In 1860 James White hired James Smith to build him a mansion in Overtoun, Scotland. James Smith was the father of Madeleine Smith, a wealthy socialite who had an affair with an apprentice nurseryman, who was killed by cyanide when he started pressurizing her to marry him. Nothing was ever proved against Madeleine but the case lasted in public memory.
Overtoun House was built between 1860 and 1863, though James Smith died before it was completed. The Whites started living there in 1862.
During World War II, Overtoun House became a convalescent home for injured soldiers and locals. In 1947, it was turned into a maternity hospital, and in 1948, a fire destroyed a part of the house. There were no deaths and the hospital remained open till 1970. After serving the British government as a base for ‘Quality of Life’ experiment and being used by some religious groups, the house was abandoned.
In October 1994, a man named Kevin Moy threw his two-week-old son from the Overtoun Bridge because he believed his son was the Devil incarnate. He then tried to kill himself several times.
Overtoun Bridge is the approach to the house. There was a waterfall below the bridge and the bridge parapet stood about 50 feet (15 m) above the waters. Since the 1950s or 1960s hundreds of dogs have jumped from the parapet into the waters below. Some of the dogs, who survived the fall and were taken back up, jumped off the bridge again.
All the dogs that jump from the bridge have long snouts and they all jump from the same side of the bridge. More than 600 dogs in total have jumped, with around 50 of them dying.
Locals claim that the bridge is haunted by the ‘White Lady of Overtoun’ who lives in the mansion. “I was standing there two years ago when I felt a firm, hard prod that felt like a finger,” religious and philosophy teacher Paul Owens told the Sun. “Something or someone was trying to push me over the bridge too, just like the dogs.”
In Celtic mythology, Overtoun is known as ‘the thin place’ – an area in which heaven and earth are reputed to be close. Are these dogs then just more sensitive to the ‘spirit world’?
Scientists are theorizing that it is not ghosts but strong smells that are exciting the dogs, which is why it is the longer snout ones that are jumping. But skeptics are quick to point out that if that was the case, then all the dogs wouldn’t jump from the final two parapets on the right-hand side. Some suggest that dogs are picking up on the depressed and tragic thoughts that people have felt at that place.
Whatever the case may be, dog-owners are now choosing to walk their dogs on a leash rather than take the chance of them suddenly jumping over the bridge.