NEAR VALLEY CENTER, KANSAS
There is a small town, located just north of Wichita, called Valley Center. Several miles outside of town, along and old country road is a plain and forgettable concrete bridge. While the bridge has an official name it is known more commonly in the area as Theorosa's Bridge. To many of our readers, this story of the bridge will be common one -- as story that we often refer to as a "Crybaby Bridge" -- but the reported phenomena here, as in so many other cases, appears to be so credible that it becomes hard to separate the fiction from the fact.
So, I will let you decide for yourself.
There have been a number of stories circulating over the years which attempt to chronicle the events of this bridge. The oldest setting for the story in Kansas in the late 1800's when settlers were passing through the area. According to one story, a wagon train was passing through when Indians attacked and a settler's baby, named Theorosa, was stolen. Her mother, grief-stricken, left the wagon train to search for her daughter. Legend has it that her ghost still roams the creek near the site of the bridge, her mournful voice still crying out.... "Theorosa".
Another story has Theorosa as the main character. In this version, she is a young woman who has an illegitimate baby and to hide her shame, she throws the baby into a nearby and drowns it. Then, overcome by guilt, she also drowns herself. In another close version, Theorosa is standing on the banks of the creek when she is stabbed by the baby's father. The baby falls into the water and is carried away and Theorosa dies a short time later, then returns to haunt the creek, searching for the lost child.
A more contemporary version of the story has Theorosa as a local farm wife who has an illegitimate child and who throws the baby from the bridge. She follows the child into the river and then returns to haunt the place. The story also maintains that those who stand on the bridge and speak aloud that they are Theorosa's child will be attacked by the ghost as she rushes up from the river and tries to throw the person into the water below.
Regardless of how the bridge came to be haunted, many people will assure you that it is certainly a ghostly place. There have been many reports over the years of eerie shapes, an apparition of a woman, floating balls of light, autos which mysteriously stall, cold breezes from nowhere, mournful voices in the darkness.... and of course, the sound of a baby crying on the wind.
The original wood and iron bridge, which spanned the river for decades, burned down in 1974, was rebuilt, and then burned again two years later. The bridge was closed for nearly fifteen years but this never stopped the stories and encounters from being told. The bridge became a popular site, as many haunted places do, for parties and gatherings of teenagers... all hoping to experience the phantom. And if you believe the tales... many of them did!
In 1991, the road was opened again a concrete bridge was built to span the river. Stories continue to be told of Theorosa's ghost shaking cars, pushing them off the bridge and frightening those who dare to enter her domain. Are the stories really genuine? Many people who live in the Wichita area believe they are -- but who really knows?
As with any haunted place that is open to the public, visitors are encouraged to visit the place for themselves. However, if you do, we implore you to treat the site with respect. Theorosa's Bridge was once a beautiful and scenic location that is now covered in graffiti and garbage that has been left behind by ignorant vandals and trespassers. If you do visit the area, we hope that you will leave nothing behind and if you get a chance, bring along a garbage bag when you come and maybe pick up a little of what some idiot's have left behind. If everyone can do a small part, perhaps we can restore some dignity to what was once both a beautiful and mysterious spot.
Valley Center, Kansas is located just northwest of Wichita in the central region of the state. Theorosa's Bridge can be found a few miles outside of town.
© Copyright 2003 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.
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