Friday, January 17, 2014

Spook Bridge-What Kind of Crossings Happen Here?


Not far from Valdosta, Georgia there is a location that not many know about outside the area, but is quite legendary in the Lowndes County and Brooks County communities.  The locals began to call it Spook Bridge, a simple enough name, and it stuck.  As the internet and social media become a larger part of our everyday lives, the bridge and its "spooky" legends are getting more attention.  I first read about this legend in Jim Miles' book Weird Georgia. However, as our college has a campus in Valdosta, I began to ask folks from that campus about it and some of them had interesting stories to tell. I felt that it would be worth my time looking in to and possibly posting to the Georgia Mysteries Blog, so here it goes.

The Youtube video above is one of the most visited links relating to Spook Bridge, and it is posted there for you to view. There are others posted on Youtube. As a matter of fact, there seems to be several uploaded by a user named Pat Clendenning.  I would check all of those out.

The bridge has quite an interesting history.  Built somewhere around 1920 near land owned by the Walter Cunningham family, the bridge led to a well-known resort named Blue Springs. It attracted visitors from all over the state to its natural spring called the Blue Hole.  It appears that there were a few drownings at the Blue Springs Resort during the years of its operation, and the wreck of a gas truck back on the bridge in the 1940s took out several dozen feet of railing that were not immediately repaired.  Natural disaster took its toll on the resort when in the late 1940s, a flood washed out the roads leading to the bridge, which made the passage unsafe for travel.  Later, the state built another route and bridge nearby that diminished traffic through the area to the resort, and by the 1970s Blue Springs was no more.  Later in the 1970s, vandals began  to venture out to the abandoned bridge and spray paint graffiti and satanic messages on its sides and railings. Others report that cult activity occurred in the area, particularly at night.  The legend of Spook Bridge, as it began to be called in the late 70s, was born.

Of course, with the bridge abandoned, having a very colorful history, and surrounded by dark woods and a rushing river below, legends and stories did crop up.  A few of the legends that have surfaced and become part of the fabric of Spook Bridge include the deaths of a few people.  One, there is a story that includes a couple who lived in a nearby house.  The legend states that the couple walked along the bridge one day, and the husband pushed the wife off the bridge, leading to her death. I sort of wonder what led him to do such a thing, but the legend does not include that pertinent piece of information. Perhaps the couple quarreled, or one of them was pugnacious in nature, but whatever the case, the wife died. Legend has it that she haunts the bridge and her ghost can be seen trying to climb from the murky waters below to get back on the bridge with her husband. Another legend includes this same couple, albeit the husband kills the wife in their house nearby and then commits suicide.  Their ghosts, as you can imagine, took up residence near the bridge.

Another legend focuses on a high school couple who visited the bridge and wrecked when they ran in to the railing on the side of the bridge, broke through, and their car was swept away by the river below.  A third legend focuses on a school bus full of children that ran off the side of the bridge in to the river below. I have seen very little to substantiate either legend, but I did not look that hard either.  Perhaps you can find it, or the proof that dismisses the legend.  It is also said that people who visit the bridge have experienced what they think are fists and hands pounding on the hood of their cars as they approach the bridge.

Of course, this area is dangerous, and wrecks most certainly could occur on or near the bridge, as it has been washed out in part and is structurally unsound in other places.  The road leading to the bridge has been ripped apart in places, there are rips in the asphalt in the road and bridge, broken glass is everywhere, and there are signs of gang and cult activity in the form of graffiti and paraphernalia left in the area. The local sheriff's department does its best to patrol the area and keep visitors and legend seekers away, or at least in areas where they will not get hurt.  The bridge is known to flood when it rains, as there is a river beneath. If you decide to visit, I would clear it with local authorities first.  As with all legend trips, there is danger involved.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Spooky Georgia: Book Review


Spooky Georgia: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore by S.E. Schlosser is one of a series of books in the Spooky Series written by the same author with Globe Pequot Press as the publisher.  Schlosser is a researcher and frequent writer about American folklore.  Her series of books gives a decent account of interesting legends and tales of the supernatural in the various states she examines.  Potential readers should not be fooled by the title.  Not all of the tales recounted by Schlosser are spooky or hair raising in nature. In fact, there are a number of Native American legends included. The most interesting of the Native American tales told in the book is that of the Nunnehi.  According to legend, these are beings that inhabit Blood Mountain and are there to help those travelers on the mountain who have lost their way, are hurt, or feel frightened and confused.  Of course, there is much history and folklore already associated with Blood Mountain, as it is the location of one of the most intense battles between the Cherokee and Creek peoples of Georgia, the two leading historical tribes in the state's history.  The beings, often called "the immortals," are a part of Cherokee Indian legend, and have found a place among the many Native American tales associated with the tribe.
Schlosser, who also traveled part of the state in search of folklore and legend to include in her book, divides the text in to two parts, one solely dedicated to ghosts and hauntings, the other dedicated to good and evil presences in other forms.
One tale in particular that interested me was titled "On the Tracks," and is credited to the city of Lawrenceville, a city located in Gwinnett County in the Atlanta metro area.  As most of my readers know, I have published the only book on record about the legend of Sasquatch in Georgia, and that will most certainly explain why I was drawn to this tale.  As a matter of fact, as I pored over the table of contents in the book, I spotted that entry quite quickly, and I turned immediately to it and read it first. I won't spoil the story here, but I will definitely say it is one of the better ones in the book.  I must confess, I did not quite get to this account when writing Bigfoot in Georgia; however, Ms. Schlosser did, and she even read my book, as it was used as a source in her book.
I really enjoyed the book, especially since it was a Christmas gift from my dear mother, but there were a few things I feel the author missed.  One, she recounts the tale of "The Meanest Man in the South." This story is a very popular one in Georgia history and recounts the story of the Walker Family.  The tragedy centers on the death of the Walker son, Josiah.  However, the author, who makes sure she puts the name of the community from whence these legends arose on the opening page, credits this story with the city of Midgeville. As a native Georgian, having lived here all my life and written extensively about the state and its history, I would know if there was a place called Midgeville. To my knowledge, there is not.  In actuality, this legend stems from the antebellum capital of Georgia, Milledgeville.  Of course, this could easily be a typing error, but it appears over and over in the story. That weakens the book, in my opinion, as the city itself (Milledgeville) is not a city that lacks importance in the state and its history.
I really enjoyed the fact that many of the tales were told as they are related in legend.  This is specifically true in tales like "The Old House" from Cairo, and the aforementioned "On the Tracks."  I also admire that Schlosser traveled to places in Georgia, particularly Savannah and Atlanta, to personally research the state's folklore and legends.  Schlosser also seems to have immersed herself in the study of legend and lore for most of her life.  In addition to checking out this book, I would also encourage you to take a look at her website.  The link is below.
 http://www.americanfolklore.net/index.html

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Book Review: Legends, Lore and True Tales of the Chattahoochee by Michelle Smith

I realize I haven't posted much in 2013. Let me rephrase that. I haven't posted ANYTHING in 2013, but I am working on changing that this year.  Recently, I ran across a great book on Georgia legends, myth and folklore. The title was published by The History Press, and it is Legends, Lore and True Tales of the Chattahoochee.  Author Michelle Smith has done a fantastic job relating the plethora of legends associated with the Chattahoochee River that borders Georgia and Alabama.  In her book, she talks about Native American legend, folktales from local peoples, stories from history, and African American folklore stemming from the days of slavery.
Smith was educated at Auburn University, a fact I do not hold against her. (Dawg fan and alum here Michelle; you have to understand.) Her background is in the field of criminal justice. She is also an experienced historical and paranormal researcher who actually is involved with a paranormal research team near her home.  In addition to this title, it is my understanding that she has also assisted with other titles published about Alabama ghost stories.  The History Press has those titles as well.
So what makes the book a worthwhile read in my opinion?  First, it is definitely "right up my alley."  Any work on folklore and legend is worth my time reading it, particularly if it is about Georgia.  Second, it is chock full of legends and folktales I had never heard or seen anywhere.  While there are a few that I have seen here and there, most were new to me.  The story of Hugging Molly, the Wampus Cat, the Tie Snakes that are rumored to live in the Chattahoochee, and the Nunnehi, are all mystifying.  Third, Smith sprinkles bits and pieces of history in her story telling.  As I have always known and stated, good folklore stems from history, mostly local history, but history nonetheless.  Reading about legend and folklore never should leave you wanting for more local history, and Smith's recounting of the many legends and pieces of folklore from the Chattahoochee Valley certainly does not.
There are a few things that could have helped improve upon her work. There are a few places where her historical facts are either the result of typos or a confusion of dates.  For one, she mentions the federal government and their deal with the State of Georgia in 1763. I think that is supposed to be 1793 or possibly 1803.  There was no "federal government" or State of Georgia in 1763, as this was the end of the French and Indian War and a good 13 years away from the Declaration of Independence, an even longer 24 years until the Constitutional Convention that brought us the Constitution of the United States.  However, this is not an error that would derail the value of this work.  Still, I very much recommend selecting this one for your personal library.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Examiner.com Does Interview With Me about My Book Bigfoot in Georgia

Here is an interview that Jeffery Pritchett, who writes for Examiner.com, did with me concerning my book Bigfoot in Georgia.  It was published this morning on their website. I hope you enjoy.

http://www.examiner.com/article/jeffery-wells-on-bigfoot-georgia?cid=db_articles


Saturday, October 20, 2012

McDonough Haunted History Tours!

Don't forget that even though Bell, Book and Candle closed in downtown McDonough, there is a new used bookstore on the square. It is called Dawg-Eared Books, and they are doing the McDonough Haunted History Tour now.  There are a few more tours left for the season on the 20th, 27th, 31st, and November 3rd.  Call 770-957-1880 or go to www.mcdonoughtours.com for information.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Want to Ask a Favor

While I realize that this is not the typical article I would post on my blog of mysteries in Georgia, it does relate, and it was because of a book on Georgia mysteries that I even know anything about the situation.  Let me explain.
A few years ago, as I was shopping in a local bookstore in the Atlanta area, I happened upon a book entitled The Stately Ghosts of Augusta.  Author Scott A. Johnson did a swell job of discussing the many legends and lore about haunts in the Augusta, Georgia area. As many of you know, Augusta is Georgia's second oldest city, having been founded by the good General Oglethorpe himself in 1735 as a defense against the encroachments of the French and Spanish in to the Georgia interior, as well as a trading spot on the now famed Savannah River.  It is indeed, as alluded to in the title of Johnson's book, a stately place.  Most well-known as the home to the Masters golf tournament, academically, the city is also rich in educational history as the home of the largest medical college in the state (Georgia Health Sciences University which used to be the Medical College of Georgia). It is also home to Augusta State University, and one of the oldest HBCUs in the state, Paine College.  The city has a colorful history, and, as Johnson points out, is the source of a lot of stories of ghosts, haunts, and just plain out scary stuff!
It is about Johnson and his wife that I write this blog article today.  As much as I loved the book, I also loved finding out that Johnson is a prolific horror (fiction) writer as well.  He is also, like me, an educator. He teaches in the Masters of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing at Seton Hill University.  That's Seton Hill, not Seton Hall.  Nevertheless, the program is a top-notch one for writers in the genres of horror and science fiction.  His blog is located at www.americanhorrorwriter.blogspot.com.  I routinely click on his blogsite to see what he is working on as of late, and this month, I did the same thing and found that it was not a horror story that Scott has been working on, but a horror story that has been working on Scott and his wife, Tabby.  You see, Tabby is battling cancer, and it is really taking its toll on her and her family.  Scott, being the honorable gentleman that he is, stands by her side and suffers along with her.  Recently, he sought out a way to help his wife by using his talents as a writer.  Not long ago, Scott authored a short story collection called Droplets.  His publisher has graciously agreed to forgo any profits on this book and donate them all to Tabby's medical care. What a trooper!  His name is Owen at CLB Publications. I don't know him, and have never met him. However, I can tell you this; he is already one of my heroes. This is a prime example of how businessmen and women in our country can and do make a difference to their customers and clients.
So here is my request.  Please buy a copy of Johnson's book Droplets.  The profit will go to his wife's medical bills, and they are assuredly piling up, as is the case with most cancer patients and their healthcare. Scott writes that through all this, his wife Tabby has been an inspiration.  Well, I think she would agree that Scott and his publisher are as well.  So, even though I really don't know Scott that well, and am just a fan of his writings, I want to ask you to buy a copy of his book. Even if you do not read it, you could pass it along to someone who enjoys good horror and science fiction, donate it to a local library, or even donate it to a book sale for charity. But upon my recommendation, you really should look it over. It has some great stories in it!!!  Here is a link to the Amazon.com webpage where you can get your copy.  I believe the Kindle edition is also part of this, and the profits from those are being donated as well.
                                       Droplets, courtesy of www.americanhorrorwriter.net:

Here is a link to the Amazon.com webpage where you can get your copy.  I believe the Kindle edition is also part of this, and the profits from those are being donated as well. 
http://www.amazon.com/Droplets-A-Short-Story-Collection/dp/0615620965/ref=as_li_wdgt_ex?&linkCode=wey&tag=americanhorro-20
In case you are interested, his book The Stately Ghosts of Augusta is a fine read as well. Pictured above is the cover of that book, and the photo is courtesy of Scott Johnson's blogsite I listed above.

This is a great way to help someone who needs help fighting a monster, as well as get a great book to read, and scare the heck out of you.  Please do what you can.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Camp Creek Train Crash Memorial Week; Books Signings, and A Play Based on My Book

This week marks the first ever celebration and memorial of the lives, heroes, and story of the 1900 Camp Creek Train Crash in McDonough, Georgia.  In 2009, The History Press offered me the opportunity to write about the train crash and published my book In Atlanta or in Hell: The Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900.  This week, here in the city, the City of McDonough, the McDonough Main Street Program, and former city councilwoman Sandra Vincent are spearheading a week-long series of events to commemorate this part of our local history and to honor those heroes of the crash.  Here is the list of events, some of which have already taken place:
*Opening Reception and Book Signing at Bell, Book and Candle-Saturday, June 16th
*Performance of Old No.7-a play based on my book In Atlanta or in Hell...Tuesday, June 19th
*Quinlan's Run-A 2 mile walk/run that follows the same route J.J. Quinlan ran on that fateful night to get help and waive off oncoming trains-Saturday, June 23rd at 7:00 a.m.
*Model Train Museum -The Middle Georgia Model Train club will have their display in the Chafin Bldg. in downtown McDonough from 9-5 with a replica of the engine that crashed on display all day-Sat. June 23rd
*Book signing for In Atlanta or in Hell: The Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900 at the Chafin Bldg. at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.  Local Civil War Historian Mark Pollard and I will speak about the crash and local history
*Candlelight and Memorial Service at Alexander Park to honor those lost in the crash-Saturday, June 23rd at 8:00 p.m.

I am very proud of the City of McDonough for taking the initiative on these things.  The memorial service and events are long overdue.  As some of you know, the dead from this wreck were brought back to McDonough for burial preparation and transport.  Because there were so many of them, their bodies were laid out on the square until the two funeral homes here in town could get to them. Many say this is what has contributed to the many paranormal activities in the downtown square.


The Dutchtown High School Theater Department wrote and performed a musical based on my book, In Atlanta or in Hell: The Camp Creek Train Crash of 1900. The presentation of the play was at the Henry County Performing Arts Center Tuesday evening. I was amazed at their talent and hard work. It was a humbling experience seeing a play based on my work.  I met many of the cast afterwards and was able to sign personalized copies of the book for them. Here are some photos from the event taken by Erica Barnham of Bell,Book and Candle, the independent bookstore in McDonough who sponsored the book signing.

Caprice Walker of Bell, Book and Candle and I at the book signing
                                                           A scene from Old No. 7 
Me with the young actresses who portrayed the Woman in Red and Miss Merritt from the crash

I am looking forward to the walk/run on Saturday. Yes, I will be out there huffing along with the rest of the crowd.  I have been walking two miles several times a week here lately, so I should be able to hold up okay.  I am also looking forward to the model train museum and memorial service later this week. If you have not read about the crash and its impact on the area, check out my book or go online and do a bit of research. This happened on June 23, 1900.  It was the worst train crash in Georgia history, and of the 39 victims, quite a few were railroad employees headed home to Atlanta to see their families.  You can also check out my blog post from a few years ago about how this event has inspired quite a few legends about hauntings and paranormal activity on the square.