Local lore has it that late one night, around the turn of the 20th century, a bus filled with inmates from a mental institution crashed near Clifton. Two escaped into the woods. Soon after, people started finding the dead bodies of rabbits, eaten raw, hanging from trees. It terrified the locals, but one night they found something much worse: a dead man, hanging from a tree. Police finally located the inmate responsible—but "the Bunnyman" was hit by a train on a bridge trying to escape.
The urban legend has spread far beyond Fairfax County, making the site, known as "Bunnyman Bridge," a popular spot for thrill-seekers on Halloween night. The bridge, which has a tunnel underneath, even has a listing on Yelp. Neighbors in that area, however, aren't amused, said Captain Purvis Dawson, commander of the . They asked local police to set up a checkpoint on Halloween night to turn away anyone from the bridge who does not live in the area.
"People go down there and they get malicious. They write graffiti and a lot of demeaning things on the underside of the bridge," Dawson said.
Some people climb up near the train tracks over the tunnel to take video footage on their phones or cameras. Still others climb up into trees near the tracks to take recordings.
Dawson went at the bridge at 2:30 p.m. on Halloween, and people were already arriving there, he said. Officers from the Sully District Station stayed at the bridge until about 4:30 a.m., turning away over 200 people.
The sightseeers came from all over the metro area and even farther away, he said. One disappointed group even came from as far way as the Pennsylvania/Maryland border. "They were upset," he said. Neighbors, though, were relieved.