People and Places with Pierce: The screaming bridge


WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Out in the wide open farmland just outside of Williamston,a haunting tale has gripped generations of Martin County residents. Wilford Griffin has lived on Yarrell Creek Road his entire life.

“There used to be a mill here and it was operated by a Mr. Yarrell and his wife,” said Griffin. “It got to the point where he decided he would eliminate her, and he tied a mill stone around her neck and threw her in the creek here. The story that I have grown up with says that at midnight, you’ll be able to hear Mrs. Yarrell screaming at this bridge.”

“Yes you could hear screams,” added Barney Conway, Martin County tourism director. “Now whether it might have been a screech owl at one time or it could have been the ghost of the late Mrs. Yarrell.”

The story behind how this so called Screaming Bridge got its name varies a little depending on exactly who you talk to. But no matter what version of the story you believe, they all seem to circle back to the same haunting conclusion.

“Halloween night was always the best night,” said Conway. “Your mind was ready for it. You would hear something whether it was there or not. We enjoyed being thrilled is what it was and the mystery of it and the comradery of course.”

Comradery that sometimes included a few pranks.

“One night, we were cooking hot dogs, and somebody had gotten there before us and had gotten under the bridge with a 12-gauge shot gun and ripped off three quick ones,” recalled David Whitley, director of the Martin County Chamber of Commerce. “That reverberation and that sound, it cleared us out really quick.”

“A couple of pranksters hid under the bridge and when she arrived, they let out a bloodcurdling scream and that lady was convinced that the story of the screaming bridge existed,” added Griffin.

But Griffin isn’t so sure of it all himself.

“I’m not sure that I believe the screaming part,” said Griffin. “I have never heard the screaming, and I really don’t come down here at midnight to check it out.”

And neither does anyone else these days.

“I don’t think it is as well-known with the younger people growing up nowadays because the story hasn’t been repeated as much,” said Griffin

“This was back during the 60’s we’re talking about,” added Conway. “40’s, 50’s, and 60’s yes it was very widely known.”

Take a midnight drive to the East’s Screaming Bridge, and listen, if you dare.


We’re always looking for your story ideas for People & Places with Pierce. If you have an interesting person or place you’d like to see featured, email Pierce or send him a message on Facebook or Twitter.


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