossroads.

What Else is There To Do in Clarksdale?

Ground Zero Blues Club

Ground Zero Blues Club offers the experience of an old blues club (known as juke joints) in a much more modern building. In 2001, actor Morgan Freeman started the club with other investors in hopes of preserving Southern culture. 

They decided not to remodel the long-vacant wholesale grocery building that had been there. Instead, graffiti, mismatched chairs, and strands of Christmas lights adorn the walls. 

Traditional Southern food is on the menu. Plus live artists play there most nights of the week, including many local ones. 

The Delta Blues Museum

The Delta Blues Museum is a jewel of music history, committed to sharing artifacts of a culture that wasn’t well-documented.

They have exhibits devoted to the life and work of Delta blues musicians as well as photographers and artists who took part in the movement. 

General admission is $12, with discounts for children, seniors, military personnel, blues society members, and students. 

Where to Stay Near the Devil’s Crossroads

Isle of Capri Casino RV Park

Thirty minutes out of Clarksdale is the Isle of Capri Casino RV Park. It offers 28 spaces with 50-Amp. The RV park is on the site of a casino hotel, so if you’d enjoy doing some gaming, you won’t have to go far. 

The RV sites are in the casino’s parking lot, so this isn’t a place to seek natural beauty or outdoor adventures. However, reviewers report it being quiet, clean, and secure. Plus, the rates are low at around $17/night. 

Pro Tip: Uncertain about how to find a place to park your RV for the night? Read up on How To Find Camping Near Me? – Campendium Tutorial

Is a Trip to the Devil’s Crossroads Worth It?

While we can’t be sure where the crossroads was, or if it or the devil were ever there at all, Robert Johnson’s legacy owes much to this story, and that’s worth celebrating. 

We can be sure that the crossroads will enrich your understanding of the Delta blues. So will spending time in Clarksdale, said to be ground zero of the whole movement. You don’t have to sell your soul to get there.

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