Search Area: Flat Creek, SC: The Real Crybaby Creek Bridge

The REAL Crybaby Creek Bridge

GPS Coordinates: N 34° 39.171 W 080° 31.183

I know you have heard this one. The one about the bridge where you go and hear the baby cry after you call out “Crybaby, crybaby!” Sure. It’s just around the corner. Well, here is the story about the real Crybaby Creek Bridge.

Just a note. Everywhere I look on the net I see this refered to as “Crybaby Bridge”. Maybe it’s just the local southern thing of having to make sure that you know the reason the bridge is there. We call it Crybaby Creek Bridge here. Perhaps it’s one of those things like having to call it “Wal-Marts” or K-Marts”. Of course my favorite is “Let’s go to the Wal-Marts!”

In the early 1940’s a young mother was on her way home on Hwy. 601 in the northern part of South Carolina, just south of Pageland. She was tired and it was late at night, all she wanted was to get her little one home and to get some much needed rest. Her husband had been away fighting the good fight for his country and would be arriving home the next day. It had been a long three years since she had seen him and she was very excited about holding him in her arms again. So excited that she took the bridge over Flat Creek a little to fast. The next thing she knew, she had been thrown from the car and was searching frantically for her baby whom she could hear crying in the dark. Search as she might she could not find him, and as she searched the crying got fainter and fainter until it stopped all together. As did her heart. It broke right there on the spot.

Now on the right night, you can go there and call to that lost little soul. Maybe he will call back to you. Maybe mommy will help you to find him……

I first heard of this place in Jr. High. A very spooky story for someone that is impressionable like we all were at that age. I on the other hand had this as one of my first pieces of the supernatural history of my state. So I started to check stuff like this out. Now I will admit to using this place to scaring a few girls. That’s a given. But I didn’t realize until the advent of the internet just how many of these there were.

The following is a portion of the Wikipedia entry on “Crybaby Bridge.”:

The Crybaby Bridge Phenomenon As Internet Hoax: One Case In Point In Maryland
A clear case can be made for the existence of at least one Crybaby Bridge story as being due to a selective, and almost overnight “seeding” of the Shadowlands Ghost Website in 1999. As Jesse Glass, author of Ghosts and Legends of Carroll County Maryland (Carroll County Public Library, 1982, 1998) and The Witness; Slavery in Nineteenth Century Carroll County, Maryland (Carroll County Historical Society and Meikai University Press) presents it, the “Crybaby Bridge” said to exist near Westminster, Carroll County, Maryland allegedly because of the hanging of runaway slaves, and the infanticide of African American babies there by the Ku Klux Klan, is a hoax because of these points:

1) The almost overnight appearance of “Crybaby Bridges” in Maryland and Ohio, which indicates seeding of selected Internet websites devoted to ghosts and the paranormal. One of the most popular websites in the late 1990’s was the Shadowlands listing of hauntings in each state. Glass recalls noting the sudden appearance of “Crybaby Bridges” on that website and bringing them–particularly the one in Westminster–to the attention of the owner of the site. The story was almost identical in every location, with certain variations indicating a facile knowledge of the history of the area. In the case of Westminster, KKK activity happened in the 1970’s, and received extensive newspaper coverage, so it would not have been difficult for the hoaxer to connect the KKK to the story in Westminster.

2) The lack of any historical documentation of events remotely connected with forced infanticide and deaths of slaves at the bridge. Westminster, Maryland maintained two vital newspapers during the historical period in question,The American Sentinel and The Democratic Advocate. Both papers gave extensive coverage to local events, even the most lurid. This includes hangings, lynchings, and the deaths of African-Americans as well as the activities of the KKK and KKK-like groups during the Reconstruction period. These papers would have reported events like those the Crybaby Bridge story purports to have happened, yet there is not a single mention in any of these papers of those events.

3) The complete lack of any local oral history connected with the bridge in question before 1999. In the 1970’s Glass interviewed elderly residents of Westminster and Carroll County, Maryland to compile the stories in Ghosts and Legends of Carroll County, Maryland, and though he talked to residents who could recall stories of what happened in the area pre-dating the Civil War, not one person mentioned anything remotely connected to the bridge in question. Glass himself spent his formative years in the Westminster area and similarly heard nothing about this story until its abrupt appearance on the Internet.

4) Because of these points Glass, a Maryland folklorist and historian whose work has been recognized by the Maryland Humanities Council and the Library of Congress, concludes that the Westminster Crybaby Bridge story is the result of an Internet hoax, and by extension, suggests that other Crybaby Bridge stories that appeared at the same time as the Westminster story are most probably conscious attempts at creating regional fakelore.

Fakelore? HAH! I like that. Well, I have to go by my little slogan of “True or not! Just looking for a really good story.”

I have been here several times with friends and family. I even place a geocache here. This particular spot is now DNR land and I don’t know if you have permission to go here at night. Which really ruins the story. I mean, you HAVE to go to Crybaby Creek Bridge at night. It’s part of the mystique. I know people that absolutely WILL NOT venture here at night. And with good reason…..

Several years ago when we were first married, the wife and I got into a little bout of “ghost hunting”. We had come down to visit my parents in Kershaw, SC, just a few miles from the site in question, with the intention of going out to Crybaby Creek to do a little filming. I have to say now that I have since lost the tape we made that night. I know that really sucks! I wish I had it to show here and had I known I would be doing this site all this time later I would have guarded that tape with my life.

Anyway, it’s about sundown and we make our way to the site. You have to park at the main road for this one. Years ago you could drive all the way out to the bridge. Now there is a steel gate barring your way. So, a half mile walk on an abandoned highway (this keeps getting better) and you get to the bridge.

By now it’s completely dark. Nothing to light our way but a rechargeable MagLite and the light from the cameras LCD screen. We stayed for about an hour and called out the obligatory “cybaby,crybaby!” All with no results. By this time the full moon had come out from behind the clouds and made the spot all eerie. The surrounding landscape being a piece of swampland really sets the whole thing off. This spot is eerie even in the day time. So we film for a little while longer and head home thinking we have nothing.

We took the ride home to Monroe, NC and set up the camera to watch what we had filmed on the TV. I left the room for a few minutes to get some popcprn and some drinks when I hear this blood curdling scream from the bedroom. I run in and all I hear is a muffled “Turn it off! Turn it off!” from beneath one of the pillows. I, being the loving husband that I am, directly disobeyed and rewound the tape. She left. After a few minutes of VERY amateur film shots there appeared on the screen a perfect image of a babys face in the water of the creek below. I was speechless. She was mad and would not come to bed until I turned off the tape.

I went over and over the tape. Watching the same few seconds over and over again. There it was. A babies face in the water. Power of suggestion? Seeing what I wanted to see? Nope. I took the vid to work and to friends houses to let them watch without telling them what I had seen. Each time the response was “HOLY #$%@! There’s a babies face in the water!”

I can honestly say that this bridge was famous (infamous) for it’s particular peculiarity well before the internet became a popular tool. This story was passed around word of mouth to every kid who would listen. Believe me or not! Better yet, go there yourself and call out to him, if you dare.

So, say what you want about the other Crybaby Bridges, this one is real!

The following are the original comments to this piece when it was over on the Strange Carolina Tales site.

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11 Responses to “The REAL Crybaby Creek Bridge”

  1. In my area we have a story about a ‘haunted’ cemetery complete with it’s onwn 13 steps to Hell story.

    The part I find interesting is that if you talk to locals the area that seems to be the real problem is the highway in front of the cemetery.

    So you have to wonder if the cemtery became the focal point because it is a cemtery.

    This story has given me a lot to think about…great writing!

    And the road?

    It’s just a highway where lots of people have died.

    Sometimes when you research these things you’ll always find the grain of truth…and that grain can be a ’strange tale’ in itself.

  2. You should be aware that The person calling himself Dr. Jesse Glass inserted that material on the Wikipedia site to promote a personal belief he has and an apparent extreme dislike of the Shadowlands webiste. Wikipedia does not permit people to use its articles to publish origiinal research or to insert material of their own writing. His material and clear conflict of interest was discussed at length on the Talk page and largely removed. A more neutral editor ( not me) redacted his basic hypothesis (and that is ALL it is) and added the summary of it to the article under the subheading ‘Controversy’ Never in all my years as a folklorist or anthropologist have I observed such odd and unacademic behavior. Wikipedia is a public encyclopedia and it plays a valuable role on the net. Your citing his added material is a good argument for it being removed since people look to wikipedia for the first word on a subject. It may be true that the term Crybaby bridge was popularized via the Net and that people who looked upon a given local bridge as haunted adopted the term and maybe even some of the backstory of the bridges listed on Shadowlands. That is not fakelore since no deception is intended. What Dr., Glass has against that website, I don’t quite understand.

    As for your own Crybaby bridge – if you can document the stories, you should. Record them as told to you by others and date the recordings. If you can come across any old newspapers stories or even personal correspondence that discusses the events that too is helpful. Keep writing and consider contributing to wikipedia. Folklore topics could use some more input!

  3. I’m Dr. Jesse Glass–not a person calling himself that, and I have nothing against any website. The Carroll County Crybaby Bridge is an clear example of an internet hoax. The anonymous editor of the Wikipedia page redacted my points, true enough, but there was and is no conflict of interest.

  4. Oh–that should be “a clear example”

  5. I don’t like the controversy of this, BUT, I will not remove wither comment. Welcome to the both of you. I actually like the viewpoint of the good Doctor in this particular article and thought it a valuable opinion on the subject. As I said in part of my article, our Crybaby Creek Bridge has existed here, in story and in fact, since before I was born.

    Dr. Glass I hope you do not mind me using your viewpoint here on my site. I really enjoyed this part of the Wikipedia article.

    Could you tell me if they were your points or not? I will delete them if they are not. I would hate for anyone to be misquoted. However I do find that they are good points.

  6. They’re absolutely my points! In fact, I just went back over my “sent” e-mails and can tell you that I sent my first e-mail (unanswered) to Shadowlands on February 21, 1999, so that’s the time that the Crybaby Bridges first started to appear on the Internet. It was almost an over-night appearance, so I would guess that the information was “seeded” during the week of February 14th, 1999. I have no beef with Shadowlands–it was, along with Obiwan’s UFO-free pages–simply one of the few ghost and paranormal sites back then, and its open “hauntings” board classified according to geographical region, was (if I recall correctly) almost a one-of-a-kind feature. I have yet another e-mail from a woman who complained to me about the flood of Crybaby Bridge reports that year.

    The Wikipedia business about “conflict of interest” was a misunderstanding by the anonymous editor with whom I was corresponding. Conflict of interest means that one is somehow trying to benefit from posting about a subject. My book Ghosts and Legends of Carroll County was simply cited because I literally wrote the book on the paranormal events of that area. I was not attempting to sell that book or anything else I’ve written by spoeaking up about this internet hoax.

    What I do find rather awful and personally distasteful about the Crybaby Bridge hoax is the made-up, openly racist story regarding deaths of slaves and African-American babies from that bridge when there is not a stick of evidence for any of it. I think that’s simply morally reprehensible to attempt to foist that kind of canard onto a community like Westminster which has had, believe you me, it’s share of racial misunderstandings and tragedies.

    I am Dr. Jesse Glass. You can look me up on the Wikipedia, if you like. I don’t hide behind a web moniker. Thanks so much! Jesse

  7. this is a link to the Baltimore Examiner about me and what I know of Westminster, Maryland:

    http://www.examiner.com/a-600016~Carroll_County__free_at_last_.html

    You may also check the first page of http://www.ahadadabooks.com under Ahadada in Carroll County to see more. I believe that Carroll County, Maryland should apologize for slavery.

  8. One more link: this is to teh apology article:

    http://www.examiner.com/a-617826~Historian_says_Carroll_should_apologize.html

    Thanks, Jesse

    P.S. Also, for those of you who want to check out the Westminster Crybaby Fake-lore itself, please check out my free, down-loadable book The Witness at the Ahadada Books website.

  9. Just wanted to add this link to my literary papers at the University of Maryland, College Park Special collections: http://www.lib.umd.edu/archivesum/actions.DisplayEADAbstract.do?source=/MdU.ead.litms.0063.xml&tyle=abstract&ocname=/MdU.ead.litms.0063.xml

    Thanks! Jesse Glass

  10. we need directions. can you e mail them to me so that we can go and visit?

  11. Okay, my brother, three friends, and the youth leader from our church are going to that same crybaby bridge to test the urban legend. What exactly do you have to do? Anybody know? There are tons of stories, like that you have to turn the car off at night and put your keys on top and they’ll dissapear, and of course screaming “Crybaby,crybaby!”, but what EXACTLY is it?

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