Bridging the Barriers
Traditionally, and for centuries, within the folklore, mythology and legends of countless cultures, bridges have been associated with a wide array of paranormal phenomena, including strange beasts, UFOs, and spectral entities. Of course, the big question is: Why? The answers are as strange as they are intriguing.
One of the most macabre bridge encounters of a paranormal kind occurred in Shropshire, England, in January 1879. It was a cold and moonlit night when a workman was traveling home, his tiring day finally over. As he reached a halfway-point on Bridge 39 that spans the Shropshire Union Canal, a diabolical, hairy man-beast leaped out of the trees and jumped atop the cart, which, not surprisingly sent the horse into a frenzy.
The beast, said the man, resembled a large, hairy monkey, and sported a pair of glowing eyes. In other words, it wasn’t a local! Incredibly, as the witness attempted to strike the beast with his whip, it passed through its body, suggesting that whatever the nature of the monstrous form, it was hardly flesh-and-blood. Seconds later, the “animal” bounded off into the darkness and was gone. Thus was born the legend of the Man-Monkey – a creature that still haunts Bridge 39 to this day.
Nearly a century later, strange things were afoot at England’s Montford Bridge - a bridge constructed in the early 1790s, and which is located in a village of the same name. Declassified British Ministry of Defense files reveal that, in both 1964 and 1966, a young woman named Diane Foulkes had undergone a series of traumatic UFO encounters at the bridge – encounters that adversely affected the engine and headlights of her car, made her feel “very ill” and “extremely frightened,” and gave every indication that alien entities were secretly lurking around the old bridge.
Notably, one extract from the Ministry of Defense’s official report on the affair says: ”Miss Foulkes further stated that she believed that the objects could be associated with a Mr. Griffin who lived in the area and who is reputed to have made contact with these objects and actually entered one and met one of the occupants. He is also alleged to make his contacts with them at Montford Bridge.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic…
There can be very few people who have not heard of Mothman – a creature that haunted the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, between November 1966 and December 1967. A winged-monster, Mothman came hurtling out of nowhere. And, some say, its presence culminated in high tragedy. On December 15, 1967, Point Pleasant’s Silver Bridge, that spanned the Ohio River and connected Point Pleasant to Gallipolis, Ohio, collapsed into the river, claiming forty-six lives.
After the disaster at the bridge, encounters with Mothman largely came to a halt. While a down-to-earth explanation for the bridge circulated – that a flaw in a single eye-bar in a suspension chain was the culprit – many saw the cause of the disaster as being connected to the dark presence of Mothman.
Moving on to Texas, there is the tale of the diabolical Goat-Man that haunts the Old Alton Bridge in the town of Denton. One legend says that, many years ago, wannabe devil-worshipers in the area inadvertently opened up a portal to some hellish realm that allowed the vile beast access to our world. And now, today, and as a direct result of this reckless action, the Goat-Man has no intention of returning to the twilight zone from which he surfaced; hence his deep desire to forever haunt Denton’s steel-and-wood bridge.
So, what’s going on? Is it merely down to chance and coincidence that bridges seem to play integral roles in Fortean encounters? Almost certainly not. It’s at this point we have to turn our attention to what have become known as Liminal Zones. In her 2006 book, Mystery Big Cats, author Merrily Harpur writes of these mysterious locales: “These are the transitional zones between one area and another – the kind of no-man’s-land traditionally regarded as magical.”
Harpur notes that such zones include streams, gates, churchyards and…bridges.
Are some of the ancient, historical bridges that pepper our world really acting as portals and doorways, through which a collective multitude of paranormal phenomena is entering our realm of existence? It’s a question you would be wise to keep in mind the next time you find yourself crossing a darkened old bridge, late one stormy night…