Episode 42…The Trippers’ Haunted Agenda


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Episode 42…The Trippers’ Haunted Agenda

A few days before their big summer adventure, the Trippers get out the big board and set their agenda out.

After talking for a few about Christopher Balzano’s recent legend trip in the Myakka River State Park, he and Natalie Crist argue about the best way to go about tripping the locations picked out for their Summer18 trip.

They discuss the ghosts in Astor, DeLand, Silver Springs, and Oviedo. They also establish their first contest with the prize being a valued copy of Haunted Objects.

You can follow the trip at #TOLSummer18 and #hauntedlove.

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.

Listen to the episode…

Keep visiting the site for the trip log of our travels and other urban legends at:

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegends

Twitter: @naynaymyfriend @SpookyBalzano

Instagram: @SpookyTripping


Episode 35…A Gloomy Sunday at the Fairchild Oak

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Listen to Episode 35…A Gloomy Sunday at the Fairchild Oak


The Tripper take their first trip to Ormond Beach, Florida, and discover there might be more one the coast than just a few old Native American Stories.

They start at the infamous Fairchild Oak, which has been called at times the Death Tree, the Murder Tree, and the Suicide Tree. Christopher Balzano and Natalie Crist explore the history of the location and use the old cursed song Gloomy Sunday to try and see if the stories might be true.

You can also read more at the full travel log entry coming soon…

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

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/trippingonlegends

Twitter @naynaymyfriend @SpookyBalzano

Instagram @SpookyTripping

Travel Log…The Lady of Shiloh Cemetery in Sanford, Florida

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Listen to Episode 18…Whispers and Screams from Shiloh

Do you need to have your mysteries solved for you? The very nature of a ghost story, at least one where people believe the haunting to be real, calls for some kind of neat package for the reader to see all the moving parts and for things to make sense. We crave that, maybe because the very questions that these stories look to answer (what happens after we die, is there life after death, how to I find peace) are the ones that will allow us to settle our minds. If the story doesn’t make sense or doesn’t settle with us, we forget or change it to fill in the plot holes.

20170710_225255Yet, there’s something about those holes of an urban legend that separate it from the history we find comfort in. People might long to understand the answers to the questions they ask, but folklore and urban legend pop up and survive in a different place as well. The stories make sense and seem familiar, but there is something about not being able to get all the details straight that draw us in and keep the story rolling around in our head trying to connect the dots of it all. If we had a few more bits of information, we could crack the case open the way no one ever had before. It’s that engagement that makes the legend live.

There are no easy answers in Shiloh Cemetery in Sanford, Florida. There is a least one solid ghost there people report, which makes it easier to say the cemetery might be haunted, but that’s where any clarity ends. Who the ghost may be, why she is there, and what connection she might have to it are all up in the air. That may be why people continue to be obsessed with the faceless spirit walking among the rows.

Maybe the cemetery itself has something to do with it. Shiloh is one of five graveyards collectively known as Sanford Cemetery, the largest and most modern of which is Evergreen Municipal Cemetery which faces West 25th Street with a clean, majestic front. The resting place presents like a well-organized if generic small town spot, something you pass by without thinking too much about. In fact, if you didn’t know there was something older behind it, you would not be able to guess that behind the newer cemeteries lies two that are falling apart, highly vandalized, and lost to history for decades until recent interest has touch the community into calling for their rejuvenation
20170710_225255Go in a little further and the graves start to become more cracked and overrun with growth. Trash piles up, as if the worst of the front cemeteries has blown back to the other ones, hoping that history can be brushed away as easily. The Page-Jackson cemetery is now hailed as a crucial link to the history of African Americans in the area, including the final resting place for Drew Bundini Brown, a corner man for Muhammad Ali who helped to craft some of his most famous taunts and an unused plot for Zora Neale Hurston. The land was donated by a local man, William Page-Jackson, who was either a gravedigger or a local farmer who allowed people to be buried there for free and maintained the property. His story is another local legend that adds to the overall story of the place.

People say that after he passed away the care for the land never switched over to anyone, and it fell into disrepair. Unlike the other cemeteries that make up Evergreen, the city does not contribute to the maintenance. Many of the graves are sunken into the ground or sprayed with graffiti, and the forest has claimed most of the land back until recent times. People who volunteer to clean it up find links to the past of African Americans in the area, so there is a touch of reverence now the place has not experienced in a long time. The larger family plots sometimes look like graverobbers have had their way with it and broke the fences and barriers down on their way in.

With the increased focus on maintaining the grounds, ghost stories have made their way out of it as well. Almost all are nonspecific and mundane. People have seen shadows or heard crying at night. There is one report of a man seen looking at a headstone and then disappearing when the witness turned away for a moment. The nature and tone of the reports are so generic you have to wonder if there is anything there or people just feels there needs to be.

When looking into a ghost story, it is often the things that are different about it that make it stand out. Every cemetery is said to be haunted, which often makes the stories feel like a rationalization of an odd feeling you had. In fact, if there is a backstory, it has more to do with a historical person, or at least a person who can be researched online, and the haunting conforms to the backstory instead of standing on its own. For example, a woman is seen in white and people assume it to be the ghost of a woman buried there who died on her wedding day.

Behind Page-Jackson is yet another, even older cemetery which is in even worse shape and does not have the gravity of being an important historical location to most. This means less people know about it and even less care or visit it. It is often mentioned as the sister cemetery to Page-Jackson, to the point that even some of the ghosts seen there are said to belong to the latter and have wandered into Shiloh for some reason. When you’ve reached the back of the Page-Jackson, and after you’ve taken a few moments to think about why we would ever let our dead be treated so disrespectfully, you’ll see a dirt road that leads to something even more heartbreaking and even more frightening.

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It’s the ghost that remains the biggest mystery. She’s so unusual and her descriptions so specific that it makes sense people need to create stories to explain her. If the Page-Jackson ghosts are so generic as to be unbelievable, than the woman seen in Shiloh is real because no one would make her up. Instead of a woman in a white flowing gown, the Woman of Shiloh is dressed in dark robes which hide her body and shade her actual height. Some of the stories say you can’t see her feet so she appears to be floating. Unlike other cemetery ghosts who are searching for something or guarding it, she wanders around aimlessly, usually not even noticing the people who spot her around dusk or late at night.

Often she is seen as a ghost light, something more like a large, visible, and glowing orb (it is odd that with so much activity in both of the cemeteries, some attribute only some specific ghost lights to the Lady). What really defines her however is her long hair which is said to be flowing, as if by an invisible wind, and the fact she has no face. Instead all people report is a skull, sometimes with parts of the skin still attached but usually not. They say she is a skeleton walking around the outskirts of the cemetery and sometimes seen walking aimlessly among the graves. Locals say she may be the most reliable ghost in the state, and that if you just wait long enough you will always see her.

She is much like the cemetery itself. Her decimated face mirrors the scattered nature of the graves and her interest in walking around the border give her the feel like she is trapped and forgotten.

They have given her a story, and it is the story which both draws people in and offers some of the biggest questions. According to BackpackerVerse, a psychic made contact with the spirit a number of years ago and was able to get a bit of her history. According to the man, she was murdered by a serial killer about twenty years ago (the article in not specific about when exactly the man is speaking about) and dumped in a body of water nearby. The fish ate her face on and now she is doomed to walk Shiloh.

Gerard_Schaefer2There have been murders in the area, so the tale does not seem that far-fetched, and there are several serial killers who used this part of Florida as a hunting ground. There have even been believers (me for one) in the theory that there may have been some involvement from Gerard Schaefer, although that does not fit the “about 20 years ago” senario. One of the likely candidates may be April Marie Stone whose dead body was found by the side of the road in 1991. The young woman was found stabbed to death and wrapped in a blanket on Painted Post Road near the Wekiva River more than ten miles away. Accused serial killer William Devin Howell was thought to be responsible for her death but has never been formally charged. The primary issue with this is that Stone was known for her long red hair, all of the news reports from the time talk about it, and if the spirit in Shiloh had red hair it seems likely that detail would be offered up.

There are, of course, problems with all of this, not the least of which is that the information was given by a psychic who never got the woman’s name or her connection to that specific location. Saying someone died in a body of water is like saying someone died near an oak tree; there are just too many to make the place specific enough to use. In addition, the time frame fits into classic motifs for urban legends and folklore. Twenty years is just enough time for it to seem plausible but not specific enough to do any real research into it. That’s the beauty of the Lady of Shiloh though. There is enough information for you to hit the Internet and think you may have found who the suspect might be.

Here’s the thing though. The Lady of Shiloh is not like other ghosts, or at least she varies enough that her sightings have the feel of genuine encounters. Her half-eaten face or skeleton face is not often a detail attributed to ghost stories, and when it is the ghost is usually said to be more angry or even violent towards people. She doesn’t fit that, which leads people in the area who have not seen her to think she must be real. Perhaps the stories that have been used to flesh out her appearance are works of fiction, but there is someone there, lonely, wandering, and seemingly trapped.

When We Were There

Shiloh was a just a stopover for us, an interesting story for us to follow up on while we were on the road to the real trip. For an afterthought, it proved to be both an interesting historical site which made us feel sorry for the state of the grounds and a haunted location which provided plenty of debate but not many insights into what is happening there. In fact, with some of the other things occurrences over the next week, it was almost more as if something was following us rather than us experiencing something connected to the actual cemetery.

The broken fences and cracked headstone we saw on the way in, from both Page-Jackson and Shiloh, darkened our mood as we drove further away from the main street and nicer parts of Sanford Cemetery. It was clear by the piles of trash and natural waste that cleaning up was happening, but the sheer amount of it pointed out just how long it had been before volunteers had stepped in. Shiloh itself was open and the graves somewhat sparse, although as we got deeper in we realized this was due to some headstone no longer existing or being sunken into the ground. There also were an unusual amount of graves along the treeline of the surrounding forest, almost hidden.

From the moment we passed by Page-Jackson and into Shiloh, Natalie was uneasy. We got out of the car and she almost immediately began to hear what she described as knocking coming from the woods, a sound that would come to define other locations we were to touch along the road trip. Her unease grew as she heard inhuman noises coming from some of the plots within the cemetery. “It was a combination of movement and a nonhuman noise, like guttural. I was like get me out of there.” We ended up not staying too long, in part because of Natalie’s unease, partly because there was not much going on, and mostly because we had a long night of driving ahead of us.


The impact of where we had just been didn’t fully hit us until we were on Interstate 95. As we drove we listened to some of the 30 minutes of recordings that we made. The first one that struck us as some kind of confirmation was a deeper, angrier voice chanting water repeatedly throughout the recording. That same voice is heard saying other things, such as “I’ve got you now,” and at one point the man taunts Natalie to come into the woods and calls her Angel. There are multiple times where the voice swears at her or grunts, seemingly in reaction to something she says. It even tells her to, “Die, whore.”

Another male voice, not nearly as threatening or dark sounding at one point says to us, “We’re dead and you come here. Rude.” A younger boy also says that he has us now.

In one section of the recording there is a clear high voice which can best be described as lamenting. Although most of it can’t be understood, she at one point say, “It was the whole thing.” Later, when Natalie tries to speak to whatever might be there, she says, “Ask,” and then either, “Tell them,” or “turn around.” At one point she asks, “What do you want from me. Pushing me, ” before being interrupted by a male voice asking, “Why?”

20170710_225150At different times two different voices are talking to each other. The way they relate to each other gave me the impression of an older, more experienced man ordering another younger man around. To me, and I have no evidence of this, the masochistic and forceful nature of the older man felt like a violent offender, the kind who would assault and kill a woman, training a younger man. He gives instructions and the second man is unsure of himself and questioning.

As folklorist, we usually do not spend too much time breaking down evidence. To us the story is why we are there. These recordings paint a picture of what is happening there, adding to the oral tradition that has grow up surrounding the phantom.

There is speaking through almost all of the recording and we encourage other people to break it down, evaluate it and get back to us.

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Listen to the episode Evidence from Shiloh Cemetery in Sanford, Florida


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.

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegends

Twitter: @naynaymyfriend @SpookyBalzano

Instagram: @SpookyTripping


Episode Page Episode 16…How Pukwudgies got Wikied

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Episode 16…How Pukwudgies got Wikied

In preparation for their summer trip, Natalie Crist and Christopher
Balzano look into the origins of the Pukwudgie legend.

puk7Now one of the most popular figures in the supernatural world, Balzano goes into his early research into the legend and how it came to grow and become what it is today. They explore some of the early references before tackling some of the errors in the lore that have
twisted in recent years.


In fact, since the beginning of Tripping on Legends, the creature has been making guest appearances from time to time, from an odd story coming out of Astor, Florida, to a potential transformation into an animal in Indiana.

Watch an interview with a recent Pukwudgie experience in Indiana…



Excuse the section on Harry Potter…something unseen decided to chime in and was caught on tape.  See if you can figure out what it’s saying.

If you hear more than we do, e-mail us at spookytripping@gmail.com.

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/trippingonlegends

Twitter: @naynaymyfriend @SpookyBalzano
Instagram: @SpookyTripping


Episode 41…Suicide, Stetson, and DeLand’s Ghostly Folklore

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Listen to Episode Episode 41…Suicide, Stetson, and DeLand’s Ghostly Folklore

As the summer moves on the Haunted Love and Cursed Central Florida projects heat up. The next hot spot for Christopher Balzano and Natalie Crist to explore is the town of DeLand, Florida.

The Trippers, using some of the oral and written sources on hauntings in the area, explore several of the ghost stories from Stetson University and other locations in DeLand to try and piece together some places to visit on their upcoming Summer Trip.

They also explore and debate some of the stories from Dusty Smith’s Haunted DeLand and the Ghosts of West Volusa County.

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:

Follow us at: www.facebook.com/trippingonlegends

Twitter: @naynaymyfriend @SpookyBalzano

Instagram: @SpookyTripping

Travel Log…The Devil’s Tree in Oak Hammock Park, Port St. Lucie

The stage had been set for us to experience some of the what was being whispered about in Oak Hammock Park.  The rumors of dark figures, odd noises and cries, and mysterious visions had us on edge. We were hoping that such an active and well known area, coupled with the number of people we hoped were using the park for recreation, would provide us with interviews and information on the Devil’s Tree.  



Click to read a detailed account of the legends at the Devil’s Tree and the story of Gerard Schaefer.


The weirdness began before we had even left the house though.  The night before, as we were going over the game plan on how to trip the site, we had gotten into a discussion of a Spooky Southcoast guest named George Case and his recent appearance on the show.  That led to us discussing the idea of backwards lyric in the song Stairway to Heaven and how Led Zepplin had been accused of making a pact with the Devil for success and riches. As we sat and ate our breakfast in a local diner, the song came on.  One of the driving forces of our adventures has always been following the signs, and this was definitely a sign that things were going to get interesting.

Oak Hammock Park is buried in a residential neighborhood and seems to come out of nowhere.  It would be hard to find if someone didn’t tell you it was there.

Natalie decided, out of necessity, to explore the first part of the legend.  It was safe to say she encountered no spirits in the ladies’ bathroom, where the ghost of the two dead hitchhikers are said to haunt people by banging and scratching on doors or being seen in the mirrors.  

We spent the next hour in the wrong area of the park carefully scrutinizing each oak we came across.  As we walked, we discovered a rock painted with the odd symbol of an eye. Having dealt with markers and symbols of cults who use woods like these, an idea that has been rumored to also happen in this park, my mind automatically thought this had been left by someone to mark a path to the tree.  I was ultimately proven wrong. The park, like many others in the country, was having a special “egg-hunt” type activity where local artists painted rocks and left them behind for people to find and share on social media.

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We eventually decided to shift gears, retrace our steps, and reenter the park from a new location with the hopes of following the directions to get to it.  As we walked by a set of swings and slides, we heard a little kid talking to a woman and her baby about the Devil’s Tree. He was trying to get the woman to go out with him to the woods to visit it.  We looked at each other and approached them. Both the woman and the young boy had heard the stories, and the boy, who we learned was named Christopher, eagerly offered to take us out and show us where it was.


Our guide walked through the woods, more concerned with the killer’s supposed house than the actual tree.  He shared with us several stories, mostly concerned with the house, and confirmed our theory that everyone in the area had heard the stories and knew the part as being a dark and haunted place.  We finally came upon it and immediately understood why the tree could be a target for urban legend.


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It’s thick trunk is scarred with burn marks and knots that mark where people have tried to cut it.  The tree was also cut up with designs, some of them common in occult practices. Over time, someone had filled in parts of the tree with cement, as if they were trying to practice that old wive’s tale of helping a tree grow by cutting out rot and filling it in.  It reminded us in retrospect of some of the fairy holes we discovered connected with some of the locations we explored in Indiana and which are often associated with Pukwudgies.


The branches themselves are a collection of mangled arms and fingers, most pointing down instead of up towards the light.  Someone coming upon the tree might mistake it for some kind of natural accident and be overtaken by how twisted and mutilated the whole scene appeared.  We were also struck by how many of the ends of the branches looked like devil’s horns.


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Christopher quickly took us to the foundations in the wood.  Before we had gotten to the location we had read nothing about possible houses in the woods nearby, but here was a collection of abandoned blocks of cement and twisted iron.  Some had the appearance of stairs while others were laid out as foundations. Others were at least three feet high. We tried to research several times what the buildings had been but have been unsuccessful.  The best theories are that the buildings might have been associated with Victory Forge Military Academy and Southeastern Military Academy or a failed development from the Atlantic Gulf Communities Corporation.


One of the odd elements of the forest was several locations near the Devil’s Tree that had circles often associated with cult activity and the remains of bird feathers nearby.


We talked to several other people who came across us as we circled the tree.  Most had heard of it before, although none of them had specific stories to share.  Christopher eventually left us to meet up with his friends, and Natalie went off to make sure he got to them safely.  I took the opportunity to put down the camera and recorder and sit against the tree to see if anything would happen. While nothing too dramatic happened, the recorder did pick up some voices and I had an uneasy feeling the entire time.

Much of what follows can be considered to be coincidence or some kind of cognitive bias.  How many odd things have to happen before you start to admit to yourself something unexplained is going on.  As people who who try and catch the tail of an unseen tiger, Natalie and I tend to make more leaps than I would have in my investigator days.



Deciding to go against one of our rules and jump into one of the legends, we took a part of the bark with us.  This would prove to be a mistake. We soon left, and as soon as we got back into the car, we instantly had car trouble.  As we made our way to Cassadaga to look into some of the stories there, night seemed to come out of nowhere and we decided to stop for the night.  We called ahead and no place was open. We made our way to the Orlando area, which is considered Hotel Capital of the World. There was no room at the inn.  There was something moving us on and forcing us to leave the area.


We eventually decided to make the three hour drive home despite the late hour.  As the car continued to clank and sputter, we stopped to refuel. I decided to get rid of the bark, slightly superstitious and eager to get rid of any bad vibes.  I reached out to throw the piece of wood away and it literally jumped from my hand into the garbage.

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Listen to Episode 8…Tripping the Devil’s Tree


We started on the road home downing coffee and singing to make sure we stayed awake.  Natalie decided to nap, but her sleep was disturbed. As she tried to doze, she kept hearing an old time phone ringing.  Not a cell phone with a funky ring, which neither of us have, but an old phone ringing. It happened for most of the car ride home, but it was not until the next morning I explained to her that a phone ringing was one of the first signs of oppression, leading to possession.


Odd dreams kept us both from getting a good night’s sleep.  Natalie spent most of the night hearing whispers and what sounded like a flute, to the point she asked me to turn the radio off.  Not only did I not have a radio on, but the flute as she explained it sounded more like a pan flute. Pan has a deep connection to our current idea of the Devil.

It’s difficult to say in any solid way that there is something to the stories that are coming from the Devil’s Tree.  For a few decades it has captured the imagination of the community, the dark figures like burn marks against the tree.  The legend of the hauntings there, true or not, and the mystique surrounding Gerard Schaefer will form the ideas we have of the park and the tree that continues to grow on the outskirts.  The Devil may not have made his way to Florida, but Port St. Lucie and anyone who follows the canal and the path to the Devil’s Tree knows there is something sinister there, watching and waiting to make itself known.   

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.