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.

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.