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.