Every town has its mysteries, its ghost stories, its haunted places. Even the town of Valley Center lays claim to a popular haunt. Back in my high school days, we would go out there to drink and to try to summon the ghost of Theorosa. We never really saw anything ghostly, no matter how much we drank. It was more about the experience.
I know, the current bridge is not even the original one. The first one burned down in 1974 and then burned down again. The current bridge was built in 1991 so cars can continue to cross Jester Creek. There are a number of stories about the ghost, but the main one I have heard over the years goes something like this:
A young Native American woman gives birth to an illegitimate baby with a white man. To hide her shame, she throws the baby into the creek, drowning it. At that point she is so overwhelmed by grief, she drowns herself too.
Legend has it that the mother’s ghost still roams the area crying out, “Theorosa,” forever searching for her lost child.
This is where it gets interesting. If you stand on the bridge and call out, “I’m Theorosa.” The mother’s ghost attacks and throws the person into the creek.
Add to the mystery rumors of strange lights, a ghostly figure of a woman and sounds of a baby crying, the bridge has its share of visitors. Visitors that appear to be mostly teenagers with spray paint if you look closely at the pictures.
A number of articles have been written about the story, but most believe it to be an urban legend as no real evidence of a Theorosa exists in Kansas during the 1800’s.
Jump ahead to the 1990’s, our evenings were spent under the stars drinking Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill and if I remember right, Peach Schnapps and Mt. Dew, were still fun, and a little scary. I remember a friend of mine, Jacqueline standing on the bridge yelling at the top of her lungs about Theorosa and then freaking out and running to hide in one of our cars.
With a full moon in September, Jeremy and I ventured out to the bridge for some night pics. We did not take any Boone’s with us. I’m not going to lie. It was a little eerie. I don’t really know if I believe in ghosts, but my imagination runs wild sometimes. We took our night photos, yelled for Theorosa. No answer, no lights, just two middle aged guys standing on a bridge in the middle of the night. Now that’s scary.
While we were waiting for the moon to pop up for the pics. I remembered another story about the bridge. That same girl that would yell and run , whose name I have changed, was out past her curfew and needed to call home. This was long before the days of cell phones. I remember parking in a stranger’s driveway, after dark and watching my friend knock on the door, then enter the house. I was nervous about her going into the house. As I type this I realize I probably should have gone up to the house with her. Luckily, Jackie was fine. They let her call home and we drove like crazy to get her home before it got too much later. Man, we do some dumb things when we are kids, and it’s a good thing we are still here to laugh about it. If something would have happened to Jackie that night, kids today would be standing on that dumb bridge yelling “Jackie – Jackie, Call your mommy” over and over and pouring Boone’s into Jester Creek.