It’s not uncommon to come across old, abandoned train tunnels scattered through the backwoods of the United States. The lines either went dead or were replaced and forgotten about throughout the years. Most of these tunnels were long forgotten by the people who lived near them, other than perhaps a place of legend or somewhere for teenagers to go and party. The old tunnel in my town fell somewhere in between those two things as it was a hangout for young rebellious types and known for being “haunted” by a spirit of a man who was killed on the tracks. I couldn’t tell you much about the quality of the late-night parties that took place there, but I can tell you about the ghost.
While I wasn’t much of a wild-child partying away my youth, I did enjoy a good abandoned building or creepy place to explore with my buddies. We all knew of the local spots to go, and all knew of the old train tunnel out in the county but it somehow took us until our junior year to actually make it out there. We went during a particularly bright evening one fall weekend night, armed with only cheap plastic flashlights and the arrogance of youth that gives courage when in a group together. None of us knew exactly where to look, but figured that if we followed the tracks out of town, we’d come across the tunnel eventually. It took us a lot longer than originally thought to find it, but it seemed to be worth the trip at first sight.
There was a huge, ominous opening that reminded us of a beast’s gaping mouth coming out of the soil and rock around it. It was a menacing thing to see in the middle of the night, though I think it probably wouldn’t have been any more comforting during the day. We had all talked during the long walk there about what it is we were planning on doing and also just how far deep we’d be willing to go. We also told our own stories of the supposed ghost that was doomed to haunt the tunnel. We all told roughly the same tale, but with just a few minor differences here and there that we couldn’t agree on. But by the time we got to the opening and saw just how scary it really looked, the last thing on our mind was a ghost that probably didn’t really exist. I, personally, was just more afraid of what natural dangers might be waiting in the darkness for us. There could have been all kinds of wild animals making a lair in there and we all knew that druggies and even homeless people frequented the place.
The ghost decided to make itself the star of the show that night rather quickly into our descent. We all got about a dozen steps or so into the darkness, doing what we could with the flashlights to not trip on any of the rubble and trash littering the ground, when we were all stopped dead in our tracks. It was a sound at first, that like a dying animal, that alerted our attention. But before we could even think to consider the awful sound coming from some injured creature, a glowing mist began to form the shape of a man not ten feet in front of us deeper into the tunnel. The mist-man, or ghost, let out another awful screech that caused us to forego any safety and dart out of the opening that we had just only entered moments before.
We ran nonstop back to the safety of the city-limits before catching our breaths and our nerve whilst standing around in a circle of tired, gasping friends. Of course, we all had to describe in graphic detail the specter that we just saw and how terrifying it was and the obvious nefarious plan it had for us before our incredible escape. The rest of the night was spent reliving that moment over and over and thinking of possibilities of what we had heard and seen, but it all led back to being the ghost we had only half-heartedly expected to be in that old train tunnel.