The Ghosts of the Devil's Bridge
Is San Antonio the most haunted city in Texas? It sure seems like it, as it is a city with many strange occurrences throughout its long established paranormal history. Research local lore and you'll quickly find out about urban legends like the Donkey Lady, the haunted railroad tracks and La Llorona.
A lesser known legend, but equally, if not actually surpassing in creepiness, is the Devil's Bridge. No, not the one in Sedona, Arizona, better known as the Devil's Bridge Trail. And I'm not talking about the Devil's Bridge in Ceredigion, Wales, or one of the other countless ancient bridges that can be found mostly in Europe (there are allegedly 49 Pont du Diable in France alone). This Devil's bridge is straight outta the old west, right in San Antonio.
It's been said that after night fall, the darkness that surrounds the bridge is so dense, that if you shine a light it will not penetrate more than a few feet out. So, be careful if you actually decide to drive over the bridge at night. The Devil's Bridge is located near the San Juan Mission, in the 2400 Block of Ashley Road, (San Antonio, Texas 78214).
True evil is believed to lurk on this bridge at night. You may even smell sulfur (rotten eggs), which is usually a sign that something demonic is lingering around, waiting. It is also said that if you dare to step up to foot of the bridge and throw a rock, you'll never hear it land. It's almost as if someone (or something) catches the rock, or possibly, the rock disappears all together.
People who have visited the bridge (after the sun has set), have successfully collected eerie EVPs (Electronic voice phenomenons), just before becoming overwhelmed by the truly ominous presence that haunts the bridge.
Throughout history, bridges have represented both technical and metaphorical achievements. But, sometimes these symbolic structures take on a more negative reputation. In some of the more common legends, these structures are associated with demonic stories and are labeled as a Devil's Bridge.
Local lore usually incorrectly dates these bridges to Roman times, however, most are actually medieval, constructed 1000-1600 AD. One origin story of how these bridges received their name came about from the belief that the creation of these bridges were beyond the capabilities of man, and only could have been built by the devil himself (much in the same way as some theorize that aliens built the pyramids).
There are so many Devil's Bridges around the world that it must be categorize as a phenomenon. While the lore behind each individual bridge may vary, they all share that one crucial, common theme, that somehow, that someway the Devil was involved in its creation.
One frequent origin story depicts the creation of the bridge as a triumph over the Devil. In these tales, the builder of said bridge faced extreme challenges during the constructional process that were only made worse by the Devil's hands. For every hurdle the builder would leap over, the Devil was there to throw another in his path.
By the end, if the builder had survived and overcame the Devil by completing his bridge, he was treated by the townspeople as a hero. This reminds me of the song "Heroes" by the late great, David Bowie; in particular, the line "though nothing will drive them away, we can be heroes, just for one day."
Another version told about the Devil's Bridge is a classic "Deal with the Devil" scenario. The Devil makes a pact with a person from a village in desperate need of a bridge. In exchange for his help the Devil will receive the soul of the first individual who crosses over the structure. In this folktale, the Devil is usually outsmarted by the villager, as the villager lures an animal, usually a dog (I guess not all dogs go to heaven) over the bridge first, sparing the souls of all the people from the village. This is just another reason why dogs are considered to be man's best friend (too bad, man doesn't always repay the favor).
The old stone bridge--sometimes known as "The Devil's Bridge" in Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany.
One of the most famous Devil's bridges in the world is the Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge) in Regensburg, Germany. The legend behind the Stone Bridge is quite the amazing tale. The story involves a race between two builders, the mentor versus his protégé. The mentor was building a cathedral while his protégé was constructing a bridge—the two of them made a bet, and the bet was to see who could finish their structure first.
Eager to beat his mentor, the protégé made a deal with the Devil. In this pact, the Devil would receive the first three souls to cross the bridge. With the Devil's help the protégé won the bet. Filled with regret, the protégé guarded the bridge, refusing to let anyone cross. He was later visited by his mentor who was concerned by his behavior. The protégé broke down and confessed to his mentor of the deal he made with the Devil. The mentor came to the young man's aid, sending a rooster, a hen and a dog over the bridge. The Devil was so enraged that he was tricked by the cunning mentor, he attempted to destroy the bridge, but it was too strong to be ruined. However, the Devil's attempt did leave a bump in the middle of the bridge that is still there to this day.
Every bridge from around the world that has received the moniker of the "Devil's Bridge," has a fantastical parable behind its creation. Most of these bridges were technological marvels with an amazing shroud of mystique.
The Devil's Bridge on East Ashley Road in San Antonio may not be a modern marvel, but it is cloaked in mystery. The bridge runs over a ravine that is so deep, that if you toss a rock off of it, you will never hear it drop. It is said that the bridge has not only been visited by the Devil but is haunted by other supernatural forces as well.
According to one source, back in the early 1970s, when he was a teenager, he used to explore the area around the bridge. One day, he found pieces of pottery and square nails, he then showed the items to his Priest at the San Juan Church. The Priest informed him that Native Americans used to live near the river, and would travel to that specific part to retrieve water. The Priest then warned him to be careful, because in the past, he himself had seen ghosts walking the grounds around the area where the Native Americans would camp out.
One man claims the story behind the Devil's Bridge on Ashley Road goes back to the Spanish Inquisition. He says, "There was a pastor, and all of his parishioners were killed in the Inquisition. He blamed himself, and hung himself from a tree near the bridge." Some have reported hearing the sounds of a creaking rope in nearby trees, and the creaking actually sounds like a swinging noose.
A ghost hunter named Joe went out to the bridge one night, a few years ago. He allegedly recorded an EVP, saying, "I'm here. He also captured another recording of a different voice. Joe had asked this spirit, "Who are you?"
The voice responded, "Melvin."
Joe was unable to find any records of a Melvin (neither was I), but he believes that Melvin may have died in the area many years ago before official records were kept on file. Perhaps, Melvin was the pastor who hanged himself.
One grizzly rumored haunting at this bridge involves a headless lady who likes to sneak up behind people at night. This account may actually stem from the headless nun who haunts San Antonio's Christus Santa Rosa Hospital.
However, there was a tragic accident that did occur on the bridge. It happened around 12 a.m. of March 7th, in the year of 1965. A 41-year-old woman was fatally injured when the car she was riding in crashed into the Devil's Bridge on Ashley Road. She was pronounced dead on arrival at Baptist Memorial Hospital at 12:30 a.m.—her name was Victoria Ann Broussard. Her husband Al R. Broussard, who went unarmed in the crash, was the one driving the car. The patrolman that arrived on the scene quoted Mr. Broussard as saying, "he did not see the bridge. The right front section of his car crashed head on with the edge of the bridge's guard rail." Mrs. Broussard was buried the following Tuesday in San Fernando Cemetery No. 2. She was survived by her husband, son, Al R. Broussard Jr. and four sisters, all of San Antonio.
Does Victoria's spirit haunt the Devil's Bridge? A death this tragic, one can only assume so. Regardless, of whether or not her soul is still trapped on the bridge, this story serves as a reminder of the danger that the Devil's Bridge holds, especially at night.
On one occasion, a man and his girlfriend were driving along the dark Ashley Road, when they neared the Devil's Bridge, traveling at a speed of only 35 miles per hour. Just before the bridge, there is a street lamp, and the two claimed they noticed a white cloudy shape, hovering above the street lamp, before floating down, over the shoulder of the bridge. The man described the white cloud (possibly a spirit) as appearing to be a sideways cylinder shape, similar to a football.
The man also claimed that there was a "strong stench of rotten eggs, sulfur just putrid, we had the windows up, and the AC on. I didn't think we could smell something that strong from outside the car." Fearful, they immediately made a U-Turn. He then added, "It was about three miles before the stench wore off. This was just too bizarre."
An older gentleman, who grew up on the south side of San Antonio, recalls crossing over the Devil's Bridge on East Ashley Road as a youth. He believes firmly that of all the supposedly haunted places in San Antonio (and, there are many) none were as creepy as the Devil's Bridge. He tells of a little known story: Apparently back in the 1980s, the bridge was a "major attraction for rebellious teens," and even became a gathering spot for Devil Worshipers. He claims that underneath the bridge, you could find animal remains that were used as sacrifices for rituals.
A group of friends decided to visit the Devil's Bridge one night with a Ouija Board. They claimed that they began to hear cats meow, and could smell rotten eggs. They also believed that they saw something in the bushes, where a kind of screaming started to emanate. The Ouija Board then spelled out "murder X." After that, the friends got back in the car and drove off.
A couple of other daring friends went to the Devil's Bridge to test the rock legend. They each threw a rock into the water, and not once did they hear a rock make a splashing sound. The legend they grew up hearing is that the water that runs under the bridge is haunted by a girl, and that she is the one who catches the rock. Some sources claim that the little girl's name is either Matilda or Maddie.
Back in 2009, a woman named Sarah went to the Devil's Bridge with two of her friends, and recounted her visit: "Whatever it is, it's something very serious, that's no place to be messed around with. I don't know how to describe what I saw, but whatever it was, looked straight at me. That's a place you never want to go to. That was my first, and last time going to that bridge!"
Just about five miles south of San Antonio, in Losoya, there is apparently another Devil's Bridge. This small bridge over the Losoya creek, is one that you definitely should be afraid of, so do not be fooled by its size.
One person was told by his mother (while visiting his great-grandmother as a child), that he should never go near the Losoya creek bridge. She claimed the Devil, at one time lived there. Another source confirms this legend, stating "the Devil still shows up every so often at the bridge."
Another Devil's Bridge story, this one is from the early 1960s, a group of friends had decided it would be fun to have a midnight road trip. Uncertain of where they were going, they traveled down a paved road that was lined with houses only to its left. When they passed the last of the houses, they found the road was no longer paved. But, they continued down the dirt road, under the moon lit sky. After awhile, they could see something ahead; it was an extremely old and weathered, wooden bridge. It was an especially hot night, so they had the windows rolled down, and as they crossed over the bridge they could hear creaking noises, and what sounded like screams from the past hollering out for help. The group of friends later found out that the bridge they had crossed over that frightful night was known as a Devil's Bridge. Apparently, the old wooden bridge no longer exists, replaced by a modern structure. But that doesn't necessarily mean the Devil and the souls he tortures won't still show up at night.
A few years back, (at night of course) some friends went looking for another rumored Devil's Bridge, they parked the car near where they were told the bridge was located, and walked around for what felt like thirty minutes. They finally had the bright idea to turn their flash lights on, and spotted a rail that blocked a dirt trail, obviously, they climbed over the rail and continued on with their journey. Then, after about 10 minutes of walking, they found the old bridge. The friends started to feel like they were being watched when they noticed a "smoke like apparition" appear before the Devil's Bridge. Freaked out by this encounter, the friends agreed that it was time to leave.
If you decide to seek out one of these Devil's Bridges, we advise that you do so in a group of your closest friends. The stories are numerous, and each account may vary from one to the next, but they all agree, there is something evil that calls the Devil's Bridge home. Just finding some of these bridges is an adventure unto itself. But, the most commonly acknowledged Devil's Bridge in San Antonio is located in the 2400 block (2454) of East Ashley Road.
We wish you the best of luck.