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Waypern Bridge

03/30/2016

bridge

If you find yourself on 180 west, and cross into Hudspeth county over the Waypern Bridge, keep driving. There’s no particular reason to stop there. There are more square miles than people in Hudspeth, and you won’t find a rest stop or gas station until you hit Cornudas Parish. Most traffic comes south through Interstate 10, and it’s rare to see anything other than occasional farm traffic on that stretch of road.

Some documentation has survived of the bridge’s history and construction. In Cornudas you can find archived newspapers and flyers, and Dell City has baptismal and town records on microfiche. The bridge was built in 1872 to continue a farm road over a now dried up tributary of the Pecos. There was some trouble with the construction apparently, as the newspapers report two dates for the groundbreaking of the bridge; one in March, and another in September. The reason for this restart is listed by the Dell City Gazetteer as “The self-same matter that brought Mr. Meyer to our town-stead last winter.” There is no other recorded instance of Dell City being visited by anyone named Meyer, as not every issue of the flyer was saved. The bridge was completed by December, and a celebration was held at the house of a local farmer, Preston White. The Bridge is referred to in the Gazetteer as “Dell Crossing,” but the crude accompanying map indicates the same location.

In 1912 an elderly couple was committed on the strength of their own testimony regarding a late evening crossing of the bridge by wagon. The couple, Elias and Salem Talbot,  was being escorted by their grand nephew Joseph Landsen. According to a closing statement by the prosecution in the subsequent trial, “…They crossed the bridge just before sunset, when the horses spooked and turned the cart. They were uninjured from their fall, but stopped to fix the wagon and round up the horses. They returned at half past two in the morning, screaming and covered in blood. They awoke most of the town, and had to be physically subdued. Landen’s body was never found. All three were eventually committed to the Old Mercy hospital in Liberty when their families could no longer care for them.

In July 1948, two local children went missing. Jake Jones, 14 , Simon White, 10, and Dawn Landers, 13 were seen walking south in the late afternoon from Dell City along FM. 1437 after a celebration at the town square following incorporation and the recent discovery of a reliable water source. Jake Jones had a pocket knife with him, and a frisbee which was being shared between the children. At some point during the night, Simon White returned quietly and nearly made it to his bedroom before being held by a concerned citizen. Upon being asked where his friends were, he replied “at the bridge” and burst into tears. A group of locals, including the parents of Jake and Dawn, got into a pickup truck and drove to the bridge. They found nothing out of the ordinary, except the frisbee the children had been playing with lying some 20 feet from the bridge, pressed into the ground, as though it had been stepped on.

On September 7th, 1968, the bridge was rebuilt out of concrete and rebar with the construction of the highway. There were extensive reports from the construction workers of odd background sounds while some of the tools were running. No deaths were reported at the construction site, though at least three of the workers went missing. Subsequent investigations revealed that the workers had been assigned to fitting a concrete drainage pipe beneath the bridge, but had been working along with the rest of the shift, and it did not seem likely that they could have left without a co-worker or the foreman seeing them.

During the 70 and 80s, the remoteness of Hudspeth County made it popular with drug dealers north of the border, and a good deal of cartel and later federal interest brought unparalleled interest. On January 31st, 1979, FBI Agents Kelly Serrano and Austin Miller observed a meeting between low-level cartel agents held just off the road north of the bridge. The meeting lasted only 20 minutes, after which, According to Agent Serrano two of the men drove away. The remaining men were in the middle of a quiet conversation when one of them was, in her words “pulled quickly beneath the bridge” The other men pointed their firearms at the shadows under the bridge but never fired. They ran off into the scrubland, and were arrested the following week in Pine Springs. The agents reached the bridge after approximately ten minutes had passed. They did not find a body either under the bridge or in the drainage pipe. They did find two wax paper and packing tape wrapped bundles of cocaine and traces of blood. Agents Serrano and Miller immediately called in backup and roped off the scene. A similar bundle containing cocaine and covered in blood was found by hikers near the concrete drainage pipe after a brief rainstorm in march of that year, as well as an elaborate wedding band. these items were turned over to the FBI.

In 1987 there was a major drug bust near Cornudas. Local law enforcement worked closely with DEA agents to catch a cartel that had smuggled large quantities of cocaine and marijuana past the border for nine straights months. Over 200 federal agents, state police, and civilian contractors took part. There was an extended firefight between the feds and the smugglers a few miles away from Waypern bridge at sunset. All but one of the smugglers was killed, although the feds lost four agents. Two were injured the shootout, and later died in the hospital, while the others had been stationed at the bridge, it being closed to civilian traffic. The cause of death of the other two agents was not disclosed and the families were never asked to identify the bodies. A follow up investigation two months later by a private detective hired by the families of the deceased revealed three shell casings from a 9mm sidearm, one round buried in the underside of the bridge, the other two unaccounted for. The DEA will not speculate on cause of death, and has not released further details..

It’s important to state that the only witness of the following event was under the influence of alcohol and mescaline, and recently released from prison for possession and assault. The report filed by the attending officer was as follows:

On December 7th, at 11:45 PM, Waylon Davis, 34, was heading towards Waypern bridge in a red 1992 ford pickup, and saw a vehicle pulled over to the side of the road and in his own words, “stopped to help.” As he approached the car he became aware of a noise coming from the car that sounded like “a hundred saws scraping a tin shed“ and apparently saw some confusing shadows in the car that looked to him like scrub brush. At this point he did not venture closer to the vehicle and upon spotting movement to his right under the bridge, fled the scene and proceeded west at high speed. He was stopped by state police a few miles down the road, offered no resistance, and explained to the officers on duty what he has seen. Upon being processed at the station, Mr. Davis claimed he had hallucinated the entire thing, and admitted to stealing the pickup truck, which belonged to his brother in law. Later that night, a Local patrol retrieved a 1989 gold Buick Skylark identified as belonging to Leslie Macken, 68, which was pulled over on the shoulder of the highway less than 100 feet west of the bridge. Traces of blood were found in the driver’s seat, and the seatbelt had ragged cuts in two places. Waylon was found guilty of murder, and is serving time in Huntsville Prison. Mrs. Macken’s body has not been found.

The most recent incident was in April of ‘08. Following a local media puff piece regarding the bridge and its odd history, a documentary crew from a cable paranormal investigation show turned up to investigate. They had planned to film every night for two weeks, but never arrived back at their hotel to check out on the fourth day of their stay. Their cars and equipment were found intact, and a roughly severed left thumb was found inside an open camera bag, and was identified as having belonged to the host of the show, but no intact bodies or other parts have been found. Though the film equipment was left recording, no video of their attacker was recovered. There is a scraping sound, after which the camera’s audio cuts out. the show’s host can be seen running off into the night, holding his hand. Beyond the range of the camera’s nightvision some movement seems to intercept him, but the darkness of the night prevents any further interpretation.

The video has since proliferated online, despite continuous attempts by the studio to take it down. A link to the most recent YouTube upload is included below.

 

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