Growing Up West Virginia Presents: Haunted State Parks!
North Bend State Park Rail Trail: Silver Run Tunnel.
In 1910 a young train engineer was making the 169-mile midnight run between Grafton and Parkersburg, West Virginia. It was a dark and foggy night when he spotted an individual staring into the entrance of Tunnel 19. He blew the whistle to try and warn the person, but it was too late. With emergency brakes screeching, the train hit what seemed to be a pale young woman with black hair, wearing a white wedding dress.
Bringing the train to a stop, the engineer and firemen unsuccessfully found her remains. They reported the incident to the watchmen at the Smithburg Tunnel and described it as if the fog swallowed her body.
Almost a month after the engineer reported the sighting, he was assigned the same excursion. As he approached Tunnel 19, she appeared. Instead of looking into the tunnel, she was now staring back at him. He blew the warning whistle. She never moved. As the train struck her, a moan bellowed from her body. This time he was able to make out what she was wearing; golden slippers, a jeweled brooch, and a white wedding dress.
The story of Tunnel 19 quickly spread between the engineers and along the rail line. Trains would slow not to hit her, and some nearly wrecked trying to stop in time. Engineer O’Flannery once reported saying if he ever saw her, he wouldn’t slow; he would plow right through her.
One Autumn night, O’Flannery approached Tunnel 19. Laughing at the thought of the rumors of the Pale Lady, he never slowed. Then to his utmost surprise, she appeared. In complete disbelief, he never braked. The train plowed into her. She let out an explosive shriek and vanished into the air. When O’Flannery pulled into Parkersburg, people came waving their hands to get him to stop. He then learned telegraphs were sent into Parkersburg, describing a corpse of a Pale Lady riding atop the cowcatcher of his train. But, once investigated, there was no woman to be found.
People now wanted to know the identity of the Pale Lady. As an investigation began, multiple stories arose. One such story was of a young lady who was to marry in Parkersburg but never arrived. Having cold feet, did the bride-to-be decide not to marry? Did something sinister happen and she never reached her destination? Or, did an accident occur and she fell from the train?
Another story mentioned when Tunnel 19 was getting the roof of the tunnel raised; adjacent to the tunnel, skeletal remains of a woman were discovered. Was this the woman who haunts the tunnel, or were their multiple ghostly entities? Her skeletal remains were moved to an unmarked grave at the Silver Run Cemetery above Tunnel 19.
The story matching the lady’s description entirely is that of a woman found in the cellar, of an abandoned farmhouse. The old farmhouse was being demolished when workers found the remains of a woman. Among her possessions were a wedding dress, gold-colored shoes, and a jeweled brooch. Was the Pale Lady trying to lead others to her grave?
Some believe that the apparitions of Tunnel 19 are not solely of the Pale Lady. Today eerie and haunting tales of Tunnel 19 continue to grow. With the cemetery almost directly above it, has this tunnel become a hot spot for the paranormal?
On your travels along the North Bend Rail Trail, turn off your lights and stroll through Tunnel 19. Try not to let its eerie presents and ghostly inhabitance keep you from entering its void.