Putnam County, about an hour’s scenic drive from Indianapolis, is known for being “covered bridge land” and is the home of nine crumbling bridges, each of which has its own rich past. But none is more whispered about than the Edna Collins Bridge, which receives visitors from all over the Hoosier state near Halloween each year.
Edna Collins Bridge has long been rumored to be one of the most haunted places in Indiana. Known as the “baby” of all the bridges dotting the state’s landscape, it was built in the twentieth century, making it relatively new compared to the other ancient structures. Records from the bridge’s inception indicate that the builder’s name was George, with a last name of either Collings or Collins. Eventually it was decided that the name was Collins.
The woman behind the mystery of Edna Collins Bridge was the daughter of James and Sarah Collins, a hard-working Putnam County couple who were joined in marriage on August 17, 1837. The Edna Collins Bridge was officially christened after this fourth child of James and Sarah, but to this day, no one knows why.
The dark legend of Edna Collins Bridge begins with the tale of a little girl’s tragic death in the early 1920s behind the bridge. So the story goes that the child sometimes requested permission from her parents to take her dog for a swim in Little Walnut Creek, the rushing body of water behind the bridge. As the little girl’s parents made frequent trips to Greencastle, the would drop her and the dog off at the water and come back for her later, signaling their return with the honking of the car horn.
One gray, windy day, the girl’s parents arrived at Little Walnut Creek and honked, only to be met with silence. Their daughter did not come running as she normally did. So they honked again, and again. Finally, fear rising, they climbed out of the car to look for her.
What they found was the dog running toward them, drenched in creek water. He frantically led them along the edge of the creek until they found their daughter, face down in the water. Sadly, they were too late to save her; the little girl had drowned in Little Walnut Creek. Her father tried to breathe life back into her, but she was gone.
Since that fateful day along the banks of the creek, Edna Collins Bridge is said to be haunted by the spirit of the little girl. Over the years, curious thrill-seekers have claimed to have seen her, standing and waiting for her parents on the edge of the bank with her dog by her side.
While this tragic tale is the main story connected with the historical bridge, there are whispers of another, more controversial story that explains the presence of the bridge’s ghost. In the mid-1800s, in the tiny town of Portland Falls, there lived a young doctor and his even younger lover that he strived to keep a secret.
The girl eventually got pregnant, and the doctor, panicked, performed an unsuccessful abortion that led to her untimely death. Anguished, the doctor told no one of his dark secrets and to this day, some remain convinces that the young figure that drifts along the banks of the creek near Edna Collins Bridge is the young man’s doomed lover.
This Halloween, if you’re looking for spooks and spirits and haven’t visited Edna Collins Bridge, head to Putnam County and pay your respects to a lonely young girl who walks restlessly along Little Walnut Creek. And for idea of more creepy adventures, check out this list of haunted houses in Indiana.