I was originally going to post this story in the Ohio News of the Weird section. But as I’ve mentioned numerous times before on this site, ONW is for stories that, while weird, are a bit lighthearted. And to be honest, after reading through the reports several times, I don’t find anything the least bit funny.
According to reports, a device that is referred to as a “pipe bomb” or an “IED” (Improvised Exploding Device) was discovered on May 28th near the Maud Hughes Road bridge in Liberty Township. Over the years, the bridge has developed a reputation for being haunted and is now known locally (and among ghost enthusiasts) as the Screaming Bridge–its name being derived from one of the many urban legends associated with the bridge in which the ghostly screams of a woman can be heard coming from under/near the structure.
After the device was discovered, the authorities were summoned and they spent the next 90 minutes dismantling the bomb before removing it. Currently, there are no further developments in the case and it is not known who placed the bomb near the bridge or why, although Sergeant Rob Whitlock of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office is quoting as saying that “there doesn’t appear to be any maliciousness” involved. And that’s the point where this story suddenly takes a really dark turn.
Call me “dense” (you wouldn’t be the first…or last), but I fail to see how placing a homemade explosive device near a bridge is NOT malicious. Granted, Whitlock is basing his comment on where the device was found: his full quote is “in my opinion, from where the pipe bomb was found, there doesn’t appear to be any maliciousness to it”, but that still doesn’t hold water for me. In my eyes, placing a pipe bomb anywhere constitutes malicious behavior.
I also am a bit disturbed by Whitlock’s comment that whoever placed the pipe bomb “was just down there trying to make a big bang.” Oh, OK, now I feel better. It was just a bunch of wacky kids messing around and building a pipe bomb so’s they can make a big ol’ bang. Kinda like The Little Rascals used to do, right?
Look, I’m not trying to mock the way the Sheriff’s Office is handling things (OK, maybe just a little) nor am I trying to say there’s some big conspiracy at work here involving the coverup of some big plot to destroy bridges in Southern Ohio. Far from it. But here’s the thing: I’ve been to the Screaming Bridge many, many times over the years and it’s a dangerous place to go, even without pipe bombs. For one, the place has become a hangout for kids, partly due to it being fairly overgrown and secluded and partly because of its “haunted” reputation. Despite locals trying to keep the kids away, even to the point of erecting No Trespassing signs in recent years, people keep coming and either try to park on or near the bridge or else walk in and slide down the embankment to get to the bridge. Parking on any bridge is never a good idea, but it’s a horrible idea to try to park on the Screaming Bridge since its situated in such a way that there is a blind curve immediately after crossing the bridge. In other words, you’ll never see that oncoming car until it’s too late. And if you try to park alongside the bridge, there’s hardly any space to do so (and that space is usually posted, anyway) without you running the risk of rolling your car down the embankment.
Those who try to climb down the embankment also run the risk of injury as the steep incline is usually overgrown and hard to get a foothold on. There is a bit of a worn path there, but with even the slightest bit of rain, it becomes wet and slippery. When that happens, like it or not, you’re probably going to fall on your butt.
My point in all this is simple: even driving your car over the Screaming Bridge can be treacherous, especially if you have to keep an eye out for thrill-seeking kids darting in front of you. Whoever put that pipe bomb there surely knew that. So in my opinion, if the makers of the pipe bomb really were just looking “to make a big bang”, they were looking to scare passing motorists, ghost-hunting people, or both. Whatever the case, that’s clearly malicious. I know for a fact that people often go out to the Screaming Bridge, usually late at night, and hide there to scare motorists as they drive by. I’ve actually interviewed more than a few of the “Screamers” who have regaled me with their stories of hiding under the bridge, screaming as a car went by, and then running off, giggling, as they watch the car’s brake lights come on. I can’t say I condone that behavior, but it is the sort of “spooking” that has gone on for generations. Explosive devices are another story entirely, especially in the troubled times we’re living in today.
Bottom line? I used to tell people to stay away from the Screaming Bridge because of the terrain and the fact that it was posted. Now I feel I need to add “and some imbeciles like to go out there to make a big bang with pipe bombs.”
Stay safe, people. And I’ll be sure to do the same as I climb off my Soap Box now.
You can read the entire Cincinnati.com article by clicking here.