Late for Nowhere

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Posts Tagged ‘Old Fort Fort Wayne

Ghost Dog Gone?

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Bridge 2

Most of Fort Wayne’s numerous haunted places are said to be frequented by spirits that are decidedly humanoid in aspect: the ghost of one Lt. Philip Ostrander roams the city’s namesake Old Fort; a mysterious woman wearing a white, flowing gown is sometimes seen crossing Main Street Bridge west of Van Buren Street; the restless phantom of a maintenance man prowls the dark backstage of the Embassy Theatre. The list goes on.

A notable exception is Wells Street Bridge, which legend says is troubled not by a spectral biped but rather by a devil-dog with glowing eyes that barks at – and sometimes chases – cyclists who ride across the span late on dark, cold nights. The general advice for those who encounter this creepy canine is to forget the “Dog Halt!” spray and instead put the mettle to the pedals, and get out of there as quickly as your legs can spin.

Wells Street Bridge is a landmark of downtown Fort Wayne. The 180-foot-long structure across St. Marys River was built in 1884, closed to motor vehicles in 1982, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. It’s one of only a handful of 19th century iron truss bridges built in U.S. urban areas that have survived the inexorable march of progress.

For decades the bridge was a fairly quiet, isolated place, but it now anchors the west end of Promenade Park, a 4-acre riverfront development project opened in August 2019 that includes such amenities as an amphitheater, a craft been café, a floating kayak launch, a tree canopy trail, and a children’s playground. The $20 million project took two years to complete.

Now, this promenade is obviously a nice little addition to Fort Wayne’s growing list of attractions, but my worry – in the midst of all the breathless hoopla surrounding the park’s grand opening – is that the months of noisy, intensive construction might have displaced the legendary ghost dog from its home on Wells Street Bridge.

In recent weeks, as the nights have grown longer, darker, and colder, I’ve climbed aboard my bicycle and indulged in a series of nocturnal “test rides” across the venerable old bridge in an effort to coax the devil-dog into appearing. So far, no luck – but I like to think that the mystery still lurks there, biding its time until the nights are even longer, darker, and colder before it once again harries brave or foolhardy cyclists who dare to cross the river in the wee hours.

Bridge 1