Post by Graveyardbride on Mar 22, 2014 9:51:13 GMT -5
March 21, 1919: The Headless Motorcyclist of Elmore
A few months after World War I ended in November 1918, a young soldier returned to the United States, where he was released from active duty. One of the first things he did was purchase a brand new motorcycle and a few days later, set off for Ottawa County, Ohio, to visit his girlfriend.
He met the young lady shortly after the war began and it was love at first sight. She promised to wait for him and it was her letters that had kept him going while he was on the other side of the world looking death in the face. Of course, the demands of war had made it impossible for him to write as much as he would have liked and her letters had dwindled during the past year, but she had promised to wait for him and he knew she would be as happy to see him as he was to see her.
At first, he had decided to send his beloved a telegram to let her know he was home and on the way to Ohio, but then he decided to surprise her. He couldn’t wait to see the look on her face when he rode his motorcycle into the yard of the farmhouse where she lived.
He had hoped to arrive on the first day of spring – which was March 20 that year – because spring was the time of new beginnings, but he was delayed and it was late on the afternoon of Friday, March 21, when he sped down the highway and into the driveway of the home of the woman he loved. He bounded onto the porch, knocked loudly and hoped she was the one who opened the door. He was going to hug her so tightly her feet would come up off the floor, swing her around and ask her to be his wife.
The door opened almost instantly, but it wasn’t his bride-to-be standing in the doorway, but her mother. The older woman invited him to come through to the kitchen and sit down. She poured two cups of coffee and sat down across from him at the table. He was beginning to feel uneasy. Had something happened to the woman he loved? Was she one of thousands who got the Spanish flu or some other illness? Was this the reason her letters had been fewer and shorter during the last year?
“I don’t how to tell you this ....” the older woman began.
The lady he thought would one day be his mother-in-law had spoken for some time, but he heard only snatches of her conversation: “She didn’t know if you were coming back or not ... so many killed in the war or died of the influenza ... she got married in December.”
Those last five words were like a stab through the young man’s heart.
It was getting dark when he rushed out the door, jumped onto his motorcycle and sped out of the yard. Not caring whether he turned right or left, or where he was going, all he wanted at that moment was to feel the wind whipping his face. By the time he reached the bridge across Muddy Creek, his machine was at full speed, but even that wasn’t fast enough. Blinded by tears, he couldn’t see clearly, lost control and crashed through the railings into the water below.
When the crash occurred, his head had apparently gotten caught between the railings of the bridge because when his body was pulled from the creek the following morning, it was headless. The motorcycle was recovered at the same time, but the young man’s missing head was never found.
During the years following the tragedy, people living nearby began reporting seeing a strange light, much like the headlight of a motorcycle, on and near the bridge on March 21 every year.
The rumors spread and by the 1930s, people were driving to the bridge on the night of March 21 hoping to see the ghost light. In order to entice the spirit to appear, drivers blinked their lights, honked their horns, etc. and before long, someone discovered that blinking the headlights three times and honking the horn three times would summon the light.
Robert Gill, a student at nearby Bowling Green University, had a keen interest in the paranormal and in 1968, he and a friend decided to investigate the “Headless Motorcyclist of Elmore.” On March 21 that year, they packed a movie camera, a still camera and a tape recorder and made their way to the bridge near Elmore.
According to Gill, on the night of the investigation, they parked at the bridge, blinked the headlights three times, followed by three honks of the horn and suddenly, the light appeared near a house, moved quickly toward the bridge and vanished. Now that they knew how to make the light appear, their next experiment was to find out if the phenomenon was physical or supernatural by tying a string across the bridge. Again, they summoned the light, it appeared in the same manner, but the string was undisturbed.
Encouraged by the fact the light was not of this world, Gill’s friend agreed to stand in the middle of the bridge while Gill summoned the light. After the light made its apperance, Gill called to his friend, but there was no answer. He found the young man in a ditch with red bruising and abrasions on his body as if he had been hit by something. The friend could not recall anything that happened after seeing the light approach.
Most investigators would have packed up their equipment and gotten away from there as quickly as possible after one of them ended up knocked about in a ditch, but Gill somehow convinced his friend to participate in one more experiment. This time, they parked the car on the opposite side of the bridge and after summoning the light, began driving across the bridge. The light quickly overtook them, passed through the car, creating a blinding flash of light. This time, the two didn’t hang around for another experiment – they kept on driving.
Later when they had he film developed, the movie film was totally blank, but the photographs from the still camera had captured a bright flash of light. The tape recorder had picked up a high-pitched unidentifiable noise.
It has been almost a hundred years since the young motorcyclist lost his life on the bridge, but the light returns each March 21 and people visit the area in hopes of catching a glimpse of the headlight of the headless cyclist.
The bridge is located six miles south of Elmore on Fought Road in Ottawa County, Ohio, a half-mile from the Interstate 80 (the Ohio Turnpike).
Sources: Haunted Heritage: A Definitive Collection of North American Ghost Stories by Michael Norman and Beth Scott, Fringe Paranormal and Myths and Legends from the Road.