Folklore Thursday – Matheny’s Bridge

Haunting Tales of Matheny’s Bridge

by Bill Potter

Over the years I have heard and collected some of the legends and folklore concerning Matheny’s Bridge.

Matheny’s sits at the Jackson and DeKalb County-Line on the Fyffe to Macedonia Road. The current structure was built in the 1950’s and this is the second bridge to carry the name, with the first being an old steel and wood structure that was situated about a hundred yards upstream.

Columnist Bill Potter
Columnist Bill Potter

My first recollection of hearing tales of hauntings at Matheny’s Bridge is from when I was a child, and two of my great-aunts, Zelma Moore and Vesta Lee Maness, were talking about a coffin floating under the bridge on certain nights at midnight. Of course, this caught my attention pretty fast. Then, when I was a teenager, I heard stories of the bridge being haunted by a baby, who would reportedly take a bite out of a candy bar if you left the candy on the bridge and drove off for a few minutes. I don’t know if I went to school with anyone who didn’t try this at least once.

A friend of mine in high school spun a tantalizing tale about his grandfather, who was in the woods near Matheny’s Bridge when he encountered a beast that was half-man and half-goat. My friend said that his grandfather was paralyzed by the creature, who then proceeded to tell the future to the young man. Afterwards, he was released but warned that if he revealed any of the secrets which had been told to him, the beast would seek revenge on him and his family. My friend claimed his grandfather was never surprised by anything for the rest of his life.

Matheny's Bridge
Matheny’s Bridge

Rex Drain told me a story about one of his relatives crossing the original bridge in a horse-drawn wagon. Rex said his relative heard a thump in the back of the wagon and turned around to see a Hairy Ape-like creature along for the ride. He then gave the reins to his wife, while he took a 2×4 and proceeded to pummel the creature until it fell out the back of his wagon.

One night, a young man I went to High School with showed up in the Grenoble Mill parking lot with scratches all over his head. He claimed he was driving his pickup across the bridge when something flew inside the cab and attacked him. Later, on a dark night, some friends and I decided to go under the bridge and investigate, but all we found was a bag of garbage and some soiled baby diapers, on which I slipped and landed while attempting to scale the slope under the bridge.

Matheny’s Bridge may look like a utilitarian concrete crossing to the casual observer, but to the people who grew up hearing tales of the many apparitions and unworldly creatures that call it home, it’s more than just a bridge; it’s a treasure of local folklore and a haunted attraction all rolled into one.

Read more about DeKalb County History on Bill Potter’s website: Bill Potter’s History Hole.

Haunting Tales Of Matheny’s Bridge – by Columnist Bill Potter

#FolkloreThursday

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