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Description

Crybaby bridges are all over the world, but when it comes to United States, it would seem that one stands as the possible origin behind the legends. That being the Van Sant Covered Bridge here in Pennsylvania, just north of Philadelphia in Bucks County. A bridge that holds many local legends and stories that have collected over the years. 

However, with stories of phantom wails and eerie feelings when visiting the small structure; it’s no wonder that its become a sort of local legend for spooks and frights, especially for people visiting the area.

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Van Sant Covered Bridge

Let me preface this episode by saying that this specific topic is short, but a goodie. The Van Sant Covered Bridge, which is also known as the Beaver Dam Bridge, is a historic covered bridge located in Solebury Township, near New Hope in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. This is a county located north of Philadelphia county. If you can imagine the shape of PA, this location takes up most of the lower triangle point in the bottom right hand corner.

The bridge was constructed in 1875, and spans the length of 86 ft, or around 26 meters for international visitors. It was also a lattice truss bridge, which is a way of building bridges and involves a lot of diagonal beams. The Van Sant Covered Bridge remains as the last covered bridge that exists within Solebury Township. A historic location within the National Register, on my birthday, December 1st, but back in 1980.


That Is The Full Story

However, that’s all there is. Honestly, there isn’t that much info when it comes to this bridge and its history. It’s not the oldest location out there, but the architect who constructed it is unknown. As for the name, Van Sant is actually something that’s rather common throughout Bucks County. Now there are a lot of people with this name back then, most immigrating from central Europe and settling throughout the Northeast. However, it seems the naming concept comes from a man named Joshua Van Sant. Who, at the least, is associated with the Van Sant House, also located in Bucks County.

Whether or not he is also the root cause for the other locations with this name, such as the Van Sant Road, Van Sant Airport, or as we are discussing the Van Sant Covered Bridge, I am unclear. There aren’t many specifics when it comes to the resources I currently have at my disposal. So the bridge remains a bit of an enigma, at least when it comes to the mundam. Because, oh goodness, does it really begin to standout as we talk about the stories and rumors linked to it.


Ghost Stories & Rumors

When it comes to the Van Sant Covered Bridge, there is really one primary story that has made this bridge so infamous, the story that gave it the nickname, Cry Baby Bridge. However, this story has two different variants when it comes to the details. The first version of the story has a woman with a baby who was attacked and murdered several years back. Afterwards the killer is then said to have drowned the baby in the creek. When the man was eventually caught, he was charged with the murders and sentenced to death, hanging him from the rafter from within the bridge itself. 

The second version of the story, simply involves the woman and her child, sometimes having her with twins. In this story, she was unwed and had no way of supporting herself or her kid/kids. This situation drove her into desperation and shortly after giving birth she travelled to the bridge. Here, she would take her own life along with the lives of her baby or babies. With the version of the story involving the twins, she jumped off the bridge and they all drowned; while the solo child story has her only drowning the kid and then hanging herself in the bridge. 

Regardless of the story that you may come across, all seem to converge when it comes to the bridge nowadays. With stories and accounts of disembodied cries heard by those crossing the bridge. Some say that it sounded like infant whaling, while others say that they hear the cries of the mother, mourning the loss of her baby.

Evidence of Cry Baby Status

Now, when it comes to providing evidence on these stories, you’re pretty much out of luck. Newspapers and death records can’t really link things together all that well. However, it should be mentioned too, that the idea of jumping off the bridge is not possible. Again, it’s a covered bridge, it’s walled off. The only way to dive into the creek, is from the bank, which is about a 10 ft drop off. Not saying it’s not possible to drown in that area, but saying the mother jumped, maybe skewed. 

However, as mentioned earlier, the Van Sant bridge is also known as the Cry Baby bridge, again due to these stories. The interesting point though, is that this title is associated across a lot of bridges, all throughout the county and world. When it comes to Cry Baby bridge stories though here in the US, the Van Sant Covered Bridge is one of, if not the original bridge to spark that naming convention. So despite information being minimal with these stories, it is still possible that they did occur in one way or another.


Paranormal Reporting

The stories relating to the afterlife however, seems to be something that is more commonly accepted with those who visit the location. Those who go to the bridge have reported capturing images and videos of floating orbs, which is debated yet common within the paranormal community. The bridge itself gives off an eerie sensation, with people reporting the feeling of being watched or not being alone. Again, often times people report the sound of disembodied voices and cries, coming from what people believe to be either an infant or the mother from the stories. 

Investigators and visitors have reported seeing the apparition of a pale woman, seen within the covered bridge itself. She is also seen pacing back and forth near either entrance to the structure. It’s questioned if this is the mother from the stories or not, sightings are very far and few between. So the validity of these sightings is slightly debated.

The Hanging Men

Another strange story or rumor associated with the bridge, which stemmed from its own sightings and reports; involving the potential hanging of men on the bridge. Now we did mention hangings with the core stories. However, mediums have also brought up, that the bridge was used to hang criminals who committed a crime that took place on the bridge in the late 1800s. These men who were hung, are said to also haunt the bridge themselves. Possibly explaining the eerie sensations people report, or the photographs that were taken filled with orbs.




Resources

The Van Sant House | HappeningMag
Van Sant Crybaby Bridge | Atlas Obscura
The Story Of This Haunted Bridge In Pennsylvania Will Creep You Out
Weird Pennsylvania by Matt Lake




Credits

Episode 31 – The CryBaby Bridge | Van Sant Covered Bridge. Produced by Shane Cummings; Audio Editing & Research by Shane Cummings.
Intro & Outro music “Creepy Regrets” by AnMo.

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