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Episode 31…Bloody Moons and Bloody Buckets

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Episode 31…Bloody Moons and Bloody Buckets

By the light of the Blood Moon, Natalie Crist and Christopher Balzano hit Wachula, Florida, to track down a newer legend that has been traveling the Internet lately.

Is the story of Bloody Bucket Bridge the creation of an overenthusiastic author or a real tale of murder, insanity, and blood?

They venture out to visit the bridge and test the bloody water theory while taking about the history and evolution of the myth.

Spoilers, they trace it back all the way back to its origin.

You can contact us with questions, comments, and your favorite legend or tidbit of folklore at spookytripping@gmail.com.

We’re still knee deep in the #hauntedlove project, so we’re especially looking for ghost stories with a love twist.

Feel free to call our new phone number during our lives shows to get involved or whenever just to share a legend you’ve heard to ask a question at ((813) 418-6822. 

Keep visiting the site for the trip log of our travels and other urban legends at: www.trippingonlegends.wordpress.com

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegend

Twitter: @SpookyBalzano

Instagram: @SpookyTripping

Travel Log: Witches and Murderers at Arbuckle Creek in Lorida

The only motivation more powerful than love is desperation.  Put in the wrong situation, a good man will do things he would never have contemplated.  Love may lift your heart, but desperation lowers it.  Too often the two play with each other and those soaring highs of passion can make one sink even deeper when it isn’t met by another person.   Put in a corner, what would you do?  What would you do if it was for love?

It’s unclear what brought the man to the bridge that night, but it was definitely one of the two.  He met the old woman by a full moon to purchase a love potion, but we do not know his motivation.  There may have been a specific woman he had his eye on or something more economic on his mind.  The old woman was well known by that time as someone who was well trained in mixing herbs and concurring the elements to make things happen.  No one uttered the word witch.  The people in the town were too dependent on her folk remedies and too use to consulting her to use that word, and there was nothing evil in her eye or suspicious in her actions to warrant that tag.  She was just an old woman who knew things, much like the medicine men of the Seminole who had been there before. 

Listen to the original episode where we discuss the legend..and some crazy love potions.

Episode 53…The Lost Love Potion of Arbuckle Creek

It’s odd he hadn’t asked about the price before he agreed to meet her.  It was steep.  In return for the love potion who would bring his true love into his arms, all he had to do was give her his firstborn child.  He was infuriated.  He grabbed the crone, swearing to anyone who might have heard them on that night that he would never give up his child.  In the struggle, she fell from the bridge and impaled herself on the cypress tree growing near the banks of the water.  He knew what he had done would condemn him, and who would miss the old woman anyway.   Weighing the body down with stones, he drifted the body out to the middle of the creek and let the body drop to the bottom and ran for a new town.

The next part of the story gets hazy.  Some say her ghost began to appear on the bridge, pointing to where her body lay on the bottom.   Others stories say by the time the man left town never to be seen again her body had floated back to the top, revealing his crime.  Most of the people who continue to see her don’t care which of the stories are true.  They just know she is still seen on the bridge, especially during a full moon.  It’s a story that’s been part of Arbuckle Creek long enough to outlast the town itself, and some modern reports say she may have gotten her revenge in death.  There’s more than one spirit on the bridge in Lorida, and they may still be playing out a deal gone bad seventy years later. 

When we hear a story like this, the first thing we try to do is relate it and see if the story makes sense with the area.  A story like the Mini-Lights shouts about the way the neighborhood views itself and its invaders or the story of Oak Ridge Cemetery makes sense given the setting.  This legend, while familiar in its elements, seems so isolated that there just might be something to it.  While we originally discovered the story on Haunted Places, there were enough whispers about it, and enough odd moments in the history to make it worth going out.

The town of Lorida is itself a ghost town, another victim of the train boom and its own geography.  There was obviously something odd going on there before it had been settled.  The Seminoles, trying to make their way south during their early period of migration, suffered major causalities trying to cross the lake nearby.  They ended up naming it Lake Istokpoga, which means “Lake where someone was killed in the water.”  The towns grew up around the body of water, and while those who called it home seemed to enjoy the land while they lived there, it rose and fell in less than a hundred years. 

The town was first settled in 1910 when people began to settle around the bank of the lake.  There was plenty of land to graze and open space, so roots began to be put down.  The name was changed from Cow House to Sunnyland to the Hamlet of Istokpoga.  The name stuck, but when the Acline came through and started a small settlement to coincide with their rail stop on the other side of the water, people began to get confused over which was which and mail began to get lost.  Mary Strokes, who ran the post office at the time, suggested the name Lorida.  The town found its footing in farming and cattle and grew as the trains came through and roads began to be put down.  The town itself has never become as popular or populated as some of the ones around it, with Highway 98 being the only way in and out of town.

It’s unclear how well the story of the witch is known in the town.  It feels too old to really take place during the timeline of the town.   Rich Newman in his book Haunted Bridges: Over 300 of America’s Creepiest Crossings dates the meeting at 1945, but when I followed up with him he was unable to remember when he had heard that date.  The current bridge was built in 1965, and we were unable to find any concrete evidence on when the bridge became concrete.  The legend takes an odd turn though.  According to almost all versions of the story, the witch began to be seen on the bridge not long after her death and plagued the town enough for them to try and stop her nightly appearances.  A mob formed, traveled to her shack in the swamp, and burned it to the ground hoping that would stop her.  It did not work.

That would be enough, but there are other stories that paint a more complex picture of what might be going on there.  The woman has been known to mess with people’s radios, appear on the bridge to passing cars, and float over the sight of her murder in the form of ghost lights.  However, there have been two other ghosts seen at the spot.  According to a follow-up comment on Haunted Places, and echoed a few other places online, a man and a small boy have also been seen there.  These two have been known to duck under the bridge and out of sight and play with the poles of people who try fishing there.  Could it be that the murder did indeed take the potion from the dead woman and use it?  Is he paying the price in death of he and his son being trapped on the spot of the broken deal?

Listen to our recap episode of the trip…

Episode 55…Three Ghosts, Two Trippers, and a Haunted Bridge

All of this was on my mind when I began preparing a love potion for us to use at the bridge.  After consulting longtime friend and witch extraordinaire Marla Brooks, I began cooking up a potion we would use to try and connect with the old woman whose spirit might be trapped there.  Using Marla’s advice and a combination of recipes online, I created a potion consisting of red wine, apples, salt, rosemary, and a few other ingredients that were recommended.  While I was not able to chant over the mixture while it was brewing like the directions said, I did play old 1980’s power ballads, still being slightly silly about the whole thing.  I left it out overnight during a full moon and hoped it would be enough. 

In keeping with the connecting theme, I bought three candles were fragrances consistent with conjuring spirits.  One was of lilac, another was of cherry, which also related to love and the legend, and a third which was a mix of several of the other flowers and herbs Marla’s book, and another I consulted, had talked about. 

By the time we had made it out into the field, things had changed.  Perhaps it was the effect of the potion and making it, perhaps it was consulting with Marla herself, but I was starting to see the haunting slightly different.  There is a long history of deals made with witches or deals made with the Devil for personal gain in folklore.  Rumpelstiltskin had asked for the same payment for his services. They almost all go wrong.  Our angle had been to play up the witch aspect of things, but it was more clearly a murder scene we were traveling to.  We would use these witch elements as a way to try and communicate with the spirit, making her comfortable and more willing to speak with us, but instead of spending time with the folklore on the witch side of things, we would try and talk to her and see the story from her side. 

The moon was low and bright yellow by the time we got to the bridge.  Following Marla Brook’s advice, we lit the candles and recited the incantation she gave us, changing the words slightly to match legend tripping and not investigating:

The Witch’s Circle of Protection

Have everyone stand in a circle and one person shall read this:

Guardian s of the North, Element of Earth, I call upon thee to be present during this investigation.

Guardians of the East. Element of Air, I call upon thee to be present during this investigation.

Guardians of the South, Element of Fire, I call upon thee to be present during this investigation

Guardians of the West, Element of Water, I call upon thee to be present during this investigation

This next part should be read and repeated by the participants, one line at a time.

God and goddess, Guardian Angels and Spirit Guides

Be present with us during this investigation.

Bless the circle and keep us protected

No unwanted entities are welcome here

Only pure, divine beings are invited into our space.

The circle will close on its own with the investigation is over

Spirits will return to the light

There shall be no attachments to any of those here tonight.

The Circle is now cast. So Mote It Be. (or Amen)


A small pinch of cinnamon, a petal of rose, the sweet taste of apple, that’s how the love grows. And for those who taste this potion, they shall feel that warm emotion.

We set up next to the bridge on the boat launch.  As we said the incantation, we poured the love potion around us, casting a protection circle, saving some for dumping off the bridge. 

For a location so far out in an unpopulated part of Florida later at night, the bridge was busy.  The loud moaning of the cows around us sounded like ghostly agony, like dinosaurs, and added to the creepiness of the location.  The longer we were there the more we understood an alligator was tracking us from the water.  Cars flew by, crowding the road as we tried to cross it. 

The reports of the man and boy are centered around underneath the bridge, so we explore a bit.  It was covered with graffiti and mold with the alligator close by.  We then made our way onto the bridge to try and talk to the woman and dump the remaining love potion on the bridge and into the water where she was thrown and landed. 

It’s always hard to take moments of a legend trip and say we touched the ghostly part of the story.  We do not look for evidence but often get it, but more often than that, we have only our feelings and impressions to go on.  For example, only two times during the trip did we hear nearby dogs violently bark.  The first was when we cast the protection spell and the second was before we left and I spent a few moments closer to the water talking to the woman and the two males.  It meant something at the time, but nothing solid.

Almost all of the old love potions we had explored going into the trip had made a point of talking about the power of menstrual blood as a powerful element.  As soon as we had finished the incantation, Natalie, who was at the tail end of her period, felt a very tangible change in her flow.  It normally would not have given us pause, but the timing and the connection was too on point for us to ignore.

Then there were the fireflies.  Ever since our trip to Mounds State Park where we had experienced a rash of these insects which led us to a Pukwudgie encounter, we had become aware of connections to the paranormal and to folklore.  When we had stepped into the area where we were going to cast the circle, three appeared, hovered near us, and then disappeared. 

The other odd thing happened while we were physically on the bridge dodging the speeding cars as we spilled the remaining potion.  While looking across to the other side where her body was thrown, my eyes played a trick on me.  Imagine shining a light into your eyes quickly and seeing the darkened figure of the flashlight when you close your eyes or look away.  My eyes saw a man take three large steps before stooping down to a smaller figure twenty feet away.  He looked like that kind of shadow.  I watched this happen three times before experimenting with the lights we were using to see if I could recreate it.  I couldn’t.

Lastly, we had three odd lights appear, not from the insect world.  We had established that there were three spirits at the bridge, confirmed to some degree by the fireflies earlier in the night.  At one point when I went closer to the water, three odd lights appear in pictures Natalie had taken.  Not that odd given that we had three candles lit nearby, so a camera might pick them up their reflection.  However, in a series of pictures taken seconds apart and without moving the camera, they rise up in the frame with precision.

Most folklore comes from a need.  It may be trying to explain something or trying to teach the history or an important moment to the community.  There is something you can track, which is why they are so appealing to Tripping on Legends.  We understand ourselves by understanding the story.  At Arbuckle Creek in Lorida there is not lesson to learn, no message to the town or reflection of community.  There’s a woman on a bridge and a father and son.  There are just a few ghosts and a story told to explain them.  If context building understanding, you won’t find it there, and maybe the fact you can’t means the story itself is more truth than tale. 

We’re still knee deep in the #hauntedlove project, so we’re especially looking for ghost stories with a love twist.

Keep visiting the site for the trip log of our travels and other urban legends at: www.trippingonlegends.wordpress.com. 

Now you can also call us on the all new Tripping Line at (813)418-6822.

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegends

Twitter: @SpookyBalzano

Instagram: @SpookyTripping

Episode 49…Cry Baby Lane is Banned

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Episode 49…Cry Baby Lane is Banned

There’s a movie that’s based on an urban legend that then became an urban legend which has since inspired other legends.

Confused yet? So were the Trippers when a little movie called Cry Baby Lane came across their radar. Rumor was so many parents complained upon seeing it, Nickelodeon was forced to pull it and vow never to air it again. So, of course, Christopher Balzano and Natalie Crist needed to watch it.

Watch the actual movie…


Listen in as they explore the folklore that helped developed the plot of the story and the rumors that have swirled around it for almost two decades. They also use this chance to discuss the ideas behind Cry Baby legends across the country and introduce a new Legend Trip they’ll be looking to get to; the infamous Cry Baby Ghost of Bellamy Bridge.

You can contact us with questions, comments, and your favorite legend or tidbit of folklore at spookytripping@gmail.com.

We’re still knee deep in the #hauntedlove project, so we’re especially looking for ghost stories with a love twist.

Keep visiting the site for the trip log of our travels and other urban legends at: www.trippingonlegends.wordpress.com

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegend

Twitter: @SpookyBalzano

Instagram: @SpookyTripping

Travel Log…The Bloody Bucket Bridge


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Listen to Episode 31…Bloody Moons and Bloody Buckets


It was like fate that the Blood Moon happened to fall on a night when Natalie and I were both free of kids and had just heard of an odd little legend playing itself out not too far from us. As has been the rule since the beginning of Tripping on Legends, when the signs point to to something, we throw ourselves at it, and as the tumblers fell into place on this one, I became more convinced something important was going to happen if we followed up on this legend.

The Peace River runs mostly along Route 17, which had slowly become a type of backbone for our travels for the past year. More and more we had found ourselves driving this road trying to avoid the dreaded 75 and trying to get a feel for the smaller towns in Southwest Florida. What we didn’t know was that there is a stretch of the Peace River that flows blood red on certain nights of the year, and as soon as we read the first reference to it, it became our goal to dip our buckets into one of the most elaborate bits of folklore, around for more than a hundred years, we had heard in a while.

The river is connected, even if not physically, to several of the legends in the area focusing on the power of springs and potential Fountain of Youth stories, but this was anything but that. It is said there is a stretch of the Peace River in Wauchula, Florida, that runs blood red under any full moon. Folklore logic tells you that must be even more so for a Blood Full Moon. The story also goes on to say that on those nights you can hear phantom splashing, babies cries, and on some occasions see empty buckets laid on the banks of the water fill with the tainted water.

It all is the fault of Ludmilla Clark, although she usually is not named in the story. There have also been references to her as Mary. She was a freed slave who came down from Georgia shortly after the Civil War and set up shop as a midwife for the growing town of Wauchula. She was good at her job and well respected for her work in the community, but somewhere along the line something changed. Some say she became obsessed with the overpopulation of the area, others that she saw it as her only way to strike at the heart of a people who had once enslaved her. The most convincing stories tell how delivering so many babies eventually drove her mad because she had lost children of her own, either to early death or being sold off. Either way, she began to suffer from a suspicious and growing number of stillborn children. More and more the women under her care lost their children and Ludmilla was forced to remove their remains and any evidence that a child had been born.

Ludmilla had started killing the children, and the more she got away with it, the more careless she became until the people of the town became suspicious. Child mortality was not unusual in those days, and sentimentality for the dead was dulled. Rather than burying the dead children in family or town graves, they allowed her to bury the bodies down by the river while she was disposing of the afterbirth and other indications of the tragedy. That was when the river started to become red at times, although back then only Ludmilla could see it.

She was eventually found out and lost her position in the town. This caused her to become more detached from reality. She still made her trips to the same spot, but this time she dumped empty buckets into the water. Try as she could to get it all out, the pails would fill again with bloody water and the crying voices of the children she had killed drowned out the voice of her husband telling her there was nothing in the water or in the buckets. She became obsessed, traveling to the bridge more and more often and trying to comfort the cries. It became too much and eventually she either committed suicide in the water or lost her balance, fell in the water, and died.

IMG_4702A few years later people began to hear her falling into the water every full moon, and the water in that part of the river would appear red on only those nights. Unlike her husband, other people heard the cries of unseen babies. It was around then people in the town renamed the stretch of road they knew as Rhinehart Road to Bloody Bucket Bridge and the crude bridge that ran into Main Street Bloody Bucket Bridge.

Red flags should be raised as soon as you hear this story, but it has become one of the more published stories coming out of this area of Florida. Why had she not been killed or at least thrown in jail for her crimes, especially as a black woman living in the South? Why had it taken so long to find her out? Why did the people turn her crimes into a tribute?

In Weird Florida, Charlie Carlson presents several witness to some of the cries from the woods near Bloody Bucket Bridge on nights of the full moon. It would seem several media outlets picked up the tale, including the backstory of a midwife killing children and making the water crimson with their blood.

When we went there during the Blood Moon we were hoping to see if any element of the story could be true. We were equipped with every reference we could find to the story, several buckets to get the best results, and a mindset nothing would probably happen because we already knew where the story had been born from. The street is now officially known as Griffin Road, the bridge Griffin Road Bridge, and the area which was once her dumping ground is a boat launch into the Peace River. The surrounding bank drops off quick with only large stones in the water to balance yourself to get under the bridge. The spot is anything but quiet with the continued traffic, slow but steady during our time there, and local animal life making itself known.

IMG_4718There were no cries from the darkness and no blood red water. There was no filling of buckets with blood or shadows of a woman falling into the river. The water traveling under the bridge did sometimes take on the sound of voices, like most Cry Baby Bridges, and you could see the how some of build up of mineral in the dirt and water could be confused for blood stains. The closest thing we came to ghost lights were the police lights as they pulled up on us wondering why we had left our car on the side of the road and were wandering around the boat launch at night.

One had never heard of the story before, although he listened intently as we told it. The other offered us an explanation for why the road had become known as Bloody Bucket Road, one which we had already connected to the story. “It was a tough bar. Every night there were fights…people being hauled off. People hated to work there, because every night when it closed they had to clean the floors and the wash bucket was filled with all the blood.”

20180131_230927It was the rough and tumble bar named the Big Apple at the end of the street, now just a slab of concrete overgrown with grass and covered with trucking equipment, that gave the street its sinister nickname. In fact, the more we looked at the research the more we noticed there were no witnesses to the bloody water part of the legend. The bar was eventually closed and the road went back to being Griffin Road to the locals, although a few still passed around the old name as a reminder of the good old days before the town was dry. By the turn of this century, enough people still remembered the nickname to give the stories a ring of truth.

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Listen to Episode 31…Bloody Moons and Bloody Buckets

Of course, this doesn’t account for midwife or the dead children written about by Carlson and other modern accounts.

We were able to track that down, and it’s a great example of how you should always read the fineprint. On Halloween 2003 a poster known as Cindi published a ghost story on the Web site Country Living, Country Skills entitled The Legend of Bloody Bucket Road. This is six years before the next published reference to it in Weird Florida. She explains how an old, disabled black man sitting outside the 7/11 nearby told her the story. She is brought to task in the comments of the story about how many of the physical details of the story are off until she eventually comes back with how the story is fiction and her version of how the story got its name.

The majority of people who respond to her seem to be fans of her work and understand this without being told, but enough don’t that the story takes on a life of its own. It’s unclear whether Carlson, the man who really solidifies the story, was working from Cindi’s blog or whether he was a victim of hearing someone repeat the story they had heard from someone else. Unfortunately he is no longer with us, but everyone I spoke to, including his son, say he was an honest reporter of the unknown and a respected researcher.

With a story like this it’s to understand why the backstory survives and what purpose it serves. The idea of a natural phenomenon needing to be explained, like singing rivers or ghost lights, can take part of the blame and a fear of retribution, especially on our children, for our sins is always in play. What it is instead is an example of how folklore transforms in our modern times. An old story, a blog post, a published account and a rumor becomes a haunting. Once the story is out there, the paste is not getting back in the tube, and no matter how many people point out the obvious inconsistencies in the story, someone will always be there to back it up and point out every legend has a shred of truth.