Screaming Bridge Arlington Texas

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Comments (7)

Reid Rogers on November 17, 2010

All pictures from this photo shoot available here;

NguyenThang on April 21, 2011

hi Reid Roger.very interesting imformation about this know the story of the past...thanks and hope to see more new picture...

Reid Rogers on August 30, 2011

Screaming Bridge Arlington Texas

by Reid Rogers

The site of a prominent urban myth in Arlington, Texas, screaming bridge has been visited by many locals over the decades. From the curious out having fun to paranormal investigators, the story draws many in search of their own screaming bridge experience. Trying to hear the screams of the departed has been a ritual of passage for many Arlington teenagers.

The legend is bound up in actual events of 1961 and possibly blended with another multi-vehicle wreck in the mid to late 1970’s that resulted in multiple casualties. As there is no longer an actual bridge at the true location of the 1961 accident, the story attached itself to another nearby bridge spanning the Trinity River near River Legacy Park in Arlington.

Paranormal investigators have chronicled the search for spirits at the site while others have offered tours of cemeteries and nearby landmarks. Every new generation of local youth are exposed to the legend and many seek to hear “the screams of the girls” for themselves.

On the night of February 4th, 1961 a car filled with six Arlington teenage girls plunged off a burned out wooden bridge on Arlington-Bedford Road (also known as Bedford Arlington Road and eventually renamed Greenbelt Rd). The destroyed bridge had spanned a large deep drainage ditch (mistakenly reported to be a creek in newspaper articles) running parallel with the elevated railroad tracks now located within North Arlington.

Six Arlington High School coeds were out joyriding after leaving a movie that evening. As their car approached the crossing at approximately 45 mph, the incline of Arlington-Bedford Rd. and darkness prevented the driver from seeing the ravine until it was too late. At 9:30 pm their car left the road, and impacted the other side of the 40’ ravine (which sloped up to the old Rock Island Railroad track). Instantly killed were Mary Lou Goldner, 16, and Claudie Jean Reeves, 17. Around 2am Sunday morning Kathy Fleming died at Baylor Hospital bringing total fatalities to three. Injured were Donna Post, Dorothy Ibsen, and Jo Ann Anderson with multiple fractures (arms, jaws) and concussions. Jo Ann Anderson remained in critical condition after undergoing emergency brain surgery that Sunday morning.

Newspaper articles published on Monday, February 6th (headlined “Death Bridge Involved in Probe”) reveal that another youth, Bill Young, had slowed for a train crossing the road on the other side of the drainage ditch and seeing the bridge was gone, managed to stop just three feet shy of the ravine. He narrowly missed plunging off the road himself and tried to warn the girls’ vehicle by honking his horn while backing up. It is thought his warning may have frightened the driver into speeding up to pass his vehicle, contributing to their speed when they left the road.

Six ambulances rushed the victims to Arlington Memorial Hospital where they received emergency care before being transferred to Baylor Hospital in Dallas. Since none of the girls were carrying id, police and medical workers only learned their identities when Dorothy Ibsen regained consciousness long enough to give her parents names and name of the other girls in the car.

County Fire Marshal Mason Lankford began an investigation that confirmed his suspicions of arson. Best possibilities according to Fire Marshal Lankford and Euless police chief W. M. Sustaire were either “young vandals” or “hobos”.

It was not the first time the bridge had been burned suffering several previous incidents of vandalism prior to the 1961 burning.

The destruction of the wooden bridge occurred on the night of January 27th. Authorities had again positioned barricades on both approaches to the railroad tracks and drainage ditch with reflectors on them as well as road flares (smudge pots) which kept being extinguished or stolen. Investigators discovered those barricades been moved or otherwise tampered with as well. After the accident a second set of wooden barriers was added, each located a half mile from the crossing.

Although the location had already earned the name “Death Crossing” from earlier auto and train wrecks in the previous decades, Arlington Police Chief Ott Cribbs said the triple fatality had no parallels in Arlington history.

Newspaper articles detailed the funeral arrangements as well as the impact upon friends and fellow students at Arlington High School. The father of one of the girls who survived (Donna Post) was interviewed in a subsequent article expressing no malice toward those eventually connected with the burned bridge. This was the first news account that detailed Marilou Goldner was the driver. One of the girls had never been down the undulating road and her friends were letting her experience the wavy road at speed before returning home from the movies.

Ironically one of the girls who perished, Claudia Reeves was the daughter of a highway patrolman and investigating officers suspended their work to attend her funeral. Upon returning to their inquiry they were able to determine the identities of those responsible for burning the bridge.

Four Arlington High School boys, Clinton Veres, Tracy Stanley, Ronald Max Moore, and Richard Truett Rivers were indicted and brought before a Grand Jury which declined to bring charges as reported on February 17th.

The boy’s attorneys, Ronald Aultman and Byron Matthews, said their clients were driving on Arlington-Bedford road on Jan 27th 1961 (a night of heavy snowfall) when they stopped at the bridge over the drainage ditch. One suggested setting fire to the bridge; some say in order to impede the travel of the predominantly black community of Mosier Valley into north Arlington.

“They found some straw, lighted a match, stuck it to the straw and drove away” said Matthews.

“It was just a prank: I don’t think there was any malice in their hearts,” Matthews said. “They are just young boys and didn’t think.”

After testimony from the boys, parents, and “leading citizens of Arlington” defining them as “good students and religious” the jury foreman declared their actions to be childish pranks and wished to give the boys (who had withdrawn from school before the hearing) a “new chance in life”. The grand jury asked the Tarrant County Commissioners Court to post rewards for information on the removal of the barricades from the bridge prior to the accident, which had occurred numerous times.

Further investigations never revealed who was responsible for removing the barricades and road flares from the burned out bridge. No one ever stepped forward with information and the reward was never claimed.

The wooden bridge was not replaced. Remnants of the bridge were bulldozed and then covered with large concrete drainage tunnels. These were covered in asphalt up to the level of the original span and this served to span the drainage ditch until another fatal accident involving two women and a train at the crossing.

On March 10 1994 Rayelynn Jonston, and Tammy Lynn Dodson tried to outrace an oncoming train which impacted the passenger side of their truck. One of the occupants was knocked out of the vehicle while the other remained trapped in the burning vehicle. Both women died at the scene of the accident.

After the 1994 accident this stretch of what was now known as Greenbelt Rd. was closed to all traffic. Prior to its closing, the myth of Screaming Bridge had moved to a nearby bridge spanning the Trinity River at the end of an abandoned road (Trammel Davis) which parallels, then crosses the river.

This closed and barricaded bridge has been featured in some stories and online videos as being the location of Screaming Bridge. It lends itself to investigations due to still existing as a bridge and may have been the site of a multi fatality accident in the 1970’s (under investigation at present time) but it is not the location of the original screaming bridge.

Recent construction and expansion of Trinity Blvd has obliterate much of the original road but the closed off section leading to the original site of “screaming bridge” remains. No traffic travels this stretch of declining pavement previously known as “death crossing” and more recently as “screaming bridge” but this isolated location in Arlington Texas continues to fire the imagination and draw the curious to this infamous North Texas location.

NguyenThang on August 31, 2011

Hi Reid Rorger good to see you back to Pano,and thanks for more detail of this story,wish you well.see you

grannyjack on November 15, 2011

I know Dorothy Ibsen. This is the most accurate accounting of the story I've ever seen. The picture of the site is exactly right. I did complete research about the story years ago and donated the notebook to the Arlington Public Library. Don't know if it's still there or not.

Sky_tennant on March 24, 2013

Reid, their is a bridge at the site of the original screaming bridge, the original wooden bridge has just had concrete poured over it. I was on it last night looking around and learning more about it. But just here to say that there is still a bridge but it dead ends before you reach the tracks.

Reid Rogers on March 25, 2013

Sky_tennant, correct. The old burned out wooden bridge was not replaced with wood. After laying concrete drainage pipe to allow the creek to flow, that ramp up to the tracks was restored with dirt, asphalt, and concrete. That bridge/ ramp up to the tracks is still there. You can see pictures of it in my photos. Thanks for getting in touch!

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on November 17, 2010
  • Attribution-No Derivative Works
    by Reid Rogers
    • Taken on 2010/05/09 14:30:20
    • Exposure: 0.002s (1/500)
    • Focal Length: 6.30mm
    • F/Stop: f/2.800
    • ISO Speed: ISO80
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash