There is something about Scotland that makes it a land of many mysteries
and ghost stories. The myth of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, barely
scratches the surface. One place that defies explanation is the Overtoun
Bridge, near the town of Milton in the burgh of Dumbarton. It is also
known as the "dog suicide bridge" due to the number of dogs that have
leaped to their deaths from its heights.
The bridge is not far from Dumbarton House both of which are said to be haunted. The architect of the house, James Smith, was the father of a woman who was arrested and tried for murder, and he died during the building of the house in 1863. There is no word on who the ghost of either is supposed to be.
Since the late 1950s or early 1960s it has been noted that dogs have mysteriously been leaping to their deaths from the bridge. At least one dog a year has been lost to the bridge and its strange effects on canine kind. In a six-month period in 2005 five dogs took the leap. What is even more puzzling is that among the few dogs who have survived the 40-foot fall those who have returned to the bridge attempted a repeat performance.
The dogs have jumped from the same side of the bridge in roughly the same place -- between the final two parapets -- and going over a four-foot high stone railing. They have all been large dogs with long snouts and they seem to be quite happy with leaping into the void. The dogs have all made these leaps on clear, sunny days.
Theories on the reasons dogs meet their fates so intentionally on the bridge abound -- from the haunted status of the bridge to the Celtic mythology that the Overtoun Bridge is a "thin place" between the living and the dead. A canine expert, Dr. David Sands, came in to look at the problem and concluded that the dog deaths could be due to the wild mink population in the area. On the other hand, it has also been reported that there isn't a mink population in the area.
The bridge is not only a place for dog tragedies. In 1994 a local man threw his baby son to his death from the bridge, claiming that the child was the anti-Christ. Sometime later the man himself tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide by jumping from the bridge.
Whatever the real reason is it still remains a mystery. Locals now refuse to walk their dogs over the bridge just to be sure. That sounds like a prudent practice considering the known history of the bridge.