The Zealandia Bridge located at 201 Beaucatcher Road is a mere 2 ½ miles from Applewood Manor. It was constructed in 1909 of quarried stone to provide access to the nearby Zealandia Mansion—in its time a massive castle like home. While the bridge was once considered beautiful for its architecture and surrounding scenery, it was the writings of the great author, Thomas Wolfe, who at first secured its connection to the hearts of Ashevillians. In his book, Look Homeward Angel, he described his character’s walk with his girlfriend up the crest of Beaucatcher Mountain. Speaking of the bridge, he wrote “…. As they went under the shadow of the bridge, Eugene lifted his head and shouted. His voice bounded against the arch like a stone.” Thus, creating a romantic tradition—walking with your beloved under the great arched bridge and shouting up to listen to the lover’s echo.
Times changed and events have replaced romance with fright and fear. People now write of the bridge:
“To sit under that dark bridge is something you will never forget. Cars parked under the bridge always died, the wind always picks up and crazy sounds whip all around the car like scratches or maybe branches of trees scraping only there were no branches.” [Kristen] “…will never go back.” [Jen] “…the wind picked up, sticks began to break, and a woman walked out of the woods in all white.” [Nick] “…on the roof of my dark gray car was a skeletal handprint. [Barbara] “…we both hear a scream (and saw) glowing eyes.” [Brit]
Those are some of the real life experiences of people brave enough to visit Zealandia’s Bridge, now known to locals as Helen’s Bridge. The bridge has taken on a dark persona—a haunted place rooted in legend and unexplainable occurrences.
Felicia Huffman writing in Urban Legend, retold Helen’s story as told by her parents:
“Helen was a dedicated mother and lived across from Zealandia on the other side of the bridge. Her daughter often played with the children who lived in Zealandia, so it was natural for her to be gone most of the day. On one unfortunate day, Helen’s daughter, who has always remained unnamed, was playing in Zealandia when the mansion caught fire. Being that the construction of Zealandia rendered it virtually fire-proof, the fire only destroyed one room. As fate would have it, Helen’s daughter was caught in the room that was engulfed by flames. When Helen went to retrieve her daughter, she learned of her daughter’s fate. Distraught Helen raced back across the bridge but stopped when she saw a rope on the bridge. Full of misery and woe, Helen hung herself. The next morning, a construction crew working in the area at that time found Helen’s lifeless body hanging from the bridge. From that day on, Helen continues to search for her daughter. Those who have seen her never return to Beaucatcher Mountain, especially after dark. Others have permanent white handprints in the paint of their car, and one man’s car never ran again.”
Those with the “gift” will tell you that things die slowly in Asheville’s quartz laden mountains—so it is with Helen and perhaps her daughter and maybe others—dead souls whose spirits are tied to the Zealandia Bridge.