One of the places I knew was haunted that I wanted to see when we went to San Francisco was the Golden Gate Bridge. One of the things I never expected to do was walk across it. Drive maybe, but not walk.
However, the day we visited was my husband’s birthday. He wanted to do something memorable. Neither of us could think of anything more memorable to do to commemorate the day than walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, so that’s what we did.
Because the weather was perfect, the bridge was jammed packed with people. It was the rare span that we weren’t passing another soul. Which made me wonder how anyone could jump from the bridge in broad daylight.
THE MOST POPULAR SUICIDE BRIDGE IN THE WORLD
Because, of course, besides being an architectural jewel and engineering marvel, the bridge is a favorite spot for desperate people eager to give up the ghost. In fact, it’s the top suicide site in the world. The evidence of this dark side of the bridge was not hard to miss.
In the middle of the bridge, at about the best point for anyone thinking of jumping into the waters below, you’ll find what I came to think of as crisis phones.
I later found out pedestrians are not allowed on the Golden Gate Bridge at all hours of the day. The bridge is accessible to pedestrians starting at 5 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m. (during Spring, Summer and Fall). During Winter, pedestrians are allowed from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m.
At any rate, as we walked across, I had a ton of time to think about all those people whose lives had become so hopeless they felt they had no other choice but to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. (Estimates put the number of suicides at around 1,600. There are a lot of unconfirmed deaths too. Ones where the bodies were never recovered.)
I expected to feel a little creeped out as we walked across. Especially after seeing the crisis phones. Instead, I just felt so very sad for the people who successfully committed suicide from the bridge. (Not all who have tried have died. Most have, yes, but a handful have actually survived the fall.)
SO MANY DEATHS, SO FEW GHOST STORIES
With the Golden Gate Bridge being the site of so many deaths, I expected more ghost stories to abound. People spotting phantom jumpers or something like that. Or even some of the men who died during its construction. There was a bad accident in which 10 lives were lost all at once at one point during construction.
Most of the ghost stories don’t involve apparitions. Screams coming from the fog are common reports. However, since it is a bridge crossing water, which is frequented by seagulls, whose screeches might be mistaken for screams (especially if the birds were shrouded by fog), it’s hard to say whether the screams are of supernatural human origin or plain old aviary one.
The ghost story that intrigued me most involved nothing to do with the bridge, however. It did involve the area that the bridge spans, though.
THE GHOST SHIP OF THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
The area that the Golden Gate Bridge stretches across is called the Golden Gate Straight. In 1853, San Francisco’s famous fog swallowed the SS Tennessee. She got swept up in the currents which led her to the dangerous rocks. She sunk.
However, witnesses have reported seeing the two-masted ship sailing again…as a phantom vessel. People have claimed to see it and then watched it disappear into the fog.
In 1942, sailors aboard the USS Kennison even claimed to have seen it sail right past them. They didn’t spot a single soul aboard the decks. They said it didn’t register on their radar but it did leave a wake. It just sailed silently past them before disappearing into the fog.
NO GHOST SHIPS FOR US
The day we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge we did not see any ghost ships or fog. We did see a ton of boats, including two practicing for the America’s Cup.