Matsell Bridge - Matt's Bridge

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Legend around town says that if you drive out the the middle of the bridge and shut off the car, an unseen force will push your car across the bridge. What’s more, you will hear strange sounds outside around your car, and when you leave the place, you will see handprints on its surface. But beware! The legend also warns that if the spirits recognize you from trying the trick too many times, they may push you off the bridge or break your windows.

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Geographic Information

Matsell Park Rd.
North of Viola, Iowa
United States

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42.130560324236505, -91.38319337376737
Linn County, Iowa
Nearest Towns:
Stone City, IA (2.1 mi.)
Anamosa, IA (5.3 mi.)
Springville, IA (5.8 mi.)
Martelle, IA (7.6 mi.)
Prairieburg, IA (7.7 mi.)
Central City, IA (8.8 mi.)
Morley, IA (11.1 mi.)
Alburnett, IA (12.1 mi.)
Monticello, IA (12.5 mi.)
Coggon, IA (12.8 mi.)


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Comments (24)

    • The legend surrounding it includes matsell and his family getting killed on the bridge while racing to get help for a fire…I’ve done extensive research on this, and this legend is false. The matsells were a wealthy family from new york, who built their summer home here. The house DID burn to the ground, but not until after the Linn county parks took it over. The more realistic legend revolved around rthe old mansion itself and stated that the family had a mentally challenged child who was locked in the cellar and that after her death, the ghost haunted the home. I have found little evidence to support this claim, however. It is also rumored that the house was a stop on the underground railroad, yet no evidence has been found to support this theory either.

      • You say you’ve done research on the place, can you give some sources? Not trying to discredit you, I’m just trying to research the place too.

        • I’m from the area and have been, the legend I’ve always heard is a school bus full of kids crashed into the river and drowned at the bridge, and their spirits identify the bridge as dangerous, which is why they push you away.

    • road a wheelie like Evil Kenevil across this bridge in 1986.was with a group of 10 dirt bike riders headed to Wendy Oaks mx area. Felt like I was on an adrenalin high. Days later had someone from my future talk about events at this bridge. Also he noted that in dream he watch a motocross
      bike pull a wheelie across this bridge. That motocross bike was mine a 1982 Honda cr 450 perfectly described by Russ days later

    • Just did it tonight and got pushed back relatively fast after we got pushed to the end of the bridge we went to a light pole close by and there were 3 hand prints on each side of the hood and we circled back to do it again facing the opposite direction. And got pushed the same direction that we got pushed while facing forwards and heard knocking on the car and we drove to the light again and there on the trunk was three different sets of prints (I’m atheist and this scared the living s*** out of me)

    • Me and four of my friends went there 2 times. The first time we were causing at spirts and i got possessed. The second time, we were walking back form the bridge towards our cars, and I heard foot steps behind me.

        • It works because if you go on the bridge it has a slight decline going from each side giving the car momentum to roll forward. The handprints are from the grease from your hands being left on the car and since you must hit a gravel road to get to the bridge, the fine light coat of dust clings to the oil left by the hands causing visible handprints.

  1. I went out there with a few friends years ago and we got pushed across the bridge. The car was clean so we never saw hand prints but it did almost sound like footsteps outside the car.

  2. We went here last night and our car was pushed off the bridge and there were hand prints that were not ours on the car…Very exciting stuff!!

  3. Went here tonight put it in neutral and it crept across the bridge.. tried it again coming from the other direction and went backwards, in other words…GRAVITY PUSHES YOU ACROSS THE BRIDGE IF YOU GO BACKWARDS WHEN YOU CROSS IN THE OTHER DIRECTION. Glad you guys don’t try to do it coming from both directions. Dissapointing.

    • My dad told me that irbid haunted and if you put your car in metros and park it will pushbyou off we were driving near it he is like you want to go over it i am like NO I was so close to be going over it I was so scared

  4. I told my friends about this place i have done it once before and so we went to go do it and stopped in the middle like it says then there was this pounding on the car window and then it broke and then my car wouldn’t start for about 5 mins as the car was being rocked and you could hear laughter outside this shit is REAL

  5. This is for sure a real thing. my friends and I went last night and got pictures of bright green figures around the back of the car. We took more pictures after we stopped at the end of the bridge and there was nothing. i felt something pushing us !! We also tried it while the front of the car was on the bridge first. we put it in reverse and turned the car off and still went forward.

  6. We went and tried it last night..could hear noises outside the car while we were pushed across the bridge. We also found the word help written on the back driver side window! Then it disappeared moments later! Freaky stuff!

  7. My Brother, Sister in Law (at the time) and I all did this a couple of years of ago, I bought some gummy worms and we put them on the back end of my truck. It was dusk or just after and we sat there for a while, I have a stick shift, so we made sure everything was off, it was in neutral and sure enough after a bit it started rolling, it got going pretty good, 10 – 15 mph. It was a really neat experience, sadly they didn’t take any gummies.

  8. I live a 30 minute drive from this bridge. And I’ve visited a couple times, and let me tell you, there is NOTHING to see there.

    Besides, everyone around this area doesn’t care about this legend; if you really want some hardcore paranormal things, this is not the place.

  9. Me and my friends went and we were pushed fast backwardz and then front . And we saw shadows outside of the car. One of my friends clapped his hands 3 times then a dark shadow came out of the trees. We also had toddler sized hand prints on the back of the windshield. (Note) the car was clean

  10. It’s ok if you’re looking for an outing with your kids, but don’t have any high hopes of anything spectral. Not only did nothing happen, but the general surroundings make it difficult to have a true haunting experience. The bridge is part of a public area, so campers, hikers, horseback riders, people fishing on the banks below the bridge, shooting range, etc. And, sitting in the middle of the bridge with your car stopped, waiting for ghosts and watching for other cars takes the thrill out of it. This all being well after twilight. Basically the most excitement was physically visiting a “famous” place after seeing pictures and reading about it online/in books.
    It wasn’t a total loss. We continued on a gravel road and came across a lone cemetery in the woods and had fun exploring that. Don’t foresee going back.

  11. Went out there last Sunday during the Red Flower Moon and as soon as Totality hit, it felt like the bridge was loaded with people and I heard something in the river that was much larger than any animal in Iowa, I’ve lived her 43 years. But once Totality started my car started to roll backwards towards me and even swerved to make sure it hit me. This place is real and if you don’t belive a local radio channel, frove out in the middle of the night and as they are inside the SUV taking about the story and there SUV just started moving.

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Disclaimer: The stories posted here are user-submitted and are, in the nature of "ghost stories," largely unverifiable. makes no claims that any of the statements posted here are factually accurate. The vast majority of information provided on this web site is anecdotal, and as such, should be viewed in the same light as local folklore and urban legends.