It's been said that extreme violence leaves its mark on a place, and that those whose life ends in violence still wander the place they died. And legend has it, the Alcovy Trestle Bridge area is one of these places. According to some, it's the site of more than one ghost.
In the 1940s, the Alcovy Trestle Bridge is rumored to be the site of several hangings carried out by vigilantes who would bring young black men from Newton and surrounding counties to the trestle, walk them down the long tracks, then hang them from the portion of the trestle that is directly over the Alcovy River. Once dead, they would reportedly cut the bodies loose and let them drop several feet into the waters below.
According to one woman who grew up in Newton, but now resides in Jasper County, she was once told of a black woman who was accused of seducing a prominent white family's only son, at that time a teenager. The woman became pregnant, and though she swore that the relationship between the two had been initiated by the white teenager and begged for them to spare her life and that of her unborn child; her pleas fell on deaf ears. As the story goes, the woman was kidnapped and brought to the trestle bridge where she was violently beaten and then hanged from the bridge.
According to the Jasper County woman, several people, herself included, have seen "glowing" figures walking along the trestle and the figure of a young black woman holding her swollen belly, walking up the embankment from the Alcovy River toward the road.
"My son used to go out there and park," she said. "You know, with his girlfriends. And one night he came home white as a ghost and shaking just like a leaf. I asked him what was wrong - I thought he'd wrecked the car or something like that - and he told me that he and this girl he'd been on a date with were out there parked and he looked up and there was a ghost right in front of the car. He said she was a black girl and she was real pregnant and holding her stomach and crying. He said that he raced out of there as fast as he could and I don't believe he - or probably that girl he was with either - has ever been back out there."
But for all the rumors, no one knows the identity the "glowing" figures that walk the trestle or of the girl who was hung there or the family that demanded her death.
But the hangings are not the only tragedy that area has witnessed. While some say the trestle bridge is haunted, others say it's the current bridge that many drive over every day that has its own ghost.
Many people report seeing the apparition of a young boy riding his bike across the bridge. The thing that is different about this young man? Those who see him can look right through him because he is so translucent. And while no one can say for sure, those who remember are sure it is the ghost of a 13-year-old who was murdered in the area.
On August 8, 1986, the boy rode his bike from his brother's home where he had spent the night to a convenience store where he was seen playing video games with another young man and an adult by the name of Johnny Wade who was on parole at the time. Witnesses say the boy loaded his bike into Wade's pickup truck and got in with the man at around 1 p.m., presumably catching a ride back to his brother's house.
Later that evening, the boy's battered body was found in a clearing off a narrow dirt path that ran from Alcovy Trestle Road to the woods and river. He had been severely beaten around the head and strangled to death. Wade was quickly arrested and charged and, later, convicted, of the boy's death. Wade died in prison in 2007 from throat cancer. Rumor has it the boy can be seen pedaling his bike up and down the bridge, standing up on the pedals as if to go faster, looking straight ahead, perhaps trying to get away from the scene of his death.