Image Courtesy of M. Renegar
Every town seems to have that one story which is passed down from generation to generation, scaring us as children and fascinating us into our adulthood. Most of these folklore are based loosely on a real event with dashes of the fantastic added by grandfathers who just liked to get a rise out of the grandkids before bed. It's a wonderful part of the human heritage and a fun way to remember small pieces of history. Especially around this time of the year.
In my neck of the woods it is the infamous "Lydia's Bridge". The legend will probably be familiar to you since this has been a theme of a few spooky stories. You know the ones; quiet ghost girl hitchhiking and when she is picked up she whispers her destination only to vanish before the driver can arrive? Yeah, well that story origination right here in my hometown of North Carolina. Though the story is factual the details were only recently pieced together.
Back in the early 1920's a young girl and her date were traveling to dance when their car lost control and struck the bridge on Main Street in Jamestown, North Carolina. The girl, Lydia, was thrown from the vehicle and died instantly. Being a prefect gentleman, the boyfriend drove away leaving the limp body of the girl on the side of the road.
As terrible as that story may be, a year later another young man was traveling the same road where he noticed a young girl standing on the side of the road. On such a cold dark night the man was concerned for her safety as she was only dressed in an evening gown. He pulled over and asked if he could assist in getting her to where she was going. Quietly she accepted and in an eerie whisper, told him her address.
It has been told the young man drove the whole way trying to be friendly by engaging in small talk but none was reciprocated. In fact, he grew steadily uneasy and car smelled of dead wet leaves. When he finally arrived at the address she gave the young man, he exited the car and walked to her side of the vehicle. It was then he realized she had vanished into thin air.
Obviously in a state of concussion, he walked to the house they had stopped at and knocked on the door. When an older woman answered he described the phantom passenger and inquired if she sounded familiar. To both of their shock it was her daughter who had died just a year before.
Sound fantastic and a retold story for every generation? You betcha! In my opinion it is one of the better ghost stories to be told. And what makes this even better is that recently an article from 1921 proves there was an actual fatal car accident at the site of Lydia's Bridge, however it wasn't a young lady on the way to a dance but a woman named Annie L. Jackson. I am unsure of the legitimacy of the ghostly hitchhiker a year later but for fun, let's let that legend stand.
Join me as I bring you to the Lydia's Bridge and explore the lore of the Triad of North Carolina. Buckle up! (I'm gong to Hell)