Sylvania is a small township no more than a 30 minute drive from my hometown of Toledo, OH. It’s a quiet and unassuming place that not many people would want to go out of their way to visit. Unless, that is, it is home to a local legend that has been giving people late night scares for years.
Gibbs Bridge is that legend. Constructed in 1923, and not more than a 100 feet long, it sits in the middle of a small patch of woods and is used for nothing more than to apparently travel over a creek between some farmland and downtown Sylvania Township. As is often the case with stories such as these, no one knows for sure just how the legend got started. But, of course, “rumor has it” that in the 70s a terrible car accident occurred on the bridge that resulted in a fatality. Or maybe it was a motorcycle many years before that. No one knows. Phantom sounds of squealing brakes, high pitched screaming, and dark shadowy figures are said to be witnessed by those that dare cross it. Some even report the sounds of a revving motorcycle. And like any good local legend, things get way crazier if you park your car on the bridge at midnight, put your keys on the roof, and flash your headlights 3 times.
|Attracting fucktards since 1923|
I’ve visited it a few different times. Once, with a group of friends from my old ragtag group of paranormal enthusiasts called Frogtown Paranormal. That night we didn’t see any shadow beings, but we did hear screaming. Unfortunately it came not from ghosts, but from the near nonstop collection of idiots in pickup trucks driving up and down the stretch of road peeling out and hollering whatever monosyllabic phrases their surely alcohol riddled brains could come up with. But, it wasn’t a total loss that night. We did see a cool chunk of animal spine decked out on the side of the bridge that had been sitting there for who knows how long.
Recently, having decided to go on a tour of local urban legends, occult mysteries, and paranormal hot spots around town; and after reading up on Gibbs Bridge reports from other would-be spook snoops, my friend and fellow Strange Frequencies Radio co-host Bobby Nelson and I decided to take a trip out there together. We would surely be in for danger, as some witnesses online had written about being chased off the bridge not by a shadowy specter, but by a shotgun wielding madman in a truck. So, there was a chance of death. Rad!
We headed out, talking along the way of urban legends and our own visits to the bridge before we knew one another. As we closed in on Sylvania-Metamora Road, about 4 or 5 large black birds circled above our car. Probably carrion crows, or perhaps buzzards, the sight of scavengers locking onto us gave us a chuckle. Though we didn’t say it out loud, I believe each of us gave a thought about them being harbingers warning us. What were we getting ourselves into? Did doom await us at Gibbs Bridge? We pressed on.
|Ten Mile Creek|
We turned left on Sylvania-Metamora, passing homes and businesses along the way. We remembered only that Gibbs Bridge was in a more secluded area. And when the sights of people milling about started to wane, we knew we were close. Then, just ahead and to the right, we spotted the heavily wooded area that signaled our destination. Gibbs Bridge lies in the middle of those trees.
We turned down the lonely road, and parked off to the side. We saw the “No Loitering” sign, but didn’t pay it much heed. We didn’t expect to be here long, and we had chosen to come in the middle of the afternoon to avoid the ire of the locals and the onslaught of teenagers who would be likely to arrive as darkness fell.
We walked the bridge back and forth for around 30 minutes or so, telling old stories, snapping pictures, and remarking on the various sights and sounds. The bridge itself is covered at every inch by graffiti of some sort or another, and in just about every color imaginable. Stupid graffiti, too. Much of it just nonsense phrases that only meant something to the person who had the spray paint, and others still are artistic renditions of penises. Colorful penises. It is also marked heavily by the tire tracks of those drunken yahoos I mentioned earlier. I looked for the chunk of spine I had found before, but it had probably washed away in a heavy rain or snowfall long ago.
|A moron wrote this|
Though Gibbs Bridge is tucked back a little ways from the main road, and right in the thick of woods and Ten Mile Creek, the sound of engines revving in the distance, and children playing (screaming) could easily be heard. Whether this explains what people have heard is not something I can determine. And though this visit was not at night like previous ones had been, I can say that a combination of the stories in your head and the dark and spooky atmosphere is enough to put most people a little on edge. I’m just glad we didn’t run across any firearm packing jive turkeys.
|This is a blue penis|
|This is a green penis|
As of this writing, I’m still waiting to hear back from Sylvania Township police about the reports of vehicular deaths on Gibbs Bridge, and to get a statement about the safety concerns of dealing with angry neighbors who aren’t so keen on their front lawns being a teenager’s late night hang out. Until I do, I’m pretty confident in saying that Gibbs Bridge doesn’t attract ghosts, but instead a lot of teenagers just looking for late night kicks.
And some of them apparently take their pants off in the process.