Local Haunts: Lydia’s Bridge

Dec 19th, 2011 | By | Category: Entertainment, Misc, Sights

I’m rehearsing a show, Dead, and we were performing an acting exercise in the graveyard. Welcome to the world of theater, where nothing is too weird. No need for specifics, just six people amongst the tired resting souls of Greensboro. Walking through the rich history and crunching the leaves underfoot. While most people cringe at the thought of hanging out with a bunch of stiffs, pun intended, I actually enjoy it.

I enjoy it so much that I have been known to sneak into haunted places after dark.  No, I am not talking about breaking and entering, although I have stepped over a low gate or two.  I find out where haunted places are and I like to take friends at dusk to see them.  One of my favorite spots is not too far, in Jamestown, NC.  The landmark is covered in Kudzu from lack of use, but college students flock to it for a cheap thrill.

If you find yourself driving down 70 towards High Point you will notice the road has been straightened, as of 1969, due to several accidents that happened in its earlier days.  Off to one side is the original road; there is a bridge that trains still use, known locally as Lydia’s bridge.

In early 1924 a man was driving home along the road alone. As he approached the underpass he saw a young woman by the side of the road, waving for a ride.  He pulled over and invited her into the car.  She sat down and told him she was on her way back from a dance in Raleigh and she lived just in High Point, not too far out of his way.  He agreed to take her home.  The ride was quiet.  The more he tried to coax her with conversation the quieter she became.  She directed him to a very specific house.  He got out of the car and opened the passenger side door for his poor weary passenger, only to discover, to his horror, that she had vanished.  This was only the first of many occurrences since then.

According to medical records, Lydia died December 31, 1923 but no one says how.  Some say there was a fight with her boyfriend and, in a cruel act, he left her by the side of the road to hitchhike home, where she was struck by a car.  Others say she and her boyfriend wrecked on the curvy wet December roads.  She survived the wreck and ran up to the road to get help, where she died from her injuries as she tried to flag down anyone who would stop.  No matter her cause of death, she never made it home from that fateful dance in Raleigh.

Since then folks have seen a young girl in a white dress standing by the side of the road.  She’ll flag you down late at night desperate for a ride home.  Make sure you pull over and give her a lift. Ignore her and she’ll find her way into your back seat. Several folks who have passed Lydia in the night have noticed a ghostly image in the mirror, and turned around just to see Lydia sitting, quite comfortably, in their back seat.  They have just enough time to recognize the ghostly image when she vanishes.

Look in the back seat, do you see the passenger?

Everyone has heard this story somewhere or another and occasionally with more embellishment.  In one version the driver actually takes Lydia to her dance and drives her back home.  She gets out and walks to her front door.  As he watches her go in he notices the scarf (or sweater) she had been wearing is on his front seat and he goes to her door. He knocks politely and an elderly woman, Lydia’s mother, comes to the front door.  He offers her the lost item and the woman immediately breaks down crying. He’s confused. What is wrong?  The old woman, seeing his confusing tells him, “that was what she was wearing the day she died. What’s worse, she was buried in it.”  There are also stories of a father answering the door and telling the poor driver that he’s not the first and won’t be the last.  It is molded differently to every telling, and the story gets spookier the more it’s told.

Death has never bothered me and the concept of what happens after, beyond the biological, is cause enough for inquiry. Many people appreciate the tradition of ghost stories year round. I don’t just mean bad reality TV shows where seemingly hardcore people go into a “haunted” place and freak out at every speck of dust that creeps across the camera lens. There is a wonderful group of people who curl up with a book of haunted tales to get a little chill thinking of the tales that began locally.

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