By Braden Ochs | Echo
Headlights flood the winding country road of South 825 E Street as you drive out of Upland, searching for something to do. Suddenly, the road curves across the rickety old bridge. You slow the car down to get a glimpse of the mystery that lies underneath. As the car coasts, your headlights flicker and die; darkness drapes over you like a blanket. Sputtering, your car slows to a stop. You yank the door open as you hope to push the car off the wretched bridge, but it's too late. Childrens' screams echo across the surface of the Mississinewa River. You cry out in horror as the world you know vanishes.
According to Upland legend, the iron bridge is haunted. Legend has it that long ago, a bus full of children drove off the bridge into the river and most of the passengers died. The old bus was spray painted "Helter Skelter," and it is rumored that kids would throw glass bottles into it to see if they could disturb the old children spirits. If you drive out to the old iron bridge in the middle of the night and slow your car down to cross, there are claims that your car will shut off. The only way to start it again is to push it across the bridge. As you do that, however, screams of dying children rise from the river.
This legend, along with many others, are associated with the property formerly owned by Carl "Hoggy" Miller. Miller raised pigs on his 80 acres of land, where he let them run wild. It became affectionately known to the locals as "Pigland". Ed Meadors, who now owns 25 acres of Miller's old land, spoke on what he knew of Miller:
"I've never actually met the man, except maybe at the local gas station," Meadors said. "According to people who actually knew him, he was a good-hearted guy, but he was very unkempt, very contrary to social taboos and mores."
Because of how eccentric Miller was, locals told many different stories about "Pigland." Until four or five years ago, heaps of junk lay around the property, adding to its wonder and fear. According to Meadors, Miller was even considered a mythical figure for a while because of all the stories that came out of "Pigland." It is speculated that Upland locals would go out to the bridge and scare each other with stories about spirits that may have dwelled in the old tractors and junk. Another legend was told about a girl being murdered there.
After it was cleaned up, the land has become a place of beauty, according to Meadors. The property has gained a new image and a second chance. The ghost stories are still fun to tell, though many of them have been forgotten. But, when living in a small town like Upland, there is always room for new stories and new adventures. Carl Miller lived out his adventure in a way we didn't understand. But because of his quirks and lifestyle, Upland gained many stories to tell.