OKLAHOMA - Dead Woman's Crossing
by: Becky Ray
In my college days in Weatherford, Oklahoma I heard often about Dead Woman's Crossing. This place has been written about and is on the Internet, and I must say that the best write up yet has been the one on the Troy Taylor's website. (see http://www.prairieghosts.com/dwoman.html) Since the telling of the actual story regarding the untimely death of Katy DeWitt James is thoroughly covered there, I will not go into it here.
While the author did not find any paranormal activity there, I have several personal experiences and friends who have had personal experiences that I felt worthy of mention. I plan to make the trip back to my old college town some day to complete an actual investigation, but have not been able to accomplish this as of yet due to time constraints.
I do not recall when, or why I first heard of Dead Woman's, but I knew the story intrigued me. I knew it was a place where a bridge had been that had been washed out and rebuilt in a different location. Finding the truth about what went on at this place was a bit of a challenge.
I was told several stories ranging from UFO sightings to cattle mutilations to mysterious black robed people performing rituals there at midnight. I cannot verify any of these stories, but the one closest to the truth stuck with me. This story was originally told to me by upper classmen who all confirmed they had heard and felt the same thing.
In this legend, the "dead woman" was a passerby who had her baby with her as she was crossing the bridge in her wagon. She had been attacked, and her head had been cut off. This poor woman was then tied between two trees and left on display. As the legend went, it had been several days before anyone spotted her. Her ghost was said to wander this location looking for either her head or her baby. Several of my friends had told me that they had stood in a "cold spot" in the river where she supposedly had been killed.
As noted on the Prairie Ghost website, this location was a very popular party place for college students. I spent many a happy night there when the river was low telling stories by the bonfire. Those are some of my best memories from college. We did not vandalize anything, as I have been told the old bridge and the new one are both covered in graffiti now, and that makes me sad.
We held a reverence for this place. We often spoke of the "dead woman" and spoke out loud to her with respect.
My first trip to this location was with a car full of friends from the dorm, and I had heard so many scary stories we were all a bunch of giggling silly girls. I didn't see a whole lot that time out, as I was spooked before we got there. My friend who was driving said, "Hey look, there's a foot!" and the girl sitting next to me shoved my head down and screamed for the driver to get out of there. I didn't see anything, so I assumed of course that there was either a person hiding and his foot was visible, or that there was a severed foot there. Once we calmed down, the driver explained it was merely a foot painted on the road. We went back by and I must admit I was disappointed to see that's all it was.
Over the next four years I spent as a student at SWOSU I visited Dead Womans many times. Some of the time I went with friends to see if we could find the ghost, and other times we went there to simply relax around a bonfire. I was still a freshman the first time I felt the "cold spot." It was a very hot day, and even the river water was warm. However, there was this spot, about 16 inches diagonal, which was ice cold. Trees did not shade it, and there was no other explanation for it. But there it was, and all of us felt it.
A fellow theatre student told one of my favorite stories about this place to me. When I was in my junior year, we had a flood that washed out the new bridge. What was left was a very dangerous immediate drop off from the road to the river bottom that had already receded to its usual low state. He was standing on the edge of this broken road, looking down into the riverbed, when he felt himself start to lose his balance. Suddenly, he felt what seemed to be a hand pushing him backwards to stop him from falling off of the bridge. If this actually did happen to him, I am sure it was because of the respect we all felt for her and this place.
I believe it was during my senior year that I found out the actual story of Katy DeWitt James. Her remains were laid to rest in the local cemetery in Weatherford.
Weatherford, Oklahoma has a usual climate of 37 F in the winter, 58 F in the spring, 80 F in the summer, and 60 F in the fall. From my experiences there, late spring to early fall was the best time for activity.
I found part of the telling of the haunting on the Prairie Ghosts site a bit funny and almost ironic. In October of 1988, my theatre friends and I were planning to take the new freshmen to an abandoned house in the middle of the country that had legends already attached to it. Purportedly, satanic rituals took place at this house and it was covered in satanic graffiti. As luck would have it, the night before we decided to make certain we knew where it was, and we didn't. We drove all night and couldn't find the place. So, we did what any good group of theatre students would do. We made up a new legend at a new location. This was at a different location from dead woman's crossing. In fact, it was on the other side of town on a different river. As our story went, there was a wagon train that was coming down the river when they were attacked and slaughtered. We told the freshmen that you could hear the sounds of the wagons coming down the river and the screams of the people every night between midnight and two in the morning.
Here's the rub, the morning after being left there, each of the freshmen backed each other up in swearing that they not only heard the wagons and screams, but they also saw the ghostly images of wagons rushing down the river!
When I read "Rex's" version of the Dead Woman's legend on Troy's site, I couldn't help but wonder if somehow over the years our "legend" got combined with the legend of Dead Woman's Crossing.