FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — Legend has it in the 1970s a woman drove off “Tilly Willy,” a bridge in Fayetteville, Arkansas killing herself and her children. The bridge was demolished in 2010 and a new one opened in 2012, but still locals claim the ghost of that woman haunts the Tilly Willy Bridge.
Tilly Willy Bridge in Fayetteville is believed to have been built in the early 1930s.
It is believed the bridge got its name in the 1830s.
One of the early settlers was Matilda Wilson Ford.
It is presumed Matilda’s name slide off the tongue easier as “Tilly Willy” instead of “Tildy Wilson.”
The current owner of the property, Herman Jones, said the bridge was added to the area to control flooding.
“It was never intended to be a bridge,” Jones said. “It was a dam.”
Regardless, people still used it as a bridge and many died while trying to cross it, including a University of Arkansas student who accidentally drove off of it and drowned.
The most well-known death though is the one of a woman who killed herself and her children by driving off the bridge.
It is said by many people that the woman’s ghost still haunts the area.
Ronnie Caveness of Fayetteville took carloads of kids to the Tilly Willy Bridge eight years ago.
“You can see a lady in a white dress dancing off to the side in a field, you can see a green goblin crossing the creek,” Caveness said. “Some car lights coming at you but there is no car.”
Caveness said he has always been skeptical of any paranormal activity, but his experience at the bridge changed his mind.
“As soon as we got to the bridge, it was a calm, still, night, there wasn’t any fog,” he said. “And the temperature dropped drastically, like maybe 10 degrees.”
Caveness said they also heard knocking and a woman’s voice and decided to get out of there.
“I did snap some quick pictures, but you couldn’t see anything I was just looking out at the bridge,” he said. “But when we got back and developed the pictures there was this white orb just right where we were at on the bridge.”
The picture he is referring to is below:
Caveness isn’t the only one curious to find out if the spooky stories are real.
A lot of people have braved the bridge, especially during Halloween time.
Christina Lawrence of Rogers made many trips to the Tilly Willy Bridge.
“The atmosphere was definitely very creepy and it is definitely something that I won’t forget especially the first few times that you go,” Lawrence said. “You’re just like wow this is just weird someone did die here, you could totally see it happening.”
Lawrence said the whole atmosphere of the bridge was the perfect place to tell scary stories.
“It was really creepy,” she said. “The trees were really grown over the road and it created like that halo environment of like a scary Halloween environment.”
She said she was upset when they tore it down.
“It’s completely different now, but we still have the memories,” she said. “I think the stories behind it are super cool and ya’ know it’s neat that the legacy of the bridge is still living on even though it was torn down and redone.”
Despite having different experiences, it is firmly believed by many that there is something, or someone, lurking at the bridge.
“The whole atmosphere was scary, the stories behind it were scary, but its definitely a place I will never forget,” Lawrence said.
“I’m a believer that there is something, I don’t know if you would say haunted but there is some entity,” Caveness said. “There is something there at the Tilly Willy Bridge.”