Scary stories

Screaming Jenny

A West Virginia Ghost Story

retold by

S.E. Schlosser

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.

A gentle, kindly woman named Jenny lived alone in one of the smaller sheds. She had fallen on hard times, and with no family to protect her, she was forced to find work where she could and take whatever shelter was available to someone with little money. Jenny never had enough to eat and in winter her tiny fire barely kept her alive during the cold months. Still, she kept her spirits up and tried to help other folks when they took sick or needed food, sometimes going without herself so that another could eat.

One cold evening in late autumn, Jenny sat shivering over her fire, drinking broth out of a wooden bowl, when a spark flew from the fire and lit her skirts on fire. Intent on filling her aching stomach, Jenny did not notice her flaming clothes until the fire had burnt through the heavy wool of her skirt and began to scorch her skin. Leaping up in terror, Jenny threw her broth over the licking flames but the fluid did nothing to douse the fire. In terror, Jenny fled from the shack and ran along the tracks, screaming for help as the flames engulfed her body.

The station was not far away, and instinctively Jenny made for it, hoping to find someone to aid her. Within moments, her body was a glowing inferno and Jenny was overwhelmed by pain. Her screams grew more horrible as her steps slowed. She staggered blindly onto the tracks just west of the station, a ball of fire that barely looked human. In her agony, she did not see the glowing headlight of the train rounding the curve, or hear the screech of the breaks as the engineer spotted her fire-eaten figure and tried to stop. A moment later, her terrible screams broke off as the train mowed her down.

Alerted by the whistle, the crew from the station came running as the engineer halted the train and ran back down the tracks toward poor dead Jenny, who was still burning. The men doused the fire and carried her body back to the station. She was given a pauper's funeral and buried in an unmarked grave in the local churchyard. Within a few days, another poverty-stricken family had moved into her shack, and Jenny was forgotten.

Forgotten that is, until a month later when a train rounding the bend west of the station was confronted by a screaming ball of fire. Too late to stop, the engineer plowed over the glowing figure before he could bring the train to a screeching halt. Leaping from the engine, he ran back down the tracks to search for a mangled, burning body, but there was nothing there. Shaken, he brought his train into the station and reported the incident to the stationmaster. After hearing his tale, the stationmaster remembered poor, dead Jenny and realized that her ghost had returned to haunt the tracks where she had died.

To this day, the phantom of Screaming Jenny still appears on the tracks on the anniversary of the day she died. Many an engineer has rounded the curve just west of the station and found himself face to face with the burning ghost of Screaming Jenny, as once more she makes her deadly run towards the Harpers Ferry station, seeking in vain for someone to save her.


You can read more West Virigina folktales in Spooky South by S.E. Schlosser.



Sad story

poor jenny :-[

This is a nice story

I wouldnt read this alone at night.


sooo saddd yet so scary and awsome.totaly telling this at my friends sleepover

Very sad, but a girl who lives on my street screams at everything and we call her screaming Jenny, not after this but like... yeah...

That is so sad. Quite scary. It seemed true! I know it isn't like. How is it a 'nice' story???

You should tell this story while sitting around a campfire... see how many people scoot away afterwards. Or, tell it in an abandoned train station, and when you're done have a trail whistle or the brake sounds on recording and play them...

tht was such a sad story :(
wat did jenny do to deserve tht kind of death i mean really wat?

sooooooo sad she didnt deserve that. stupid fire y is it that bad things always happen to good ppl? 8(


frankly after reading this story i am getting scary nightmares every time i sleep

You guys find this scary? Honestly?

This actually could be true, The poor nice and kind woman being burned alive and running for help and getting ran over by the train, The fire is little when she noticed it and getting medium by the time she gets towards the train, She could have made it before it got so big it'd kill her

Funny thing is, this story sounds a lot like a family legend of mine. There's a few differences but relatively the same idea. A woman lived in our old house back in the 1800's. A spark flew from the fireplace one night while she was warming herself, caught her nightgown on fire, and she ran from the house and up the road screaming for someone to help her. She ran til she fell down in the middle of the road and died there. Kinda makes me wonder if its true, or if its just a spin-off from this legend..

that is so sad and scary. i hope the train driver rues his actions.

aww poor jenny i mean she didnt deserve a death like that. i didnt find the story scary, but sad. i mean she was agood person! she struggled to stay alive. then she turns into a ball of fire!!! so saaaaaaaaddd.

Wow, that was so sad... thing about it is, I live in West Virginia :O Although I'm pretty sure tons of people would read this live in WV as well, so...

i think that its very sad bout poor jenny!she was a very nice person.she shouldnt of died!:(

i wanna go 2 the place where that happend. if i went i would help her!!

there is somthing seriously wrong wit jenny.... y didnt she just pull off the skirt honestly.....u think dis is scary

No, this one wasn't scary either. I just find it really sad that someone like Jenny had to die, if this even is a true story :(

whatttttt???!!!! thats retarted!

This scares me.

I love this story its really sad and it gave my the shivers I was reading it by myself and I was picturing it in my mind and I got scared but I also wanted to cry beacause she helped others when they needed and yet no one came when she needed them.

WOW dats rlly scary!! n my name is Jenny. Just freaks me out!! :(

Woah. I wish they gave the names of that place. I would love to see that..Hm. But yeah. That is pretty freaky. :o I feel bad for Jenny though...

hey my friend call's me jenny that is freaky oh man i'm on fire and not the good kind mr schlosser you scare me or maam thank's for a light hearted laugh after a day of hard studying and check out this perosn's other stories scary bye thank's it was cool but yeah poor lady how insensitive after she gave so much of herself and not nothing in return man so cruel bye

Why didnt she stop drop an roll?

it is so sad

this is sad

really good story

aw that's really sad but who doesn't know how to stop drop and roll. who doessn't go to kindergarden?

Scary story!! Poor Jenny:*(

im a Wv native and my mother told me this story as a child and i never beieved it untill I went to harpersferry on halloween.

omg not a scary story but sad i wanna go the place that it happened.!!!......!!!!!!!

W. O. W.!

sooooooooooooo saddddd she was an amazing person :( :(
but that would hurt......if u thinkabout it :P

i wonder if its true?

omg. wow poor jenny. i had a dog named jenny and she died in a fire 2. brah dats really scary. i actually cried :(! oh ya sad 2. spine tingling :((

i feel so bad 4 her :( she didnt deserve it :(

its a good story and it is funny

thats sad i fell bad poor jenny

Why didn't she just stop, drop, and roll? I man realy! If you were on fire, woudn't you do that?

thats why fire can't be trusted >:O

its a good story, but seiresly, why didnt you stop, drop, and roll, Jenny? :o



this is a really sad one. :/

poor jenny n my nickname is jenny

Stop...drop...and roll

i have to ammit this was a pretty good story,not scary but interesting.
better than that stupid story i read last time

Why must the good die young?
poor3x Jenny! but creepy!

sad and scary

thats a siad story:~(

thats a siad story:~(

i've actually been there and i saw waas super creepy... o.O

I only read a paragraph of this for my homework
If i had this book myself i would recomend it to someone because its a awsome book or page/paragraph to read.
my friends have said they would by this book

it's not scarry.. but it is oh so sad.. :(

sooooo sad and scary poor jenny im so telling everyone at school :(

relly scary i bleaive.

This is actaully a haunted destination in wv its in my guide to haunted wv book um... She's supposed to be a real ghost

this story wasnt scary it was cool i want to go to the train station and look for jenny JK

I told this to my friend Jessica and i put her name in.... she was screaming she wuz so scared!!!! hahahahahahaha

OMG sooo sad. She went out of her way to help people and then she catches fire then gets run over by a TRAIN??? How rong is that!!!

good story but sad :(


To bad she never heard of stop,drop and roll!!! lol

Poor Jenny :/ I'll save u Jen!

I've heard this story before. I hate it when bad things happen to good people. :/

I wonder wat train station it was i want to go see :P xx Im joking guys

that was such a good story!!! i loved it!! :)

Awwwwwww poor jenny :(

ok, !!!!!!creepy!!!!!!

I live right near harpers ferry, i know the place like the back of my hand. I've been to the harpers ferry train station probably a hundred times, and I know exactly which turn their talking about... Creeeeepyyyyy.

poor jenny):

That's not really scary, but really sad. :-(

hahaha thisz isz szo beaszt

POOR Jenny

Wow!! What a GREAT story!! I was telling this story to my sister and she said " why did that freak not stop drop and roll???" I wonder what would happen if she was saved??? She would of died anyways.. : )

Come on Jenny!!!! All you have to do is stop drop and roll not run into a frickin train staition!!!!!!!

it is sad but i think Jenny died a good person. Thats how i want to die. Not burning to death but being known. Probably hard to understand but...

simple Stop drop roll

awe this is so sad, why things like this happen to good people i dont know

i feel like crying right now.for all the people who think this story was a joke screw u.i mean y did this happen to jenny she didnt deserve wat heppened to her.8(if i could i would help JENNNY TOO BAD I LIVE IN MIAMI FLORIDA.WEN DID SHE DIE ANYWAY.

that was a happy story jenny finally got revenge! yeh okay i admit it was soooooooooooooooooooooooo saddddddddddddddddddz1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SCARY & SAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This would scare me if I saw/heard this. Even in the middle of the day. especially late at night.

Why!!!!!!?????????????? why Jenny? (dumb fire)

awsome story, but why did she have to die like that?

I thought it was scary and i'm not going to get a fireplace or use one ever again!!!!!:o

Aw. Poor Jenny, I'm so telling this to my friends when spring break is over!

i live in WV and have visted the place! its pretty creepy and really sad

This is more sad than scary :'(

so sad she helped alot of people but still was forgotten

omg poor jenny the wierd thing is is that my name is jenny and I live right next to there but its still not scary its more sad

just sad

it is scary and sad i hope she doesn't scare me though.

i fill bad for jenny escpically how her family forgot about her that was really wrong who dose that

this is so sad poor jenny :,(


That's an amazing story! It it true?? :O x

This wasn't scary or sad.Everyone who thinks this is scary,you are VERY easily scared.

Why didn't she just stop,drop,and roll?

That's really sad. (I know it's just a story but...) she seemed so nice and careing. She didn't deserve such a horrible death!

AWWWWWWWWWWWW POOR JENNY!! this is scary im soo telling this at my sleepover!!!

poor jenny

Ohmygod! Poor Jenny. Almost made me cry I felt so bad for her!

i love this scary story. i shoudld say. poor mary and this is a sad

wow sad and way scary

Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh I don't want to go to bed lol:(

jenny is the name of my girlfriend how nice is that!.

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Schlosser, author of the Spooky Series

About the Author: S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series by Globe Pequot Press, as well as the Ghost Stories deck by Random House.  She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of "let's pretend" quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children's Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author. Read more

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