I grew up around Maud Hughes Rd and with the legend of a particular haunted bridge known locally as Screaming Bridge. Said to be haunted with ghostly apparitions and blood curdling screams, with Satan worshipers using the lost souls that wander there to do their bidding. We were warned not as kids, by older classmates and parents parents to stay away from that area as strange things had always gone on there.
Urban legends tell us of a more sinister origin to the name. It’s said that the ‘scream’ that is heard is that of someone who has died here. One of the earliest tragedies linked to the bridge goes back to a railroad accident in which two men were scalded to death when the locomotive they were on exploded between West Chester and Gano. However, that accident was in West Chester Township (formerly Union Township). The Maud Hughes bridge is in Liberty Township, yet somehow, the accident became attributed to this area.
The tales tell us though that the ‘Screaming Bridge’ name came from one of several possible other events. Stories such as an arguing couple crossing the bridge, when a woman was pushed, or fell, to her death. Or of another couple breaking down at the bridge, and the boyfriend left his girlfriend behind to go get help. When he later returned, she was found hanging by her neck from the bridge. Yet another tells of a distraught mother throwing her newborn baby from the bridge, so the screams you hear are of her misery and horror of what she did.
While these are all stories told of any number of bridges around the world, there’s more. Reports of phantom trains or engineers on the tracks below. Orbs seen floating along beneath the bridge, along with supposed Satanic rituals taking place below as well. Still other variations of the tales say that if you stop on the bridge, and flash your headlights 3 times, some form of ghostly activity will occur. I wouldn’t recomend trying though, the bridge turns sharply at either end, making it impossible for oncoming traffic to see you until they are right on you!
A 1909 accident killed two engineers and injured 3 others aboard a train on October 24th. One of the engineers killed was off duty, hitching a ride back home to Middletown when the steam locomotive exploded. It had been fully loaded with water when it left Ivorydale in Cincinnati, but after about 11 miles out, a leak had drained most of it, causing the explosion. That accident wasn’t the only tragedy along that stretch of track. On June 7th. 1976, at the Princeton Road overpass in Liberty Township, a Penn Central employee was killed when two rails protruding from a southbound work train penetrated the cab of the Northbound locomotive he was on.
So while I can’t say no one had died here, in fact, i’m sure someone has at some point in time, but all these tales surrounding the bridge seem to be just urban legend, or error. But who’s to say, after all, those phantom trains and engineers have to come from somewhere, maybe they are just passing by here on their way to the other side!
Well Marsha and I decided to go have a look and see what nasty little things we could find to support or debunk the legends. As we headed out I was looking forward to seeing the years of graffiti, satanic alters and paraphernalia that literally crowded the place when we had gone there as teenagers in high school.
As we neared we saw the road was closed, we passed the sign, (HINT: Always read the signs you might avoid an embarrassing and costly situation.), got close and I could see the heavy earth moving equipment where the road and bridge should be. My heart sunk..road closed + industrial equipment=renovation/destruction of yet another historic place in local folklore.
I had not been there since my party days in high school 35 years ago, to find this construction was a sad thing to see. The only thing that gave me heart was that I know from experience this overpass/underpass will return to its former status as a haunt because these places draw it back and back again no matter how modern or scenic you make it look. In 20 years or so the next generation will tell the same tales to their children and classmates giving birth to a renewed curiosity that most people can’t resist.. (HINT: renovations often leads to an increase in paranormal activity as the homes and other familiar places entities are possessive of or attached to,exert their pull on those that cannot or refuse to pass into the next life. My gut feeling on this phenomena is that change whether you are dead or alive is stressful and many people will fight it tooth and nail as to not to have to endure it. Especially if they don’t realize they are dead and are confused and angry at strangers daring to tear up their homes still under the impression that their home is being invaded by total strangers.
So since we made the trip, and no work was going on at the time and I have to admit we were overly curious, we decided to brave the thick mud (it had rained for days prior to this) and take a peak at “progress.”
It looked so new and sterile, devoid of any character’ that it seemed as if the gods of technology had crushed the ghost stories with their mighty machines..I went out a little too far and slipped down the muddy embankment so I decided to at least take a peak since I was covered from head to toe in clay mud. The bridge, an all to frequently see cheap government prefab, seemed lifeless and I could feel no menace. I did however manage to walk the train track north a ways (HINT: This is an active track so be aware, use your eyes and ears and don’t play games with a train…they win every time.)
Between the trash covered embankments and the tangled second growth trees as I got further down the air did get heavier and I could feel eyes on me but could not tell from just where. (Hint :always have a secondary site in mind in case plan A is a bust) So up and out and to the house after a very disappointing scout.
Well construction at that point looked about 2-3 months away so waiting patiently, as you learn to do when in an urban jungle environment, we gave it the summer and drove out to see what we could see. Now there is NO PARKING on the road near or on the bridge but there is a small maintenance access road to the left as you cross over which leads right to the tracks almost underneath the “new” screaming bridge. We followed it and parked the car out of the sight of looky-loos and went to take a look.
Being the Urban Explorers we are, collectors of antique bottles, ceramics, metal, jewelry, technology and any industrial cool gadgets we can find. Our eyes immediatly looked for telegraph pole lines, that always ran the train tracks because it had been cut and graded for them by the railroads. Sure as heck two turn of the century poles were still standing right across the tracks. The value of these are the glass (later ceramic) insulators, that the telegraph lines ran through. These range in color from clear, to cobalt, to a deep amber and are beautiful works of glass blowing technology of the late 19 to early 20th centuries. They weigh about 10 pounds each but are highly valued because most we either destroyed with the pole or the were shot at and cracked for target practice, which I did participate in growing up. The point is they are awesome works of art and people pay top dollar for them. These poles were however denuded of their glass insulators but by following the grade you can always find ones that have fallen off rotting crossbeams. (HINT: always look at the base of these telegraph poles from the center working our way outward. If the land has a slope follow it at the bottom is your treasure).
After a little side trip into the woods, the deer were flourishing here, they were all around snorting and crashing through the brush, we decided to take a look at the “new” Screaming Bridge..and take in the feel of the location.
Not a long walk, nice day, sunny and none of the heaviness I had felt here in the past when we came as kids. There was an uneasiness and stillness to the place that could be felt just below the surface. The walk was short and the underpass in a pristine virgin-like condition, not yet tagged with satanic signs or the telephone numbers of desperate and perverted people.
No graffiti, no devil worshipers nor dead animals, the place was a blank slate, a pallet ready to be decorated and desecrated. Of course the local authorities deny that any satanic activity takes place there, after all an extensive investigation by the FBI twenty years ago determined there are no organized satanic groups in America abducting children and adults to become sacrificial offerings. Their conclusion is not only frighteningly naive but may indicate that these practices take place and that these linked groups are attended and supported by influential people such as politicians, bankers and industrialist. Over 50,000 people vanish without a trace every year in America, some no doubt on purpose, but a majority are just gone. Those numbers are incredible if you think about it, that’s the population of a good size town every year gone, vanished……….where do they go? So cults, child and adult slavery rings, and selling people for sex on the black market do exist and I believe them to have varying degrees of contact and affiliation with each other. I have no doubt there is a large cult of satanic beliefs that do talk, plan and sometimes act in concert with one another.
So the “new ” Screaming Bridge is done and open for business but as of October it seems untouched.
Looking south down the tracks, where many of the apparitions and orbs are seen to come from its different, not so pristine or so new. Garbage litters the tracks on both sides, and exploring here I did happen to come across a dead cat about 300 yards from the bridge. Coincidence…you decide.
So that’s the story,the legend and some say reality of Screaming Bridge are very real and will continue to plague this slightly “off” stretch of track.We neither saw nor confronted anything paranormal or supernatural yet we both had feelings and intuitions about certain places along and beside the track and rail bed itself but for now the bridge seems quite and content in it’s new form. I imagine however it won’t be too long before we hear a story of new happenings associated with the new bridge. A good scary legend never dies and is passed down through generations as not only entertainment but as a warning not to stray.
We plan on a visit this summer 2016 so the restless beings here have chance to reassert themselves and to see if any satanic activity takes place again under Cincinnati’s Screaming Bridge. Stay tuned for updates…my bet it reverts to its previous bad vibe in quick order. So stay tuned we will be back with and update.