CAIRO, W.Va. – Along the North Bend Rail Trail, there is an old train tunnel that is said to be haunted by a lady in a white dress.
Before the Civil War, the Rail Trail was–as the name implies–a railroad. According to West Virginia State Parks, the railroad was sold in the ’80s, and construction of the recreation trail as we know it began. The trail stretches 72 miles and has 10 tunnels. The tunnel in this legend is also known as Tunnel #19. According to BridgeHunter.com, the tunnel is 1,376 feet long. Locals say that the tunnel is almost permanently damp and foggy.
The legend of the lady in the white dress goes that she was a bride who was riding on a train with her groom, and either she was pushed or fell from the train and died. Train engineers would often see her standing in or beside the tunnel.
“And there’s a saying that goes along with the tunnel. If you watch the trains, and the train slows down, they see the ghost, and the engineer has never seen the white lady before, but if the engineer just barrels on through the tunnel, he has had an experience with the ghost, and he’s not going to take it anymore,” explained Jason Burns, a West Virginia storyteller, “Because the ghost has a habit of standing in the tracks, and when the train stops to check if it has run over somebody, there is no one there. So the engineer gets ticked off that he has stopped his train for this person who is obviously a ghost, and so they would just barrel through the tunnel as fast as they can next time, so they don’t have to worry about it.”
In one particular instance, an engineer stopped his train a few times, thinking he might have run over somebody. Like the other engineers, the man decided to go quickly through the tunnel to avoid falling for her trick again.
“Well, on the way to the next town, usually there’s people waving at the trains along the tracks anyways at this time period, but he starts noticing that there was an inordinately large amount of people following his train, and some of them are on horseback, and some of them were yelling and waving crazily,” said Burns, “When he finally gets to the town, Proper, and stops his train, there’s this group of people that has literally followed him most of the way down the train tracks, and they’re like, ‘Where is she?’ and he’s like, ‘Where is who?’ and they said, ‘The lady,’ and he was like, ‘What lady?’ and they said, ‘The lady in the white dress,’ and he said, ‘you mean the ghost back in the tunnel?’ They said, ‘No, the ghost that was riding your cowcatcher for the past two and a half miles.’ Apparently, the ghost had a sense of humor because she was allegedly sitting on the cowcatcher of the train, and if people were standing by watching the train go past, she was waving at them.”