There are a few bridges around Kingsmouth. Covered bridges are becoming a rarity, even though there were at least 12,000 covered bridges in the United states over it’s colonization and beyond. The covered bridges serve mostly one purpose, to protect the structure of the bridge itself from the elements. This however, does not exclude what they do to our imagination.
There are many stories surrounding covered bridges, and the ones in Kingsmouth are no exception. Stories of suicides, unnatural and supernatural happenings…the tales span the gambit. They have an aura about them, a mystique that makes us feel connected to the past. They have a character about them, even if they are just made of wooden beams and nails. Something sets them apart and they absorb the energy of the area.
The Langmore Bridge on the northern side of Kingsmouth has an interesting history, enriched by the local’s stories. Even the placard at the bridge’s entryway bodes of a dark past. Impressed on it’s patina’d metal surface reads “Langmore Bridge: Dedicated to the works of Kingsmouth mayor John Langmore, and to Law Justice and Reparation.” With a subtle, but ominous subsection. “May the unquiet dead of the ‘Hangman’s Span’ accept the lot passed to them in this life and proceed to the next without sin.” [pictured below] A little delving into the Kingsmouth archives provided a lot more interesting history on this strange place that used to be called Hangman’s Span.
According to the town archives, John Langmore was one of the original members of Kingsmouth and had a bit of a liking for ‘justice’. Unfortunately justice in this case was anything but. Many people were hanged during his tyrannical leadership, most over the ‘Hangman’s Span’. Paranormal researchers have several theories on ghosts, and this might play a part in the strange saying on the plaque that ominously adorns the entrance and exit of the covered bridge. Most researchers believe that most of the spirits that ‘hang around’ our world either had unfinished business, or were wronged in a major way.
The fact that John Langmore killed so many people, most were presumed innocent by modern historians, could be a cause to the rise in spirit activity around the bridge. The cold hard fact is, John Langmore may have cursed that area by executing innocent people. Any time innocent people are murdered, strange things happen. Strange stories arise.
Local legends boast of ghosts that haunt the bridge and Hangman’s Span. Certain times are noted as favored for ghostly activity. Usually Halloween is mentioned, or 3 AM. Some say there isn’t really a specific time or day that causes the most hauntings but if people are ‘open’ to the spirits. Either case, this called for further investigation.
Hangman’s Span gave me the shivers when I first truly paid attention to it’s foreboding look. The wood is weathered, and it is a tall covered bridge. It is substantial in almost every sense of the word. The air seemed heavy as if weighed down by all the events that had transpired in that particular area of Kingsmouth, most at the bidding of the Mayor John Langmore during the town’s early years.
How many victims exactly were there? It’s hard to put an exact number during that time, records were expunged and cleaned up to look nicer and nobody had live tweeting. We can however solemnly acknowledge that there were in fact enough to cause a bridge to have a plaque begging spirits to move on to the next world instead of haunting that specific location.
During the day I seemed to have a solid resolve to look into the hauntings. I had control. Why should I be scared of a bit of vapor? A wisp of white floating across an old manky bridge? No worries. Things seemed a bit more intense once the sun went down. I waited by the base of the span during sunset. Nothing was incredibly noticeable at first, just a strange feeling I had before I walked up the hill to the entrance to one side of the bridge.
I’m not out of shape but the hill caused me to breathe a little heavier than I liked. The autumn air filling my lungs with a crispness that seemed to remind me that I was alive. I ran my fingers over the plaque, the message cutting deep into my mind. These ghosts might be angry. It would be justified, but they might not realize that I am not John Langmore or part of the people who ended their life so abruptly. I’ve never been religious. I’ve never crossed my chest or kissed a memento when I was nervous. Ghosts…feel different. They’re harder to rationalize in my mind even though I’ve seen them before.
I waited as it got darker and darker. I clicked the switch on my lantern. The wood around me was illuminated, showing it’s age quite clearly. Walking forward you could hear it creak, feel the wooden boards shift beneath. A light fog began to manifest, covering the floor of the bridge and the span below. It was almost as if the fog were made of figures, writhing and pushing around each other. A strange sight indeed. The light caught the movements as if the fog itself were an entity, but it wasn’t. After a few moments what seemed to be a tentative spirit came out of the fog, holding onto the side of the covered Langmore Bridge.
The spirit looked to be no more than 16 or 17, and male. I walked closer, the spirit seemed more scared of me, using one of the wooden support beams to hide half of his face. He had a dark purple ligature mark around his neck and dark black eyes that seemed to watch my every move. This wasn’t a residual haunt, a spirit that replays part of their life over and over. This was a spirit who was aware of the current surroundings. I almost felt bad. I did feel bad.
A victim of Langmore, cursed to this location for eternity. I got closer, the spirit became visibly uncomfortable with my proximity. He let out a strange hiss, as if air were escaping a popped tire and then retreated into the fog. I was uninjured, and I believe the warning hiss was more of an ingrained reaction rather than trying to scare me. I watched for a few more hours, hoping something else would show up. I was out of luck, the fog began to slowly fade away, blown by the soft breeze of the span and birds began to make noise as the sun rose. My window was over it seemed. Langmore had won. His victims are still cursed. May he face the same fate as the poor people of early Kingsmouth history.
Wynn Gwynn is an Illustrator, Editor and Writer of Tuppenny Dreadful, a media company in Darkside of Ealdwic London- Shades District.