Highland, Illinois Monkey Bridge
by Jeff Swift
(Highland, Illinois, Madiscon County)
In the early 1900’s there was an African American man who lived with the traveling circus. In this era the circus commonly traveled by train and Highland, Illinois was the days stop for the circus.
From what I understand and through much speculation, for many months this man wanted to escape from his life on the road and start a new life in St. Louis.
This man just happened to be one of the animal caretakers and especially had a lot of interaction with the circus monkeys.
When the train stopped and prepartions for the circus began this man decided he would take one of the circus monkeys and start his trip to St. Louis to try and form his own act.
As you can imagine word spread quick of the lost monkey and the man. In an attempt to escape the man decided to hide under a bridge in the middle of the country a couple miles from town in order to wait for night to travel.
As dusk approached, the search area expanded to the countryside just outside town. By this time the fleeing man was starting to have serious trouble with the restless monkey.
Just before the sun went down a car passed over the bridge. The monkey would not quite down from the noise of the passing car, and in order to try to conceal his hiding spot, the fleeing man was forced to kill the monkey, but his action came to late.
Shortly after successfully smothering the monkey the man was seized by one of the search parties and hung in one of the trees next to the bridge.
It said that if you travel once over the bridge and then get out of your car the man and his monkey can still be seen hiding beneath the old bridge.
Other witness accounts have reported seeing a man hanging by neck and swaying in the trees next to the bridge. Monkey bridge is located on Hickory Flat Road just west of Highland, Illinois.