Railroad Folklore

Kate Shelley Saves the Train

One night, in 1881, a fierce storm broke over the Des Moines river valley. The storm raged through the night, flooding the river and the nearby creeks. Along about 11 p.m., a “pusher” train was sent to search for any wash-outs along the track. After it passed the home of the Shelley family, a railroad widow raising five children, the family heard a terrible crashing sound. The bridge over Honey Creek had collapsed, taking the pusher train with it.

Ghost on the Tracks

The train rumbled around him as he adjusted the throttle. The night shift was always the toughest, in the engineer’s mind. He had rumbled through Timpas a few minutes ago and was on his way to Thatcher. Not a bad stretch of road, and there was no better train in the entire Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad.

Casey Jones

Casey Jones, that heroic railroad engineer of the Cannonball, was known as the man who always brought the train in on time. He would blow the whistle so it started off soft but would increase to a wail louder than a banshee before dying off. Got so as people would recognize that whistle and know when Casey was driving past.

Shadow Train

A miner was on his way to Dos Cabezas, where here heard there was good prospecting, when he found himself lost and alone in the flats just north of the Dragoon Mountains. In the blistering sun of midday, his burro dropped dead from heatstroke and the prospector knew that he would shortly follow if he did not find shelter and something to drink.

Phantom Train Wreck

The passengers were grumpy and heavy-eyed as they boarded the train in Salisbury during the early morning of August 27, 1891. The train was headed to Asheville, and the riders settled into their seats and tried to catch a few more minutes of sleep…

Lincoln Death Train

I’d been transferred to the Hudson Division of the New York Central system, and was working the rails on the main line between New York and Albany. I was on the late shift to start with, since I was a bit of a night owl. After six weeks of stomping the tracks and mending the rails, I was feeling right at home in my new job…

Ghost Handprints

My wife Jill and I were driving home from a friend’s party late one evening in early May. It was a beautiful night with a full moon. We were laughing and discussing the party when the engine started to cough and the emergency light went on. We had just reached the railroad crossing where Villamain Road becomes Shane Road…

Express Train to Hell

For days, a ragged old man had hung around the Newark Central Station. The stationmaster kept running him off, but night after night he would return. He kept accosting people, shouting: “It’s coming for me! It’s coming!”…

Screaming Jenny

The old storage sheds along the tracks were abandoned shortly after the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was built, and it wasn’t long before the poor folk of the area moved in. The sheds provided shelter – of a sort – although the winter wind still pierced through every crevice, and the small fireplaces that the poor constructed did little to keep the cold at bay.

Maco Ghost Light

There was once a railroad conductor named Joe Baldwin who was working for the newly rebuilt Atlantic Coast line. The year was 1867, and the railroad had expanded to include a small station in Maco, North Carolina. Joe was assigned to the very last car in the train, and he executed his conductor duties to the best of his abilities aboard his assigned car. Then one night, something went wrong. Terribly wrong.

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