In the mid 1800s, when towns began to emerge in a wooded area of Michigan, children went missing. It left the improvised towns in shambles; all work and expansion stopped. The townsfolk turned to their church to find comfort and answers. In attendance was the enigmatic Elias Friske. He seemed to be a kind, older man with a fondness for children. He asked to preach that day.
Elias preached of hellfire and brimstone, and of demons that surrounded the town. He demanded the congregation's prayers, or else the demons would return and take more children into the dark abyss. With renewed purpose after hearing Elias preach, the town organized a search party to find the children, and to hunt the dark souls that took them. The townsfolk believed that Elias was too old and frail to join the search. They asked him to watch the town's remaining children. Elias agreed and told the search party he would take the children on a picnic, near the Rogue River. Elias explained that if the search party came back with bodies in tow, the children would be spared the horror.
Elias tied rope around each child's waist, creating a human chain that Elias led. “We don't want to loose any more,” Elias jokingly said. The children waved their tiny hands as they watched their parents head off in the opposite direction. Elias began their march into the woods.
The walk to the river was long, and the children soon tired. They asked Elias to take a break, but Elias harshly tugged on the rope leading them further into the woods. The children became frightened and begged Elias to stop, but he continued to drag them along. Soon, the children noticed a strange and horrible odor. Elias deeply inhaled the stench.
Elias pushed the children up against a tree and tethered them to it with the rope. He shambled over to a pile of leaves and uncovered the source of the smell. It was the missing children, skinned and beginning to rot. The children began to scream and cry, but the search party was miles away, far out of hearing distance.
One by one, Elias destroyed their young lives, forcing the living to watch each cut, to hear each bone break. After Elias finished his murdering rampage, he awoke from his bloodlust and realized the impact of what he had done. He could not return to town. He had to escape.
Elias threw the bodies of the children into the Rogue River and he fled further into the woods.
It was dark when the townspeople returned to town. Elias and the children had not returned. It took only moments for the townspeople to realize the ruse devised by Elias Friske. Fearing what darkness may be unleashed onto the children, the search party rushed into the woods where Elias had marched.
They arrived at the recently built bridge to cross the unpredictable Rogue River. There, gathered underneath the bridge in the icy waters, were the mutilated bodies of their children. Among the screams and wails, one young man noticed a pair of muddy footprints leading further into the woods. He sprinted in their direction and he eventually found Elias Friske, stained with blood.
The young man dragged Elias back to the bridge. Elias screamed about how demons had taken control of him and that he deserved pity. The magistrate simply responded, "Hang that son of a bitch."
The rope with which Elias had bound the children was recovered and tied around his neck. The townspeople, without ceremony, hung him off of the bridge. After Elias' body stopped twitching, it's said that the waters underneath him swelled, and snapped the rope from which Elias hung. His body was swept away down-river never to be recovered.
Today, the Rogue River is a popular place for young people to spend a leisurely afternoon riding an inner tube down its waters. Often they are frightened out of the river by what they have described as hands grabbing their feet from underneath the water. The hands seem to tug, attempting to pull the victim beneath. Expecting to see a pranking friend emerge from the waters, they soon realize that they are alone. Many have made their way back to the mouth of the river in tears after experiencing this frightening event.
The bridge from which Elias was hung is now known as “Hell's Bridge.” People have reported hearing the sound of children, at times laughing, at other times screaming. Disembodied footsteps are often heard in the area of the bridge. Many people have said that they have felt like they were followed through the woods.
Most activity seems to happen around midnight – around the time that Elias would have been hung. Hell's Bridge has acquired its name because many people have reported the sounds of demonic laughter erupting from all directions around this hour. The laughing is often accompanied by a dark apparition standing on the bridge, its eyes glowing red.