Uncovering a haunted legend: The Purple Head Bridge

If you're looking for a scare this Halloween... take a trip to Vincennes, Indiana. There you'll find the Wabash Cannonball Bridge or as some call it, the Purple Head Bridge. News 10's Jordan Kudisch and Photojournalist Devan Ridgway took a trip to uncover the truth about the folklore legend.

Posted: Oct 30, 2020 9:54 AM

VINCENNES, Ind. (WTHI)- If you're looking for a scare this Halloween... take a trip to Vincennes, Indiana.

There you'll find the Wabash Cannonball Bridge or as some call it... the Purple Head Bridge.

It looks like a normal bridge but if you go right at midnight, you may see much more.

News 10's Jordan Kudisch and Photojournalist Devan Ridgway took a trip to uncover the truth about the folklore legend.

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Years of history... tucked away in Indiana. It's an attraction people come to visit from all over.

At first glance, you'll see an old bridge.

"It's very, very long. It's 1,441 feet long and as you're driving across the bridge makes all kinds of ominous and creaking and cracking noises," said Richard Day, a local historian.

The bridge sits between Vincennes and Saint Francisville, a structure that has been there for years.

"In 1970 it was purchased by a local farmer, Frank Stangel who had a grain drying operation on this side of the river and he thought it would be handy to have this bridge. In 2009, the state of Illinois took it over and agreed to inspect it," said Day.

Everyone has their own interpretations of the bridge and it holds different meanings to those who come across it.

"Popularly around here it's not called the Stangel bridge or the Saint Francisville bridge, or the Wabash Cannonball Bridge, it's called the Purple Head Bridge," said Day.

Some say... the legend stems from the French and Indian War.

"The most widespread legend is that if you drive out on the bridge at midnight and turn off your lights and honk your horn three times and wait long enough," Day explained.

Something disturbing.. will appear in your rear-view mirror.

"You'll see this purple head rising out of the tressels and floating in the air behind you, you can see it in your rearview mirror."

It's a sight... that triggers fear.

"And then you drive slowly across the bridge and if you can make it off the bridge alive, then you're safe."

So who exactly is... the purple head?

"As to who the purple head is... what spirit it is... we don't know. Of course, folklorists will tell you that bridges often have evil spirits connected with them. people have anxiety about crossing bridges anyway."

There are other stories.. describing what happened at this bridge, merely tales.. trying to make sense of its eerieness.

"People striving to find some origin for this purple head."

"So... what are your thoughts? Do you believe in some of these legends?" said News 10's Jordan Kudisch.

"Uh, I'm pretty skeptical about legends. legends are stories that claim to be historical but probably aren't."

So for now.. it remains a legend. Take a drive.. and find out for yourself... but be careful.. the "purple head" may be out there.

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