|Source: Twin Cities Pioneer Press|
Of all the haunted locations throughout Minneapolis, the one I find most interesting is the Washington Avenue Bridge. Built in 1965 to replace an older bridge from 1884, the Washington Avenue Bridge crosses the Mississippi River, connecting the east and the west sides of the University of Minnesota campus. The bridge is unique in that its a double-decker; the top deck is a pedestrian and cyclist pathway, while the bottom deck is reserved for cars and the METRO Green Line light rail system.
Unfortunately, over the its years of operation, the Washington Avenue Bridge has become what locals call a suicide hot spot. On January 7, 1972, John Berryman, a poet and university professor, possibly became the first to take his own life on the bridge when he jumped to his death, landing on the west bank of the river. Berryman had suffered from years of depression and alcoholism. A recent religious conversion wasn't enough to stop him from taking the plunge off the bridge that winter morning.
Following Berryman were at least half a dozen more, including a young male university student who allegedly wrapped himself up in his comic book collection before taking the fatal jump. It seems that any place so entwined with emotional and tragic tales of death must naturally gain a haunted reputation, and that's true of the Washington Avenue Bridge.
|Pedestrian Level Source: 123RF|
Pedestrians traversing the top deck of the bridge have reported hearing phantom footsteps coming up behind them. A feeling of being watched by an unseen presence lurking in the shadows is also often reported. In one alleged encounter, a pedestrian claimed that the figure of a man was seen coming towards him, but the figure vanished before the startled witness' eyes. Cold spots are another ghostly phenomenon linked to the bridge, despite the fact that heaters (while often not working or not working properly) have been installed in the pedestrian walkway areas.
The Washington Avenue Bridge is a unique pathway connecting the University of Minnesota campus, but it has seen more than it's fair share of tragedy over the nearly 50 years since it was built. If you find yourself walking, biking, or just simply driving across it one day, remember to keep those who lost their lives below you in your thoughts. And keep your eyes and ears open---you might just meet a ghost!
Sparber, Max. "Haunted Twin Cities: The Washington Avenue Bridge." MinnPost 24 October 2011