CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Old, dark and creepy—maybe it’s safe to assume that some of the tunnels along West Virginia’s old railroads are haunted. But according to legend, there are a few that are especially spooky.
Brandy Gap Tunnel #2 – Harrison County
Also called Flinderation Tunnel for the nearby road, Brandy Gap Tunnel #2 is along the North Bend Rail Trail in Salem, Harrison County and was originally build for the B&O Railroad, which was shut down in the 1980s. Since its closure, people have reported hearing trains decades after the railroad was shut down and seeing orbs while walking through. Legend says that a railroad worker was hit by a train and killed in the tunnel, but very little information about the accident is verifiable.
The Enon Baptist Church Cemetery is situated just up the hill from the tunnel, and some attribute the strange voices and noises they report seeing to the ghosts of the people buried there. It has become a popular destination for ghost hunting, likely in part because of its spooky appearance and convenient closeness to Route 50 and parking along the rail trail. Parking to visit the tunnel is available at Wolf Summit and East Salem.
Dingess Tunnel – Mingo County
Located in Mingo County, the Dingess Tunnel has a violent history. According to the Tug Valley Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, the tunnel was built in 1892 by Norfolk & Western Railway during a railway expansion, but the people living in the area—known as “Twelve Pole Creek” at the time, according to the Bureau—were not happy about non-white rail workers coming into the area. Stories say that locals would sit at the entrance to the tunnel, which later became known as “Bloody Mingo” and ambush people with guns, according to the Bureau. Although no official records exist, it is estimated that hundreds of people were killed in that way.
The Tug Valley Area Convention & Visitors Bureau also says that after two major fatal train wrecks in 1898 and 1905, travelers began using routes that were considered safer; the rail became inactive in 1913 and is now a spooky, single-lane, nearly-mile-long road that serves as the main access road to the community of Dingess.
Hempfield Tunnel – Ohio County
Located along the Wheeling Heritage Trail, Hempfield Tunnel, sometimes called Tunnel Green, is believed the be haunted by a man murdered inside and by people who were buried at the site before it was even built. The tunnel goes under a portion of the Penninsula Cemetery, and some people refuse to go through the tunnel because they believe the moisture coming from the ceiling, which some describe as green goo, is from the corpses that were not removed.
However, the main ghost that tales say exists in the tunnel is a murder victim of the Hatchet Slayer. German immigrant Joseph Eisele, who is also believed to have murdered at least two other in Parkersburg, was executed by hanging in Wood County. Legend says that his Wheeling victim, Alois Ulrich was killed after suffering multiple blows to the head with a hatchet. Ulrich’s body was then dumped in the culvert near one end of the tunnel, and he is now believed haunt Hempfield Tunnel.
Silver Run Tunnel #19 – Ritchie County
Located between Cairo and Petroleum on the North Bend Rail Trail, Silver Run is probably the most difficult tunnel to get to on this list. It’s already particularly spooky due to the bend in the tunnel; if you’re standing in the middle of it, you can’t see either end and it’s completely dark. Legends say that the tunnel is haunted by the ghost of a woman in a white dress who abandoned at the alter by her lover and then killed by a passing train. Train conductors reported seeing the woman in the center of the tracks inside the tunnel and said that they hit her, but when they searched for a body, they never found her. Silver Run became notorious among conductors for this woman after several trains stopped, believing they had hit her, and got behind schedule.
Legend says that one conductor decided he wouldn’t stop for the ghost of a woman; when he entered the tunnel, he saw her, sped up and didn’t stop. As the train passed through neighboring towns, people reported seeing a woman in a white dress on the cowcatcher on the front of the train.
For those wanting to visit Silver Run Tunnel #19, it is about three miles from the town of Cairo on the rail trail. Drivers can also take the road Silver Run and park closer to the tunnel, but there is no designated parking area.