Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Spook of Sachs Bridge

Sachs Bridge, Gettysburg 
Everyone knows that Gettysburg is haunted. Right?

It definitely has to be haunted because my bookcase has two full shelves dedicated to the legends and lore of Gettysburg. It seems every nook and cranny from the battlefield to the town seems to have a paranormal story connected to it. According to some, the sheer amount of reported paranormal activity places Gettysburg in the top ten "Most Haunted Cities" in America, if not the entire world. The amount of blood that was shed on these sacred grounds between July 1 and 3, 1863, has created a hotspot for the unexplained.

Unfortunately the paranormal side of Gettysburg has overtaken the historical side in the minds of some people. They arrive here not to remember the history, but in hopes of experiencing the paranormal side of the region. I fell in love with the battlefield the first time I visited there with my family; and one of the very first trips I ever went on when I could drive was to Gettysburg.

Surprisingly, despite the countless stories that have been told and retold about the ghostly side of the battlefield, in all of my trips to Gettysburg, I can only say I've experienced one event I would call supernatural. I will note there is another spot on the battlefield that left me puzzled, but I'm not ready to call that experience paranormal. That is a story for another day.
The only ghostly encounter that I can claim happened to me in Gettysburg occurred at Sachs Bridge, just southwest of town. Located on Waterworks Road (off of Pumping Station Road), the beautiful covered bridge is worth the trip to see, especially as the leaves are changing.

I had arrived at Gettysburg very early one morning to take some pictures of the sun rising behind various monuments. After taking the pictures, I headed to a local restaurant to meet up with Randy, a gentleman I was introduced to through a website that discussed Pennsylvania's ghosts. Even after that website closed down, the two of us have remained in contact. A long-time resident of area, Randy is familiar with many of the legends and lore of Gettysburg.

Randy shared a number of stories about the ghosts that roam the town and the battlefield while we were eating breakfast. Our conversation soon turned to Sachs Bridge (also referred to as Sauck's Bridge) and the hot spot it had become for ghost hunters. Although I had visited the bridge during a previous visit, I had to admit I was not all that familiar with the bridge's history or its legends.

The bridge was built in 1854 by David Stoner, the bridge is a Town Truss design (also known as a lattice work design or a Town lattice design) with a single span. Sachs Bridge is roughly one hundred feet in length as it spans Marsh Creek.

Sachs Bridge spanning Marsh Creek
Sachs Bridge was used by both Union and Confederate troops as they crossed over Marsh Creek during the Battle of Gettysburg. In 1938, the Pennsylvania Department of Highways declared this bridge to be the most historically important covered bridge in the entire state. The years had taken its toll on the bridge and in 1968 it was closed to vehicular traffic. In 1980, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Then in 1991, a push to have the bridge restored was made and the bridge was returned to its former glory. However, in 1996 a flood swept it off of its abutments. Steel beams were placed and the bridge was sat on them, raising it another three feet above the flowing waters of Marsh Creek.

As we drove out to the bridge, Randy filled me in on some of the stories about the bridge. One of the local legends about the bridge involves a group of soldiers supposedly executed there. Accused of being spies, three Confederate soldiers were hanged from the beams of the bridge. Word of mouth claims that the ghosts of these three men still hang about the bridge.

Others have reported the strong smell of pipe tobacco though none is present at the time. Strange lights and sounds have also been reported by those investigating the bridge and its supposed ghostly activity.

When we arrived at Sachs Bridge the only other people around were two fishermen standing in the stream. It seemed that we had the bridge to ourselves for the moment, so I grabbed my camera to get some pictures of the historical bridge.

Randy continued talking about the history of the bridge and the modern claims of activity while I took pictures. We started across the bridge and had only gone a couple of steps when I paused to take pictures of the men fishing in the waters below.

I was in the process of taking those pictures when a very loud "clip-clop" sounded at the far end of the bridge - the sound seemed to echo within the bridge. I turned and stared at the opposite end of the bridge, searching for a cause of the mysterious sound. I glanced over at Randy – he had a nervous, yet curious, look on his face.

“Did you hear something?” I asked as I continued to search for the cause of the sound.

“Yeah,” Randy spoke softly as he too searched for the source of the sound. “I’m not sure…”

“But it sounded like I horse walking,” I finished.

After a couple of seconds that seemed to drag on for hours, we shook it off as our overactive imaginations and I went back to taking pictures of the men fishing.

I had only taken a few more pictures when the interior of the covered bridge was suddenly filled with the steady sound of "clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop" as the sounds of a horse walking approached the spot where Randy and I stood. The noise that we heard came from the far side of the bridge, towards us, and sounded like it stopped roughly halfway across the bridge. I turned the camera towards the center of the bridge and snapped a couple of pictures hoping to get something, but nothing out of the ordinary appeared on the photos taken that day.

Inside of Sachs Bridge
Taken while the sound of a walking horse was heard
Unfortunately nothing appeared in my pictures
I knew without a doubt what I heard was the sound of a horse walking across the floor boards towards me, but at no time was I – nor was Randy – able to see anything out of the ordinary. I would like to think it was a soldier checking us out, seeing what we were doing on the bridge.

We remained at the spot for a couple of minutes, hoping to experience something more, but whatever had come onto the bridge was gone. We never heard it retreat back off the bridge nor did it continue its approach towards us. Whatever it was, it had vanished.

Randy and I went over to the area we thought we heard the sound of hooves stop, but could not find anything that revealed a source of the sound. We even asked the two fishermen in the creek if they heard anything out of the ordinary. They gave us a strange look as if we were nuts and said they had not heard anything out of the ordinary.

During the whole event, which lasted only a minute or two at the longest from start to finish, I never felt a hint of fear. I can't say I was spooked or terrified, but instead was curious to the cause of the sound. After we ruled out any and all possibilities, we came to the conclusion that we had experienced one of the ghosts of Gettysburg.

I've been back to the bridge a number of times since that day and personally have not had any other experiences. I often find myself wondering who or what was riding across the bridge that early morning years ago. Was a soldier checking us out, wondering what we were doing on his bridge? Or was it completely unrelated to the Civil War and the battle fought here? I will never know the answers of what caused the strange noises Randy and I heard that morning.

Sachs Bridge is open to the public. However I was warned that police do patrol the area regularly at night. Please be respectful of the area. 

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