Scotland is known for grand Victorian architecture, including a number of significant historic bridges that still stand today. Among them is Overtoun Bridge, located near the village of Milton in Glasgow. Overtoun Bridge is not the highest, the largest, nor the most grandiose, but it does have one of the most strange and infamous histories.
Since the 1950s, hundreds of dogs have leaped from the bridge and into the 50-foot granite gorge below. At least 50 of those dogs have died, with many more experiencing serious injury. This phenomenon has become so well-known that locals avidly avoid the bridge while walking their dogs, and there’s even a sign warning visitors to keep their dogs on leash.
But what could possibly compel a dog to jump off a bridge into a pit of stone? There are two working theories.
The first theory is that the dogs smell a pungent odor, possibly the scent of mink or martins, and become fixated on their prey drive. The edges of the bridge and its walls are tapered, so when the dogs jump up to investigate, it is easy to slide off. Also, when standing on the bridge, the tapered edges don’t allow you to see just how far the jump is, and some suggest that the dogs, fueled by their desire to chase a small mammal, simply don’t realize how far they are about to jump.
The “mink” theory has also been substantiated by reports that many of the dogs who have jumped have been long-nosed breeds (like the German shepherd), which are known to have a keener sense of smell and a higher prey drive.
However, mink are not known to live in the area, and investigations into this line of thought have produced no results.
The second, and perhaps more widely-accepted theory is that Overtoun Bridge is haunted by the ghost of the “White Lady of Overtoun.” The White Lady was once the wife of John White, the son of a wealthy lawyer who had purchased a large plot of land in Overtoun on which to build a mansion.
Following the death of his father, John and his wife Mrs. Overtoun moved into the massive estate. Despite plans to settle into the mansion together to create a happy life, John suffered an untimely death, leaving Mrs. Overtoun alone in the enormous home.
Mrs. Overtoun lived for nearly 30 years alone on the estate following her husband’s death, and according to locals, she never recovered from her period of mourning. Following her death, locals also began claiming that her spirit remained on the Overtoun House property, wandering the halls of the estate, appearing in windows, and even going so far as to haunt the surrounding area.
The Overtoun Bridge, which is near the old Overtoun estate, has long since been rumored to be the haunting grounds of The White Lady, and many folks from the area have reported that the bridge itself has a strange, ominous feeling.
It should also be noted that residents of the area are somewhat known for being superstitious and that Celtic lore has a significant impact on the beliefs of those that dwell there.
While there is still plenty of mystery surrounding the ominous Overtoun Bridge and the dogs that have died there, one thing is for certain: dogs act unpredictably when confronted with whatever it is that makes them jump.
According to the Daily Record, Alice Trevorrow was walking her cocker spaniel, Cassie, in 2014 when the dog jumped.
“She loves her ball and is normally looking at me waiting for it so it was very uncharacteristic. She turned her head, looked up, and did this massive leap. I will never forget the awful whine she made as she jumped over. My son looked down and all he could see was a dot. She managed to get herself up and met my son, collapsing when she saw him. How she survived that, I’ll never know,” said Trevorrow of the incident.
Although Cassie survived, her injuries were substantial, and she spent nearly a week in the care of veterinarians at an animal hospital.
Lottie Mackinnon had a similar experience with Bonnie, her border collie who also survived a jump from the bridge, a story she shared with the New York Times. “Something overcame Bonnie as soon as we approached the bridge. At first she froze, but then she became possessed by a strange energy and ran and jumped right off the parapet.”
The macabre history of Overtoun Bridge is well known, and even those that have not seen a dog jump from the bridge have reported strange behavior by their own pets.
“He’s never tried to jump,” said Emma Dunlop, who has visited the bridge with her labrador Ginger on leash. “But sometimes he freezes or hesitates when he gets on the bridge, so I’m always careful.”
So what do you think? Could dogs be so excited by a smell that they hurl themselves over a bridge, or could our canine companions be seeing something we can’t? Are the mink to blame, or could The White Lady have a hand in these mysterious cases?