News Section: Community
Sunday Favorites: Haunted Highways
Part Three of our Florida-Themed Halloween Series
We've all heard stories, sometimes from friends, maybe family members. Often their local legends, tales passed down from generations; other times they're newer tales that could one day be passed down from generation to generation.
Regardless, Florida is filled with stories of haunted roads, tales of apparitions seen on some desolate highway, maybe a hooded figure standing in the distance as an excited and frightened couple drive by.
St. Petersburg, Fla.
One of the most famous ghost stories locally is the tale of the blonde hitchhiker, who has been seen countless times on the Sunshine Skyway. The tale is so popular that it has been written about and collected in dozens of books.
According to the legend, on any given night that’s saturated with dense fog or soaked in pouring rain will lure this saddened siren will be drawn to the Skyway, the vast bridge that spans over Tampa Bay. She is often seen looking longingly off the top or else hitchhiking her way to the highest point. She will be wearing a white dress and sometimes take on a form so palpable that drivers will often pick her up thinking she’s a real person. People have even engaged in conversation with her. The closer they get to the top of the bridge the more anxious she’ll become until finally disintegrating into thin air.
When conditions are desirable, police stations and tollbooths will be littered with callers reporting “a sad blonde woman who looks like she may jump.” Some texts claim that she appeared after the Summit tragedy of 1980 when a freighter crashed into the Skyway Bridge, but sightings have occurred prior to that. She is thought to be a suicide victim that hitchhiked her way into an infinite purgatory.
On nights when the moon is full, a creek below a bridge known as "Bloody Bucket Bridge" appears to run red, according to local legend. The road, off of Main Street in downtown Wauchula, was once a dirt passageway called Rhinehardt Road, which was over 100 years old.
Locals now refer to it as Bloody Bucket Road, because of the sinister legend that a slave woman from Georgia settled in the area and served as the midwife for the community. She delivered several hundred babies, locals say, and would dump the afterbirth at the bridge. However, she worried that too many babies were being born and started smothering children after she delivered them. Some say she was crazy because she was now barren, or that her children had been taken away from her while a slave. Locals say she started filling the buckets with the blood of the dead infants and continued to dump their blood in the creek under the bridge. Locals say she fell in the creek one day and drowned, and the water ran red for several days.
Not all apparitions take on human forms. Prior to be becoming infamous for the Trayvon Martin shooting, the city was known for celery production. Before 1940, a road known as Celery Avenue was lined with acres of celery fields. The eastern end of the road reportedly cuts through an Indian burial mound, according to local legend.
On the western end of Celery Road, locals claimed a giant horse weighing 3,200 pounds was buried there. Once owned by a local blacksmith named Sligh Earnest, the horse required a tractor to pull its body out of the stable to its burial pit after its death. Since that time, the road has been widened several times and the horse's grave has been covered over. For years there have been stories about the "phantom horse", galloping up and down the road. People have reported seeing the horse dart in front of their cars, a massive, translucent figure suddenly appearing from nowhere and matching the speed of their vehicles.
Lake Apopka, Fla.
Two hundred passengers who died in a train wreck supposedly haunt a one-lane road on the west side of the lake. People have reported hearing ghostly noises and people screaming in the woods nearby and seeing shadowy figures in the tree line.
Do you know of a local haunting? Let us know about it by commenting below!
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