Haunted Grand Rapids: The Legend Of Hell’s Bridge [Video]
Spanning Cedar Creek, a tributary of the Rogue River, near Rockford, Hell's Bridge lies far off the beaten path. Other worldly screams are often heard, and people floating down the nearby Rogue on inner tubes have felt hands trying to pull them under.
Is it haunted?
If you grew up in Northern Kent County, someone probably dragged you off to Hell's Bridge, which is located off of Friske Road NE in Algoma Township.
The short hike from the road to the bridge is unassuming, and the bridge itself is a simple, steel footbridge which crosses Cedar Creek, a mere 18 inches off the surface of the water. The scariest thing about it is that it has no hand rails, and crossing the creek without getting wet requires balance and dexerity.
But it was allegedly what happened in these woods near this spot over a hundred years earlier that drives the legend. The story goes that a man named Elias Friske murdered several children near the Rogue River, and then was hung off a bridge that existed in the same spot as the current bridge. Friske claimed he was driven by the devil to commit the crimes, and it is said that his ghost and the ghosts of his young victims haunt the area surrounding the bridge.
Called one of the ten creepiest bridges in the country, and one of the 13 most haunted bridges in the country, the apparitions take on several forms according to an article in MysteriousHeartland.com.
Visitors report encountering unexplained temperature drops, seeing a misty figure, or hearing the sound of children crying and splashing in the water. Also, if you stand on the bridge at midnight, you will supposedly hear the Devil scream in triumph.
The story is flawed at best. The spot where the bridge crosses the creek is hardly a spot where a bigger structure could have existed, let alone one tall enough to hang a man off of. Many explain these facts away by saying he was hung from a tree near the bridge, or that the actual bridge was a few miles away from the current location.
There is no record that I could find of a man named Elias Friske having existed or being tried for murder or even being murdered himself in the years floated for the legend.
As of September of this year, Elias has his own Twitter feed, in which 'the ghost' posts random creepy things. The photo used for the feed is of a guy named Elias Mason, who was from Wisconsin and was known for the craftsmanship of his beautiful log cabin, and not for murdering people.
When first arrived to the bridge I heard some noises that sounded like someone gasping for breath. I seen a white shadow so we walked across the bridge to the other side to investigate. So we walked south on the other side of the bridge and felt heaviness and goosebumps. This occurred by two trees that were smaller/medium compared to the tree that you first see when you approach the bridge. So we then took pictures and there were mist in the pictures. There was no orbis. You could feel the energies in your body. We decided to go back across the bridge to the right where there is a bank. There was foam and broken trees. Nothing in this spot. We went back toward the bridge and crossed it. When we got across it this time to the right of us was a strong presence.
These videos posted to YouTube a few years ago claim they offer proof of some other worldly activites, but the skeptic in me has a hard time swallowing any of this.
My conclusion? Scary stories concocted by teenagers to scare their friends do not a haunting make, but if you're in the woods this time of year, creepy things do happen.
At the very least, the story inspired a young adult novel about the bridge, written by local author Russell Slater. 'Algoma Ghost' is available online and looks like a good read for a scary fall night.