Updated: Feb 8, 2020
Have you ever been to crybaby bridge? If you live in or have ever been to the U.S., there’s a good chance you’ve at least been near one. Dozens of supposedly haunted bridges have been given this name, and the legends behind them usually involve child death, often at the hands of the child’s own mother — so, you know, nice pleasant things. Here are six crybaby bridges across the United States.
According to legend, a mother thought her two children were possessed by the devil. So she drove them to the bridge, where she proceeded to purposefully drive off the side and into the river below, killing everyone in the car. They say if you park on the bridge with your windows rolled down and honk three times, you can hear a child’s voice say “Don’t do it, mother!”
Where these stories came from isn’t entirely clear. One blog post I found mentioned the story of Ellis Anderson, a 4-year-old who was accidentally struck and killed by a mail carrier. I couldn’t find anything online backing up this story, but the original poster mentioned finding it in a newspaper, so maybe I just didn’t dig deep enough. Either way, if any part of this legend is true, I’d advise you to maybe not park on the bridge if you can avoid it.
2. Liberty Township, Ohio
Our next bridge is on Maud Hughes Road in Liberty Township, Ohio, about 25 miles north of Cincinnati. The bridge runs over a railroad and has been around since at least the 1870’s. At some point the bridge was torn down and replaced, but the old bridge accrued more than its share of dark stories and urban legends. At least 36 deaths and gruesome accidents have supposedly taken place in the area.
According to the most famous legend, a couple was driving across the bridge when their car broke down. The man left his girlfriend in the car while he went to get help. When he got back, his girlfriend was hanging by her neck from the bridge, presumably already dead. (No versions of the legend I could find said anything about whether he actually found help.)
There have been rumors of other accidents in the area, though I’m not sure any of them could be confirmed. Most of them involve train crashes killing railroad workers or train passengers, but one is about a bus driver who loses control and kills everyone on board. Another legend involves a mother throwing her newborn from the bridge, which is going to be a common theme in these stories. The baby’s mother was said to have hanged herself afterwards, which will also be a common theme. There’s yet another story about a girl who jumped out of the car after an argument with her boyfriend, but got too close to the edge and fell to her death. There have also been stories of a shooting at the bridge in the late 1980’s.
Unsurprisingly, the bridge’s morbid history has made way for plenty of paranormal activity. Sightings of apparitions, mists, orbs, hooded figures, and phantom trains and engineers have all been reported. According to legend, if you stop on the bridge and flash your headlights three times, you’ll see some sort of unspecified paranormal activity. No idea what said activity consists of, but since the bridge is apparently on private property now…investigate at your own risk.
Our next bridge is at the end of multiple narrow, winding gravel roads in Westminster, Maryland. As if that wasn’t creepy enough, there’s also a cemetery along the final road.
This bridge doesn’t have quite as many legends associated with it, but the stories that do exist are pretty terrifying. The first one involves a young girl who got pregnant, presumably out of wedlock in a time where this was more frowned upon, and was afraid to tell her parents. She had the baby but, once it was born, she threw it off the side of the bridge. Legend says you can hear her dead baby crying.
In another similar story, a slave owner had a relationship with one of his slaves, who got pregnant. Once that baby was born, the slave owner threw it off the bridge. There are also legends of KKK members throwing black babies off the bridge. Yeah…I told you the stories were terrifying.
Multiple witnesses have reported hearing and seeing ghost children on the bridge. One commenter on this blog post parked on the bridge at night and swears they heard a voice saying ‘wanna come play?’ Yeah…as sweet as the invite is, I think I’d probably have to pass.
4. Salem, Ohio
Salem’s crybaby bridge is located just off Egypt Road and is now closed to traffic. Stories of satanic cults have reportedly plagued the bridge from its early days, and there’s even a story about a woman who was burned alive in a cage on the bridge as part of a satanic ritual in the 1970’s. There are also stories of a string of teenage suicides in the area around the same time. In a very real case from 2010, a woman’s burned body was found in a van near the bridge. As far as I can tell, this murder remains unsolved.
But the bridge’s most popular legend dates back to the 1930’s. It involves a couple who was arguing on the bridge and didn’t realize their young child had wandered off. The child fell off the bridge and drowned in the creek. In some versions the mother realizes what’s going on and jumps in the creek to save her child, but ends up drowning herself. When the father comes looking for them later, he finds the bodies, panics, and runs off into the woods, never to be seen again.
Since then, people have reported all sorts of paranormal activity. Witnesses have claimed to see fog or a blue mist and hear a baby crying during the day. A dark figure has been seen off the road, thought to be the father who ran into the woods. There have also been sightings of orbs, although I’m always skeptical with orbs, since they could easily be the camera malfunctioning or something weird going on with the lighting.
5. Helltown, Ohio
So let’s start with the obvious here: Helltown is a pretty sinister name. The area known as Helltown, Ohio is actually part of Boston Township and was founded in 1806, but closed and abandoned in 1974. Helltown is chock full of legends and ghost stories, including its very own crybaby bridge.
The legend behind the haunting is pretty vague, but also resembles a lot of other similar ones. The ‘woman in white’ who haunts the bridge is said to have thrown her baby off the side — I told you that was going to be a common theme. But the ritual to summon this lady is oddly specific. Park your car on the bridge, turn it off, lock the doors but leave the key in the ignition and walk away. If you come back an unspecified amount of time later, the motor will be running and the car will be covered in tiny handprints. I guess you’re supposed to run off and get a burger or something while ghosts break into your car.
At some point, the bridge passed over the Cuyahoga River. But all the recent photos I’ve seen show that area as completely dry. Some people also believe that the prints on your car are actually from turkeys and raccoons in the area. Personally, I’m not convinced that raccoon paws and human handprints look anything alike…but the idea of a ghost turning on your car is also kind of a stretch. So who knows.
6. Crystal Springs, Ohio
Of the six bridges on this list, four of them are in Ohio. I swear I didn’t do this on purpose — there are just a lot of crybaby bridges in Ohio. In fact, in my research, I came across nearly a dozen of them. Seriously, what are you people doing up there in Ohio?
Anyway, this legend is probably the darkest one on the list. As the story goes, a man brought his wife and newborn baby to the bridge one day. Once there, he proceeded to hang the wife from the top of the bridge, killing her. Once this was done, he took their baby under the bridge and drowned it in the Tuscarawas River. Then he hanged himself under the bridge.
This supposedly happened before 1913, when the original bridge was destroyed in a flood. A new, temporary bridge was built, and later replaced by a permanent one. The area around the bridge became a park in 1996, and cars can no longer drive over it. But despite all of this, witnesses report seeing a woman’s body hanging from the top of the bridge and hearing a baby’s cries.
Have you ever been to one of these bridges, or one similar to it? Let me know in the comments.
Westminster bridge photo: Matthew O’Thompsonski/Flickr
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Crybaby bridge off Egypt Road (Salem, Ohio): Dalemccartney/Wikimedia Commons
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All other photos protected under Fair Use (https://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/what-is-fair-use/)