Outside the Loop: Ghost Hunting for the Spook Lights

by Jessica Hopsicker

Southwest Ohio is rife with legend everything from haunted highways and bridges and midget houses to hatchet wielding maniacs. Satanic rituals, hangings, massacres, more than one baby being thrown off a bridge. An astounding number of automobile, bicycle and motorcycle fatalities and other various nefarious occurrences have helped propagate these tall tales. There is so much of this perverse lore in Butler County alone that is hard to keep track of it all.“The Screaming Bridge of Maude Hughes Road” in West Chester, for instance, and the equally notorious “Crybaby Bridge” on Fudge Road in Gratis, are just two of the supposedly haunted bridges in the area. The “Phantom Bicyclist of Buckley Road” is a legend that just about any other town in America holds of transient lights of the deceased. This tale is often times confused with quite possibly the most infamous, widely reported and documented haunting of them all, the “Oxford Light” at the corner of Earhart and Milford Oxford Road.

Armed with cameras, a digital voice recorder, Google maps, and cell phone app designed to commune with the dead, my roommates Mary Anne and Larry and I cut a 90 mile loop from West Chester to Gratis and over to Oxford in search of the supernatural and just plain creepy.

What started out as an assignment to simply check out the famed “Oxford Light” turned out to be six hour tour through Southwest Ohio’s back roads. It appeared we opened a Pandora’s Box of the paranormal.

There was Hickory Flats Cemetery where unfortunate caretaker making his nightly rounds was brutally murdered by a hatchet wielding maniac. Dressed in dirty old clothes his ghost still haunts the cemetery carrying the very hatchet that killed him. The notorious Wehr Road itself where the cemetery is located Trenton is teeming with tales of black clad Satan Worshipers, sacrifices, and even mass murder. All we saw was corn.

From there we ventured to the infamous and rather impassable Fudge Road, where the locals clearly really don’t want tourists. Needless to say we didn’t stay long enough at Crybaby Bridge to call out “Mama” three times, and hear the poor infant’s ghostly wails. We almost ended our trip in a jail cell.

From there we set out to west to Oxford stopping to commune with the demons at the “Devil’s Backbone” in Camden. Words popped up on the cell phone app like “payment” and “sacrifice” after considerable questioning and demands for the spirit of this notoriously cursed land to show itself. We tossed a quarter into the forest next to the ravine and left somewhat disappointed that nothing further happened. There was Hopewell Cemetery outside Hueston Woods, where it has been said that bad luck or even a spirit follows after you’ve ventured there at night.

“Please wait,” the cell phone app read so we drove back around and did in hopes to pick up a ghostly hitchhiker to bring on the rest of our excursion. Then it was off to Buckley Road where nothing happened.

Ironically, the “Oxford Light” was the only location where we did in fact witness something. The side of the road was marked with no parking signs. Over thirty years of sightings have accumulated, countless observers from college students to paranormal groups. We didn’t even have to flash our headlights on three times as local legend states to summon the spook lights.

Sure enough, shortly after we stopped the car, a rather bright ball of light bounced and bobbed in the distance along the significantly hill-ridden road. There was only one of them bearing a faint halogen glow. Was it really the ghost of the young man on a motorcycle perpetually doomed to drive to his girlfriends house for all eternity?

Rumor has it he was decapitated by a barbed wire fence after missing the ninety degree turn where Earhart and Oxford Milford Road meet. Perhaps it was distant headlights reflecting off the sun baked pavement. Rarely an actual car followed. We attempted to follow it once to where it stops at the girl’s house where she signaled her star-crossed lover. There just so happened to be another vehicle ahead of us doing the very same thing.

We closed out our amateur ghost hunting adventure in West Chester at the “Screaming Bridge of Maude Hughes Road.” Road weary and tired of waiting we decided to leave and head to the pub to get get a pitcher of beer and go over our findings before the bars closed. After carving out a sizable chunk of Southwest West Ohio, we barely begun uncover all the myths and monsters that surround the area. The motorcycle ghost was the only one we deemed plausible, the rest it seemed as always, that legends were far more convoluted and interesting than reality.