Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Haunted Eunice Williams Bridge, Greenfield, MA

Eunice Williams Bridge
It looks peaceful enough now -- a secluded spot by a water pumping station, a bridge crossing the placid Green River, a favorite fishing spot for the locals -- but this bridge has a history. And a ghost.

In the dark of leap day, 1704, a group of French and Indian raiders attacked the settlement of Deerfield, Massachusetts in what has become known as the Deerfield Massacre. The raiders force-marched the settlers 300 miles to Canada. Anyone who couldn't keep up was instantly killed.

That was the fate of Eunice Williams, who, having just given birth hours before, collapsed as she tried to cross the river. She was instantly killed by a tomahawk to the back of her neck while her husband, John Williams, the reverend of the town, and their children watched. The family survived the trip to Canada and were eventually allowed to return to the States. Their daughter, also named Eunice, refused to return, though, and married into the tribe of Indians that had kidnapped them.

It is said that if you drive into the bridge on a moonless night, shut off your headlights and beep once on the horn, the ghost of Eunice Williams will appear and beg for the baby that was torn from her as she lay bleeding to death in the river. Follow those links to read more about this haunted bridge.

Eunice Williams Bridge
Though actually, this bridge isn't really that old. It was built in 1974, replacing an earlier bridge. If there'd been a bridge here back in 1704 when the Indians were forcing prisoners across the river, maybe Eunice Williams would have survived.

Last year's Hurricane Irene severely damaged the bridge, knocking it off its abutments and erasing much of the near bank. It was already closed to traffic and being pounded by a storm and a torrential, overflowing river did it no favors. The town of Greenfield decided to restore the bridge. It's been placed back on the abutments (the Google Maps "satellite" view currently shows the bridge in the river, off the abutments, by the way) and the road is being reconstructed.

The bridge is closed to both car and foot traffic, but someone (not me) has bent the fence back on the other side enough so that an enterprising tourist can crawl through it.

But if you do visit, do it during the day. When the night is dark and the moon is out of the sky, who knows what ghost a chance sound might summon?

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