Three different readers share their own personal experiences that forever bind them to the tragic, haunted Leroy’s Bridge.
1/1/05: Paper Hanger offers his take on the tragic, haunted legend of Leroy’s Bridge, as well as his own creepy experiences with “The Walking Dude”:
While I was living in West Salem, I heard of a local legend called Leroy’s Bridge. I lived about 2 miles away from the bridge, but it’s not the story or the bridge itself that still send a chill up my spine.. but it may or may not be something worth checking out…
As the story goes, Leroy was a black man who was lynched by the Ku Klux Klan back
in the 20’s for making eyes with a white woman. He was hung on one of the oak trees that shade the bridge and left to rot. It was considered a warning to others, Leroy was an “example.” Well, SOMEONE took the body down and it has yet to be found. However, the rope with the noose hole was still hanging–it was as if the body vanished.
I dont know if this story holds any water, because its something the old timers who were around at the time in the towns of West Salem and Congress don’t talk about, they just shrug it off. With small towns like this, nobody talks about past events like THAT. Also, I don’t think it is something that would show up in the newspapers, even during Jim Crowe times.
The bridge itself is pretty unremarkable. It’s about 15 feet long over a shallow creek, and vandalized all to hell.
But, I have seen a mysterious specter, called “the walking dude” (I still get goose bumps thinking about it) by the people who lived on the road my house was on (Ruff Road, which turns into Overton Road after you cross 604). Others say “the walking dude” is Leroy and his pursuers. But it is either the top half of a man running, or the bottom half of SOMEONE walking at a fast paced stride. I have seen the bottom half numerous times, mostly outside walking in the direction towards the bridge, and the top half only once, RUNNING in the direction of the bridge.
In my house, it always felt like there was something watching, and it was always cold, even in the summer, but we did not have air conditioning. According to the legend, the leader of the lynch mob used to own the property I lived on. I have family names of people who were involved in the lynching, but I wouldn’t know where to begin to look to get to the bottom of it.
I think the story may have some merit, but is more of human reasoning for the ghosts that haunt the area I have looked at other sites, and all they say about Leroy’s Bridge is that he fell off and died, which is amazing considering that the creek bed is about 6 feet below the bridge itself.
Also, there is talk about a satanic cult, which was the first I ever heard of THAT.
I don’t know if you have already looked this legend up and figured it isn’t worth mentioning, or even cared to look at it, or heard of it. But I thought I would send you guys a line and tell you what I know of the story.
Leroy’s Bridge is just a corner stone. Drive down some of the back roads at night, especially Franchester Road leading into Congress. Those roads are haunted.
I have read a lot about the haunted bridges in my area and i have visited a lot of them. It is not often that we ever hear anything or see anything but the thrill of being there is worth it. But come last weekend, which was Friday the 13th, my thought on all these haunted places have changed.
My friends and i had went to a party earlier that night. None of us were really messed up but we felt like being in for a little scare. So instead of taking the quick way home, since we were already on Franchester road, we decided to take the long way and go see Leroy’s Bridge.
Now the rumor has it that the Klu Klux Klan from Lodi still meets there. I believe it because there is an area in the grass off to the side of the bridge that is always flattened unlike all the other tall grass.
The story has it that Leroy was a black slave who was killed by the KKK for looking at a white woman in the 1920s. Well last Friday little did my friends and i know we were in for a little scare.
As we headed down towards the bridge like always on Overton Road, all of us felt a weird feeling that I had never felt before. It was a warm night yet all of us had goosebumps and were very cold. We pulled up to the bridge and turned and faced it in my car and turned off my lights.
Immediately my 3 friends and i screamed as we saw a headless man walking across the bridge. We didn’t have much time to look at him because he was moving very fast, faster then any human could have been walking and had a sort of white blur over him. He turned and glanced at us as he disappeared off the side of the bridge.
We sat there for a few minutes in shock and then I realized our windows were down. I told everyone to be quiet. We could hear him whispering. It was plain as day that it was a man’s voice talking, not just the wind or the fear of the night.
As i went to turn on my car and get the hell out of there, my car had a really hard time starting and i have a new 2003 focus; it never has problems. Finally it started and I drove faster then I knew my little car could go.
I know that night my friends and I saw Leroy and no matter what people say he is still there just waiting for the kkk and to hopefully get his revenge. That night has changed how I look at fear and Ii will think twice before someone says “Hey, let’s go to a hunted bridge” again.
6/1/2010: V offers some family history to help solve (?) the historical mystery of Leroy’s Bridge:
A revision to your Leroy’s bridge story..
When my grandpa Nolletti was still alive he told me the real story of Leroy’s Bridge. Back in the 1920’s, my Grandmother’s father had a brother who was apart of the Black Hand Mafia. His last name was Yankello, (they were Italian if it was not already evident). Anyway, this man was horrible, my Grandma’s mother would not even claim him as her child any longer and the entire family was afraid of him. This group, the Black Hand, was the group that hanged Leroy off of the bridge. The rest of the story is accurate, however, it should be noted that Leroy was black and that the hanging was unjust. This relative of mine, among with other Italians were responsible for the hanging there. Freaked me out when I first heard it.
On a further note, I went to school at Northwestern and kids dare each other every now and then to go out to the bridge at night and turn off their car. Well, it’s said that if you drive out there at midnight at an abandoned car will be sitting there on the bridge….several friends of mine witnessed it. Also, since the hanging, a woman killed her baby underneath there, satanic cults meet there. Much like cry baby bridge, but this one is a little less severe.