This story is a well known regional tale that has been told for generations. Now, I live in the marshlands outside of Toledo, OH. These swamps, though mostly drained and converted into farmland, still remain in some areas. Once part of what was known as the Great Black Swamp, which extended from Sandusky all the way into Indiana, and from Findlay all the way to Toledo. This swamp was called the Black Swamp either because the dense trees blocked out most of the sunlight, or because of its seemingly unpredictable nature. The swamp has been known to be haunted by ill fated travelers, trying to brave the dangerous conditions. But the most famous of all is known simply as the headless motorcyclist.
Just after World War I, outside of the sleepy Black Swamp village of Elmore, a man was driving home on his motorcycle, returning home from service. Little is known about who he was, where he was from, or even how old he was. But the story goes that he drove to his girlfriends house in Elmore, to discover that she had recently married another man.
Now, in this part of the state, most roads have enormous ditches next to them, to help drain the water from the swamps into the Maumee River in Toledo. Now, only major highways have guardrails next to the ditches, which are large enough to swallow a semi-truck. But rural roads have no guardrails, which makes driving hazardous, especially in the winter.
The man was driving down this kind of road, heading up towards a bridge crossing the Portage River. As he was just at one end of the bridge, he lost control of his bike, and flew into the nearby ditch. He then floated down the ditch to the river, where his head was severed upon impact with the bridge. It is also said that his motorcycle was still running, with only the headlight missing.
It is said that every year, on the anniversary of the accident, a phantom headlight can be seen racing across the road. The headlight heads around the curve, but then suddenly disappears just before the bridge. Some people also report the sound of a large splash in that area, though upon examination, nothing made that noise.
Elmore is in Sandusky County, Ohio, about 15 minutes east of Toledo on Highway 51. The bridge is on the Portage River, just east of town.