ghosts of the prairie

Elmore, Ohio

Many ghost hunters will often speak bravely of confronting a ghost but often find excuses as to why they cannot... but perhaps one of the bravest ghost hunters that I have ever come across was a man named Richard Gill, who attempted to track down the phantom motorcyclist of Elmore, Ohio in 1968.

This motorcyclist is linked to a ghost light that has been said to appear on March 21 every year in a small town called Elmore, Ohio. The story claims that this rider met an untimely death shortly after World War I. He had been mustered out of the army and with his pay, bought a brand new motorcycle. He came home to Elmore in hopes of seeing his best girl, whom he had not seen in some time. When he arrived at her family's farm, he learned that she had become engaged to another man. Angry and hurt, he roared off on the motorcycle. A few yards from the girl's driveway, the road curved and crossed a bridge. Somehow, the young soldier lost control of the bike and crashed into a ravine. His body and motorcycle were later found in pieces... the bike had been torn apart and the young man had been decapitated.

Every year after, on the anniversary of the young man's death, visitors who stood on the bridge reported seeing the light of the motorcycle as it left the farm, rounded the curve and then vanished halfway across the bridge.

Richard Gill was a student at nearby Bowling Green University and had an avid interest in the paranormal. As March 21 neared, he and a friend decided to stake out the haunted bridge. They brought along a movie camera, a still camera and a tape recorder. They parked their car on the far side of the bridge and then followed the procedure that, legend had it, caused the ghost light to appear. He blinked his car lights three times and then honked his horn three times. Suddenly, the light appeared near the farm house and flew toward the bridge, where it vanished.

Excited now, they repeated the experiment, this time crossing the bridge with a string. This way, they would learn if it was a physical object that crossed the bridge rather than a supernatural one. They repeated the summoning procedure and the light appeared again, following the same course. The string remained where they had left it!

Now it was time for the next step... one of them would stand in the middle of the bridge as the light approached. The light appeared again and Gill was puzzled when his friend did not return to the car. He went to check on him and found him in a ditch by the side of the road... badly beaten! He had not idea what had hit him and recalled nothing other than watching the light approach.

Somehow, Gill convinced his friend to try one last experiment. They parked on the same side of the bridge from the direction the light came from and pointed their car in the opposite direction. This time after summoning the light, they started moving away from it. The light overtook them, passed through the car and vanished.... and Gill and his friend kept right on driving!

What did the cameras and recorder pick up? The movie film was totally blank, the still camera picked up only a light source and the recorder picked up some sort of high-pitched noise. Was it the ghost light? there was no way to tell.

In the years that have followed, the ghost light continues to return to the bridge. Is the phenomena really caused by the ghost of an dead motorcyclist... or is he a convenient legend like the decapitated railroad men who haunt crossings where ghost lights are seen? No one really knows for sure, but on March 21, you can bet that there will be people on the Elmore bridge who hope to find out!

Elmore, Ohio is located about fifteen miles southeast of Toledo along Highway 51. The bridge where the light appears is across the middle branch of the Portage River east of the town.

Copyright 2002 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

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