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Mysterious America

The Terrifying Truth Behind Crawford Road Bridge

The sinister reputation of haunted places are often unearned, but in the case of this remote Virginia bridge, the truth is more horrifying than fiction.

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A remote road in Virginia’s Historic Triangle holds secrets, or at least that’s what storytellers say. Otherworldly phenomena is responsible for events ranging from electronic disturbances to car accidents, and real-life murders have darkened the spot’s already sinister reputation. “Bad vibes” and “negative energy” make some locals steer clear.

This object of morbid fascination is a concrete bridge, built in the 1930s, where Tour Road passes over Crawford Road in the woods north of Newport News Park, south of the Yorktown Battlefield where George Washington defeated Lord Cornwallis in 1781. Crawford Road bypasses Yorktown Road between I-64 and US Route 17, but there’s not much to see aside from occasional wildlife. This remote patch of wilderness lends itself to unusual stories.

The most popular legend involves a young bride forced into a loveless marriage. Rather than spend the rest of her life with a man she loathes, the woman hanged herself from the Tour Road overpass. Since then, a ghostly woman in white can be seen standing on the bridge, only to reenact her sickening plunge. Cars swerve to avoid a lone specter in the road, or experience engine trouble while driving through the narrow tunnel.

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Mysterious America

Beware the Ax-Wielding Bunny Man of Fairfax County

For decades, storytellers have claimed an ax-wielding “Bunny Man” has terrorized northern Virginia, but the truth might be stranger than fiction.

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The year was 1904. A bus carrying inmates from the county asylum swerved along darkened country back roads towards Lorton Prison. One of the buses took a sharp turn and crashed in a particularly remote area, killing all but ten patients. Most were recaptured, except for Douglas J. Grifon, convicted of murdering his family on Easter. Since then, the carcasses of helpless teenagers and bunnies alike have been found hanging from a nearby bridge, slain at the hands of a deranged man wearing a rabbit-eared costume.

This ax-wielding bunnyman has reportedly appeared to startled onlookers as far away as Maryland, Washington, DC, and Culpepper, Virginia, but if he has a home, it’s in rural Fairfax County, Virginia near an old railroad bridge over Colchester Road. The bridge, variously known as Fairfax Station Bridge or Colchester Overpass, has become known as “Bunny Man Bridge” in popular imagination. It’s even labeled as such on Google Maps.

A remote, creepy bridge used during the 1950s and ’60s as a make out spot is like a magnet for urban legends and folklore, and Bunny Man Bridge is no exception. Though variations of common legends have taken root here, Bunny Man Bridge is unique in that at least part of the legend is based on real events.

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Historic America

Philippi: First Organized ‘Battle’ of the Civil War

A historic covered bridge, used as a barracks for Union troops, still stands at the scene of an early Civil War skirmish.

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The Battle of Philippi was fought on June 3, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Morris and Confederate forces commanded by Col. George A. Porterfield in Philippi, West Virginia during the American Civil War. The skirmish, which was the first in Virginia, was a Union victory that encouraged Western Virginians to secede and form their own pro-Union state. It resulted in 30 total casualties.

By the time Virginia voters ratified the decision of its secession convention on May 23, 1861, Richmond had already been proclaimed the Confederate capital and militia units were mobilizing. As commander of the Department of the Ohio, Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan invaded western Virginia under the pretext of protecting unionists there. Western counties would later vote to secede from Virginia and form the state of West Virginia.

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Historic America Photography

Cochecton Damascus Bridge

Cochecton Damascus Bridge
Cochecton is a town Sullivan County, New York, along the Delaware River at the Pennsylvania border. It is part of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River area, which is managed by the National Park Service. The steel and concrete Cochecton Damascus Bridge, built in 1950 and opened two years later, spans the Delaware River, allowing traffic to flow freely between New York and Pennsylvania. It’s an impressive structure for such a cloistered part of the country, stretching 208 meters.
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Historic America

Battle of Scajaquada Creek Bridge

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A detachment of American riflemen turn back the last British attack on Buffalo is this little-known War of 1812 skirmish.

The Battle of Scajaquada Creek Bridge (also known as Conjockety Creek) was fought on August 3, 1814 between British forces commanded by Lt. Col. John Tucker and American forces commanded by Major Ludowick Morgan in modern-day Buffalo, New York during the War of 1812. The battle was an American victory, ending British raids over the Niagara River and saving the American soldiers holed up in Fort Erie.

After the bloody Battle of Lundy’s Lane on July 25, 1814 on the western shore of the Niagara River, the American Army withdrew to recently-captured Fort Erie to lick its wounds. The British, under the command of Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond, pursued and laid siege to the fort. The Americans received supplies from Black Rock and Buffalo by boat, so Lt. Gen. Drummond ordered Lt. Col. John “Brigadier Shindy” Tucker to take 600 men, raid the villages, and burn military supplies, as the British had successfully done in December 1813.

To reach those military store houses, Tucker had to cross the Niagara River and Unity Island, then Conjockety Creek. Scouts warned Major Ludowick Morgan of the British approach, and he ordered his men to tear up planks on the Conjockety Creek bridge. His 240 militiamen found cover on the southern shore and waited for the British to appear. The British, armed with smoothbore muskets, were no match for the American riflemen.

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Mysterious America

Axeman’s Bridge in Crete, Illinois

There is nothing peculiar about the concrete bridge along Old Post Road two miles east of Crete, Illinois. If a motorist were to drive past, over the trickling waters of Plum Creek on a pleasant summer day, not much would alert this passerby to the Axeman’s gruesome story.

In the woods a few yards to the northeast, however, sits a rickety steel bridge, collapsed into the water. It is tagged with graffiti. For years, local teens imagined this was the scene of a gruesome ax murder. The remains of a home hidden in the trees and the closure of the road leading to the steel bridge have only fueled the legend.

Although landmarks set the stage for this story, the exact history of the area is difficult to determine. According to John Drury’s photographic history, This is Will County, Illinois (1955), David Harner was the first white settler of Crete Township, and a large contingent of ethnic Germans followed.

Early in Will County history, the thick timberland along Plum Creek was called Beebe’s Grove. It was named after Minoris Beebe, who arrived in 1834 along with David Harner. According to an old county plat map, a man named William Vocke owned the property around Axeman’s Bridge in 1909. I have been unable to determine when this bridge closed.

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Mysterious America

Lebanon Road and the Seven Gates to Hell

Seven graffiti-covered railroad bridges appear along this stretch of rural road outside Collinsville, Illinois. Locals have crafted a hellish tale around these bridges, which they dubbed the “Seven Gates to Hell.”

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Late night drives are a time-honored teenage pastime, and many communities throughout Illinois have legendary roads that offer more thrills than most. A confusing stretch of rural road outside Collinsville, Illinois is one of the more interesting. Along these roads are seven railroad bridges, some no longer in use. All of them are heavily coated in graffiti—a testament to their popularity for nighttime excursions.

Local visitors have crafted a hellish tale around these seven bridges, which they dubbed the “Seven Gates to Hell.” According to Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk’s Illinois Road Guide to Haunted Locations (2007), these stories have been circulating in the area for at least 40 years.

The legend is that if someone were to drive through all seven bridges and enter the last one exactly at midnight, he or she would be transported to Hell. In some versions, the person entering the final tunnel must be a skeptic. In other versions, no tunnel can be driven through twice for the magic to work.