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ANTH 277 Ancient Cities Sacred Land

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ANTH 277 Ancient Cities Sacred Land

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ANTH 277 Ancient Cities Sacred Land

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Course Code: ANTH277
University: University Of Illinois

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Country: United States

Question:
Topics:
The screaming bridge Arlington or you can choose any topics among top 10 urban legends.
Answer:

Urban Legends are a set of fictional stories, usually with scary, humorous, or suspense elements, used mainly for the purpose of entertainment, or to tell a moral (Howard). They are the modern form of rural folktales, which is the expressive form of culture that is lived by the urban folk. Rumors, gossips, urban legends, all three are communicated via conversation between a group of people. If rural folklore was spread by word of mouth, urban legends, with the advent of technology, are spread via print or electronic media (Lewis).
One of the popular urban legends in the United States of America is the Screaming Bridge at Arlington, which stemmed from a true incident that has occurred less than a century ago. The “death bridge”, as it came to be known, is an incomplete wooden bridge over the Trinity River, that was vandalized by a few boys in 1959. The legend is supposed to have occurred as an aftermath of an accident that resulted in the loss of the lives of three women on February 4th, 1961 (Rogers). People passing by that bridge at night are reported to hear screams in feminine voices, apparitions of tombstones and shadowy figures of the girls who died in the accident.
Upon probing of the accident by the police, it was found that the barricades that were placed in the bridge were mysteriously removed, thus causing the accident. However, the bridge was already burnt by a few boys a couple of years back, and reparations were underway, thus the barricades.  The investigations did not proceed further, and the bridge was repaired. However, another accident in 1994 caused the bridge to be marked as an accident prone zone, and shut down for vehicles, open only to foot traffic (Hensly 1).  
Analyzing the legend scientifically, it can be rationalized that the ghostly figures and apparitions could be superior mirages or Fata Morgana, which causes images to be seen above the surface horizontally or vertically, thereby causing an illusion of tombstones and shadows. The wind blowing through the damaged and unfinished bridge might be the reason for the “screams”. This can be related to the screams of the slave woman from the garret of Simon Legree in the book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, where Cassy places a broken bottle to one of the holes in the wall (Stowe XXXIX).
The hype of the occurrences and the added fear of the unknown and paranormal incidents have strengthened the legend of the screaming bridge. The rest of the job of peppering the legend has been done by many people, and with the advent of technology, the legend along with the news has spread through nooks and corners of the internet. In today’s internet-savvy era, urban legends have an easy mode to spread. It must be noted that the same internet that can store huge quantities of legitimate data, can also store and spread unverified rumors and urban legends. Thus, we can conclude that it is us who must learn to use our discretion in trusting the data available online.
References
Hensly, Denise. 6 screamed, 3 died, legend born. News. Arlington: Star Telegram, 1961.
Howard, Emma. “The power of urban myth.” The Guardian View 31 October 2010.
Lewis, Peter H. “Folklore on the Internet.” 11 March 2014. Urban Myths. 27 July 2018 .
Rogers, Reid. “Urban Myths in North texas.” 17 October 2018. The Boneyaed. 17 October 2018 .
Stowe, HB. “The Stratagem.” Stowe, HB. Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  US: John P. Jewett , 1852.

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