By Jason O'Boyd, Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 —
It’s hard to turn down a good ghost story. If it’s one that involves a place one is familiar with, that makes it even better.
This is a pretty good ghost story. And it’s right in our own backyard.
Booger Hollar Bridge is on Booger Hollar Road, just off St. Martin Road about five miles from Albemarle.
This bridge is one of a couple of similar ones in the county: One lane, pretty old, no guard rails and prone to flooding a lot.
The bridge is situated at the bottom of a pretty steep hill and allows cars to cross Big Bear Creek.
It seems to be held up more by the large rock structure at the edge of both sides of the creek than anything else.
The rains in June and July weighed heavily on the bridge and tore it to pieces.
A photo on Facebook showed the broken pavement on the bridge along with a tree that fell and debris that collected from the creek, which easily washed over the frail structure. The road was closed for a couple of weeks while repairs were made to the bridge.
Today, the repairs to the pavement are pretty obvious if one comes up on the bridge. While it remains rather short in length, it still can make the most cautious driver a little leery as they move their vehicle across the structure.
And while it’s old and basically worn out, it does hold a lot of interesting history and stories.
Not all of the stories are good.
Legend has it a father and son drowned while trying to cross the low-water bridge on a horse and buggy many years ago.
Another story has a woman and her child drowning when their car stalled on the bridge and it was washed off the rickety fixture.
People have said they’ve heard screams from the woods and there have been reports of Satanic practices conducted at the bridge.
Getting some people to talk about the bridge is almost as difficult as nailing down the validity of the tales told about the bridge.
But not everyone is holding the secrets of the bridge to themselves.
Kim Simpson operates Southernspooks.com, a website started in August 2008 to document the activities of a group of friends who have investigated numerous paranormal activities in this part of the state. The website lists several visits by members of the group to similar places in Richfield, Badin and New London.
On Nov. 10, 2008, Simpson and a couple members of the team made the visit to Booger Hollar Bridge.
After spending about 20 minutes and not recording any activity, Simpson distinctly remembers feeling very uneasy about her surroundings.
“We didn’t expect to get anything, to be honest with you. My best friend, she told me about it and that’s how I found it,” said Simpson, who is a teacher in Rock Hill, S.C.
“We were told about the accident and things that were heard in and around the bridge. We got down there and unloaded all the stuff. We pulled just past the bridge and walked down. At first we didn’t hear anything, not even the wind blowing.
“Then about 20 minutes, just sticking around and waiting, you could just feel the pressure change. I don’t know how to describe it. The pressure changed near that bridge, and all of a sudden we heard what sounded like a woman screaming. We looked around, shined the flashlights and didn’t see anything.”
The team explored the area, went into the woods and even made it under the bridge. They also had digital recorders to document the experience. When they went back to pour over the information, the recorder caught what sounds like a faint scream, someone singing and a child asking for his daddy. The group posted the recordings on the website, which span 14-17 seconds each.
Simpson said she went to the Stanly County Museum and to the Stanly County Public Library to see if there was any information regarding the alleged accidents but came up empty.
“There may be something there but I’m not sure what it is,” Simpson said.
“I wasn’t a believer until I went out there and found it for myself. You believe what you can and what you want.”
Reggie Taylor, who lives near the bridge, said he has heard the screams and knows where they might come from. And the culprit isn’t what one might expect: a bobcat.
“One thing that a lot of people don’t realize, and unless you live in the country or been in a place and you’ve heard them, a bobcat crying will sound just like a woman screaming. It will absolutely send chills down your spine,” Taylor said.
“I’ve heard it here, I used to live in Badin at one time, you go down between the falls and the dam to go fishing, you’d hear them out there. My dad used to be a security guard at Alcoa. He would make his rounds and hear them, and it was a terrifying sound to hear them.”
Taylor’s property sits beside Big Bear Creek and he knows several people in the neighborhood who can tell stories about the experiences at the bridge. Taylor even said his mother was quite familiar with the bridge and the stories that came from it.
“I really wish my mom was alive. She died about two years ago. She was born and raised in this area,” Taylor said.
“She knew this area like the back of her hand. She could probably enlighten us even more. I hear the stories, the baby cry or the woman scream, things like that. I’ve been down there at night. I’ve never seen anything, and yeah, it’s a spooky place from the stories you hear people tell.”
The responses to the Booger Hollar Bridge visit by Simpson and her team have elicited more responses than nearly any other place they’ve visited.
People have posted their own experiences in detail and truly believe something is going on around the old bridge.
Taylor said he has heard all the stories but has never really seen anything that would cause him to question what was in front of him. And while he believes the screaming of bobcats could likely account for some of the legends of the bridge, everything about it can’t be truly explained.
And so the bridge and the stories that come with it remain somewhat of a mystery.
“There probably have been four or five occasions over the last six years or so, seven years that I’ve lived out here, that I’ve heard bobcats. Unless you hear one and you are with somebody that says ‘Hey, did you hear that bobcat?’ you would honestly think it was a woman screaming. If I heard one coming home from work tonight; it would probably send chills up my spine hearing it,” Taylor said.
To submit story ideas, contact Jason O. Boyd at (704) 982-2121 ext. 28 or email at jason@stanlynewspress. com.