As Told by Chris Woodyard, and countless others
who have e-mailed this particular tale to me.
This has to be one of the most popular tales in the entire state. I have been bombarded by individuals telling or asking about this particular tale. (And the Gore Orphanage in Vermilian, Ohio. Coming soon I promise!) So here it is at last.
I had a friend who would always yell “Speed on Moron, Hells only half full” at motorists passing him by at a high rate of speed. The ghostly rider of Elmore, Ohio has it seems chosen to defy my friends logic, that all speeders that meet their untimely deaths on Ohio’s highways go to Hell. He has in fact chosen to go to neither Heaven or Hell, but instead remain here on Earth with the rest of us mortals.
It seems in life this man answered his country’s call and bravely went off to fight the Germans in Europe in the raging conflict which is known as “The Great War”. This would be World War I for those not familiar with the era. He returned from Europe at the end of the fighting in 1918. Being discharged from his unit he returned home to pick up his life where he left it off like so many others. Of course the first order of business was to rekindle his romance with a lady friend whom he had left behind. Deciding to surprise her, he jumped on his powerful V-twin powered motorcycle that was one of his favorite pastimes before the war. Many hours had been spent riding the backroads of the surrounding country side. Roaring down roads that were as familiar to him as his own backyard, he thought of the warm embrace and slow long kisses that awaited him at the end of his late night ride. He remembered her smell like that of fresh lilacs, her smile, and her beautiful blue eyes that could drain a man of his soul. He thought of the night they had parted and said goodbye, the tears streaming down her face as she promised she would have no other, and would wait for him to return. Friends and relatives had made weak attempts to tell him that people change, but he would hear none of it. She had promised. She would be there waiting, sitting in her rocking chair waiting for his return. They would marry as planed, and he would take her away from the family farm no matter how much her father complained.
Finally the lane leading to the farm house hove into view. He killed the engine of the motorcycle and allowed it to coast to the edge of the gravel lane. He then quietly pushed the motorcycle up the moonlit roadway. Nothing was going to spoil his surprise. As he neared the house he could see her through the window which was in the kitchen. Approaching the door to the kitchen he could see her standing at the table peeling potatoes. Moving with stealth he crept into the kitchen right behind her. Then he wrapped his strong arms around her and pulled her close to him. Instead of the pleasant gasp of surprise, and then warm embrace he envisioned on his night time ride, he was rewarded with a ear splitting scream. She jerked away and turned around to face him. Recognition flooded into her eyes, now the kisses and hugs he desired would come, he had just startled her that was all. With tears streaming down her face she slowly raised her left hand. There on her fourth finger shone the brilliant gleam of a gold wedding band. Staring in disbelief, joy was replaced with rage and anger, he had been betrayed. The blood rushed up to his watering eyes. Twisting away from her still tearing eyes he fled back into the night. His rage built as he found the motorcycle where he had left it in the darkened lane. Furiously he kicked life into the powerful machine. The roar of the engine echoed it’s owners rage. Rocks flew as the clutch engaged the rear tire. With reckless abandon he hurtled the bike down the gravel lane. Reaching the end of the lane he ripped onto the main dirt road and gave the machine full throttle. Tears filled his eyes as rage gave way to pain and anguish, but still he speed on to the waiting bridge ahead. Hitting the bridge the motorcycle bucked and heaved at it’s owners refusal to let off the throttle. Tear blinded and traveling a such a high rate of speed, finally the laws of physics and averages took over, and the motorcycle plunged off the road. The last thing his living eyes beheld was the barbed wire fence closing at break neck speed in the jiggling headlights beam……………..then oblivion.
The legend goes that if you go to the bridge on the anniversary that this poor soul found his death on (March 21st), then blink your lights three time and honk your horn three times, the ghost of the betrayed lover will repeat his deathly ride across the bridge.
On March 21st, 1968 folklorist Richard Gill went to the site to investigate the legend. He went with a friend and was armed with a host of cameras and tape recorders. Sure enough when they blinked their cars lights and blew the horn, a ghostly light appeared up the lane at the farm house and came down the lane onto the road and disappeared in the middle of the bridge. The two men then tied a string across the bridge. They repeated the required blinks and horn soundings. Once again the ghostly light appeared and made it’s journey down the lane and road to disappear in the middle of the bridge. Investigating they found the string was still intact. For the next run the friend decided to stand in the middle of the bridge. (What a brave soul!) Gill let go with the lights and horn again. The light just as before came down the lane and onto the road to disappear in the same spot on the bridge. Gill waited for a few minutes, but his friend never appeared. He found him in a ditch on the side of the road unconscious and looking like he had been just run over. This would have been enough for me at this point, but these two just had to have one more go at it. This time they parked to the side of the bridge and stayed in the car. Three blinks and three honks latter, here came the light. They began to move down the bridge, the light caught and passed them to disappear in the same spot. The friend wanted to stay and do some more tests, but Gill drove on proclaiming that he was a believer in ghosts. You would think the friend who got mowed down by a ghost on a motorcycle who be the first to announce that he was a believer! (I guess there is just no convincing some people.) The movie film shot showed nothing at all. Still photography turned out some of those familiar glowing blobs that are normally found in ghost pictures. The audio tape had a peculiar buzzing sound on it.
The location of this haunting is of course near Elmore, Ohio in Ottawa County. The bridge where the ghost is suppose appears is across the middle branch of the Portage River east of Elmore. I would strongly suggest not standing in the middle of the bridge!
Ryck Zarick and Joe Thielen have graciously provided not only the photos above [missing] but the follwing links and directions to the bridge.
Here is the address for a topographic map showing the bridge:
Notice that there are four map scales and three map screen sizes available.
Here is an aerial picture of it (look for dark spot on road and creek at bottom of picture:)
Zoom out to get a better idea of where it is located.
The GPS coordinates for online maps places the bridge at Latitude 41.4228, Longitude -83.2018. (Online maps use NAD27 Datum, and GPS devices use WGS84 Datum. However these coordinates will place you near the bridge regardless of the GPS Datum setting.)
Here is the most detailed description that I could come up with. This bridge is over Muddy Creek (one of several “Muddy Creeks” in the area) in Ottawa County on the boundary of Washington Township Sections 1 and 2, on Fought Road, one half a mile south of the Ohio Turnpike I-80/90, one mile east of Lindsey Ohio, and six miles southeast of Elmore Ohio.
Joe describes this bridge as being in a valley where fog can obscure the bridge at eye level, making the area very eerie. He said that the pictures do not do it justice.
This post, including photos and commentary, originally appeared on James A. Sheets’ site.