There is a saying that was mentioned in an interview about Feng Shui and architecture in China, which states “If a person does not believe in ancient philosophies, it does not necessarily mean that it exists.” It is hard to believe the notion that no spirits and ghosts exist in any of the buildings and bridges in general. However, if there was such a notion, then there would not be any stories by people who have encountered them in the first place. There have been many reports of ghosts and evil spirits lurking about in haunted buildings, cemeteries and even bridges. Even if no accounts were recorded, some of the bridges, given its location in deep forests and houses that are run down and mostly uninhabited, are considered haunted in itself and should be approached with care. I myself have seen many haunted bridges in my lifetime, but examples will be kept aside for another time, except for one……
The Enoch’s Knob Bridge in Franklin County, Missouri is perhaps one of the most haunted historic bridges ever visited, regardless if you visit it in the day time or at night. Looking at the bridge from the outside, it is plainly a typical Parker through truss bridge with pin connections, A-frame portal bracings and a length of 185 feet long. The only special feature was the fact that it was constructed in 1908 by the Missouri Bridge and Iron Company in St. Louis. Yet despite the factual information that is accessible via bridge websites, when looking at where the bridge is located- in a remote setting on a gravel road many miles from a nearby highway or town in a thick forest covering Boeuf Creek- it gives a person an eery feeling when approaching and crossing this structure.
In fact, there are many stories that were told of encounters with ghost dogs, demon dogs with green eyes and three legs, trolls in the forest, (ghosts of) teens hanging themselves, people committing suicide by jumping off the bridge, and spirits disabling electronic devices and even automobiles when on the bridge. In one case, a sheriff’s deputy driving over the bridge noticed as he approached the span that the engine of the car and all electronic devices except the radio shut down, allowing the car to coast across the structure before it restarted after getting off. Spooked by this experience, he never approached the bridge again except for emergency calls.
There were two confirmed reports of deaths which contributed to the bridge being haunted. The first involved Patrick Kinneson, who fell 37 feet to his death while at a party on the evening of the 23rd of August, 1987. He was trying to help a friend, whose car was stuck in the mud at a corn field and had climbed the girders of the bridge when he fell without notice. His body was found later that night and the death was ruled accidental. The other death involved Stephen Cooksey, who sustained multiple shots during a drug transaction and managed to pull himself under his vehicle, only for the people responsible for the shooting to burn his car and the body with it. The incident happened at a parking lot next to the bridge on 9 May 2005. Yet many accounts involving close encounters with the paranormal at the bridge revealed that the spirits that exist at the bridge are more in connection with the first tragedy, although research has revealed lynchings that took place in the late 1800s at the site prior to the erection of the truss structure.
Upon my visit to the bridge in August 2011 as part of the Historic Bridge weekend in Missouri, my first impression when approaching the bridge was that it did present an eery sensation. The bridge had been closed to traffic for structural concerns in late 2010 and was barricaded a mile away from the bridge itself, making a trek a rather long one. With each step closer to the bridge it became spookier and rather unsafe. While the trip was in the afternoon sunlight with little breeze, the encounter with the bridge reminded me of a trip to the former railroad bridge spanning the Rock River west of Rock Valley, Iowa in March 1998, even though it had long since been incorporated into a bike trail. Once approaching the bridge, everything was silent as if it was in the film “The Langoleers.” Had it not been for the company of Julie Bowers, who was also looking at the bridge and making estimates for a group wanting to save the bridge, I would have witnessed a deathly silence that can only be related to an evil spirit lurking about day and night. After all, the devil never sleeps at the bridge and one should never walk to the bridge alone unless with some company. While the cameras of the investigators, ghost hunters, and even the curious ones were bewitched with each visit, during my visit, and that of the fellow pontists who visited the bridge that day, there were no problems, and as you can see in the pics at the end of the article, the bridge and its scenery and unusual serenity warranted numerous pics from various angles.
Despite all this, the days of the bridge are more or less numbered. Plans have been approved recently to bring down the bridge, taking with it all the stories and history associated with the structure. A bland concrete slap bridge will take its place. Efforts were made back in 2011 to save the bridge, and there was even a social network bearing the name, which garnered support. Yet despite all this, it did not sway the local government officials, who wanted the devil’s bridge gone for good while discouraging teens from partying at the site. Also, according to anonymous sources, the interest in preserving the bridge was low, compared to other bridges that have received more attention, like the Riverside Bridge in Ozark or the Long Shoals in Bourbon County, Kansas. Yet perhaps before the demolition, the bridge will have its last laugh, as demolition crews may experience technical failures in the machines that will be in place to dismantle the structure. Many workers may end up walking off the job, spooked by the spirits that still haunt the bridge. Sometimes, demolishing historic structures can raise the spirits that curse the machines and the workers wanting to destroy history. This happened to a demolition crew tearing down the former Middle School building in Jackson, Minnesota in January 2011, as one of the excavators was knocked over on its side for unknown reasons. Speculation was that the spirits that walked the halls of the school (which was for a time part of the high school complex before the new building was open in 1982). In either case, the bridge replacement will not affect the stories and spirits that will remain at the site, even after the truss bridge is gone.It is just that the bridge will not go down without a fight, be it by preservationists or by the spirits that still occupy the structure and will until its ultimate end and beyond.
It is unknown whether the demolition process has begun or not. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest on the Enochs Knob Bridge. In the meantime, enjoy the photos and video clip of the bridge, both were taken by the author in August 2011:
Source: Terry, Dan. “Beyond the Shadows: Exploring the Ghosts of Franklin County.” Stanton, MO: Missouri Kid Press, 2007
Photos of the Bridge can be found via flickr by clicking here.
Author’s Note: The truss bridge was torn down in 2013, two years after my visit. Still the area is haunted as there have been stories of encounters near the new structure
All photos were taken in 2011 except for the graphic which is courtesy of Molly Hill.