From Anderson, South Carolina to Monmouth, Illinois, crybaby bridges across America are said to be haunted by the newborns who were supposedly murdered there.
In rural areas across the United States, spooky sites known as “crybaby bridges” draw curious locals and countless tourists fascinated by the supernatural.
Named for the local legends of ghostly cries supposedly heard near the bridge, these sites are said to be haunted by the spirits of babies whose mothers tossed them off the bridge or else drowned them in the waters below. Today, it is said that travelers crossing a crybaby bridge at night can still hear the wails of the traumatized child.
But what spawned these legends? And how much truth is there to them, really?
Here’s everything you need to know about crybaby bridges and the chilling stories surrounding them.
The Weeping Waters Of A Crybaby Bridge
There are dozens of crybaby bridges across the United States. Some — like Sleepy Hollow Road in Kentucky, Rogues Hollow in Ohio, and the Helltown crybaby bridge in Ohio — really deliver on the name front. And while each has its own specific local lore, there are often similarities between the tales.
A crybaby bridge legend typically consists of three key ingredients: a historical bridge over a river or creek, a baby, and someone — usually the baby’s mother — responsible for that baby’s demise.
In most stories, the mother, in some state of distress, decides to throw her baby from the bridge, either because the child is unwanted or deformed or because she’s unable to care for it. Locals claim you can still hear the baby’s cries at night to this day, and according to some stories, you can also hear the distraught mother crying out in agony as she looks for her lost child.
One textbook example of a crybaby bridge legend is the one surrounding the Van Sant bridge in New Hope, Pennsylvania. The story goes that a woman became pregnant out of wedlock and was disowned by her family. As Atlas Obscura reports, the mother was supposedly so distraught that she flung her child off of the bridge — and then hung herself from its rafters.
Debunking The Legend Of Monmouth, Illinois’ Haunted Bridge
One of the most infamous crybaby bridges sits in Monmouth, Illinois. The original bridge, which reportedly was made of wood, stood for about 75 years before being moved from its original location in the 1930s.
Today, the new single-lane bridge is made of steel and stands above Cedar Creek, about four miles outside of Monmouth. But even after this location change, local youth have kept the crybaby legend alive.
According to one legend, radio station Q985 reports, a flood caused an elementary school bus to careen off the side of the bridge, drowning every last child on board.
To this day, it’s said that if someone puts their car in neutral while driving across the bridge at night and it veers toward the edge, the ghostly hands of those children will push the car back to safety. Legend also says that if you sprinkle baby powder on your rear bumper, you’ll be able to see the children’s fingerprints.
Paranormal investigator Barb Huyser began investigating the Monmouth crybaby bridge legends in 2001. The Review Atlas reports that Huyser interviewed senior citizens about their memories of the bridge, and also debunked the theory about ghost children pushing the car, explaining that the sensation of being pushed is caused by a slight incline on the bridge.
“This is an optical illusion effect due to the way the ground is at the end of the bridge. Although it does not look like it, there is a slight incline,” Huyser said. And the handprints sometimes seen on the car afterward, she explained, are not the imprints left by ghosts but by humans, caused by the oils people left behind after touching the car.
Huyser found no evidence of a haunting at the steel crybaby bridge, and in late 2021 the bridge reportedly closed permanently due to concerns over the safety of the bridge’s structure.
But because the location of the original wooden crybaby bridge was lost to history, she was unable to conduct paranormal experiments there, technically leaving open the possibility that that site may be haunted.
“Monmouth is an old town, so there are ghosts here,” Huyser said.
The Many Crybaby Bridges Of Ohio
For whatever reason, the state of Ohio appears to be a particular crybaby bridge hotbed, boasting several of these legends in towns across the state.
Perhaps the most infamous of these is located off Egypt Road in Salem, Ohio. As in other crybaby bridge legends, one version of the story says a young woman became pregnant out of wedlock and tossed her unwanted child over the bridge after her family disowned her.
According to WFMJ, another legend says that a toddler once wandered into the water below the bridge and drowned as its distracted parents argued, and today some claim to have seen the ghostly figure of the father lurking near the site, still looking for his child.
These spooky stories have been bolstered by rumors of cult activity in the area surrounding the bridge. In 2010, WFMJ reports, a 60-year-old woman was strangled to death and left near the bridge, her body covered in burns.
Today, locals looking for a good scare visit the bridge, and they say that if you park your car there and shine your headlights right at midnight, a ghostly mist will rise up from the water towards you. Others say that if you cross the bridge and keep following the road, you will simply vanish.
Elsewhere in Ohio, on Maud Hughes Road in Liberty Township, another crybaby bridge sits above train tracks, and at least 36 people are reported to have been found dead there, according to Creepy Cincinnati, whether by suicide or tragic accidents.
These reports have perhaps influenced the spread of urban legends about the Maud Hughes Road crybaby bridge. In one story, a woman fell to her death after jumping from the bridge to escape pursuers. Another legend says a couple drove onto the bridge and got stuck. The man left to look for help — only to return to find his girlfriend hanging from the bridge.
Today, visitors to this site claim to have heard chilling screams or seen mist, floating orbs, or ghostly figures near the bridge.
Eerie Legends Of Haunted Bridges Across Texas
Texas, too, is home to a number of crybaby bridge legends. Lore about one bridge just outside of De Kalb says a mother once dove her car off of the bridge into the creek, causing her baby to plunge into the water and drown.
Lufkin has a similar story, and according to Texas Escapes, one visitor who drove through the bridge claimed to have found a baby’s handprint on her car window afterward.
Then there’s the “Sarah Jane Bridge” in Port Neches, Texas, which is supposedly named for a murder there.
The story goes that a man murdered a woman, then threw the infant into the alligator-infested waters below. In some stories, the baby was named Sarah Jane, and the ghost of a woman still searches for her child, calling out to “Sarah Jane.” And in others, the mother herself is Sarah Jane.
In reality, according to the Midcounty Chronicle, the bridge was named after Sarah Jane Sweeney Block, who died at the age of 99 and whose children survived into adulthood.
The Spooky History Of The Bowie Crybaby Bridge
In 1984, a crybaby bridge in Bowie, Maryland drew the attention of The Washington Post for a chilling reason.
Over a ten-year period dating back to 1974, a dirt lane off of Lottsford Road leading down to the crybaby bridge developed a reputation as a popular dumping ground for dead bodies. During that time, at least five bodies turned up on the road, though locals say the number was closer to 14, and another victim was reportedly killed there but left elsewhere.
“Every time they’d turn around, they were finding either a prostitute from the District or a dope dealer from downtown,” a local police chief recalled from his days as a county officer in the early 1970s. Meanwhile, many of the dozen or so local families near the bridge said they refused to drive there after dark.
“I guess that’s about the lonesomest road there is,” said a 64-year-old farmer who lived nearby — and who once found a body dumped on his driveway. “That’s close enough for me.”
Over the years, perhaps because of the site’s reputation as a “dumping ground,” the bridge has remained the center of a number of folk legends. Some say the bridge is haunted by the Goatman, a bloodthirsty half-man, half-goat monster long rumored to roam the area, looking for his next victim.
Others say the bridge is haunted by the ghosts of babies who died there. A booklet of county lore published in 1984 by students at Queen Anne School, an Episcopal academy near Lottsford Road, recognized the tale of the crybaby bridge:
“When you drive over this bridge on a cloudy night when there are no stars shining, you can hear the crying of a baby.”
Whether or not these tales have any foundation in reality, to visit a crybaby bridge is to go down roads less traveled. Real or not, haunted or imaginary, dare you cross one at night?
Because if you go down to the woods tonight, you may be in for a scare.
After learning about Crybaby Bridges, read about the terrifying legends behind the Goatman’s Bridge in rural Texas. Then, learn about the eerie mystery of Overtoun Bridge, Scotland’s infamous dog suicide hotspot.