Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Huntington's Own Urban Legend

Ask anyone about the tale of the vanishing hitchhiker, and they can cite you a dozen instances for a dozen cities.  Ever since there has been transportation, there has been the tales of the vanishing hitchhikers.  As far as urban legends go, this one is at the top of my list...the quintessential ghost story of a phantom hitchhiker who disappears before being dropped off at her destination.  She may have gone from hailing horse-drawn carriages to automobiles, but her plight is still as prevalent as it ever was.

While many people have heard these stories passed around for years, not many people are aware that Huntington, WV has its OWN version of the timeless classic occuring on Fifth Street Hill, a main thoroughfare between Huntington and Wayne County.  The young girl only appears late at night, after midnight, and always when the weather is rainy and dreary. She's always waiting at the top of the hill, thumbing a ride down. 

The first published account of this tale comes from an October 30th, 1942 newspaper article, in which a Black and White Cab driver tells of his eerie encounter.  Around 4:30am, the driver dropped off a fare at a dance hall, and was making his way back into Huntington, when he was hailed by a young woman wearing nothing but a thin blouse and skirt, despite the chilly weather.  He picked her up, and when asked about her lack of a coat, the young lady replied that she hadn't worn a coat for 9-10 years.  She asked to b dropped off at the bottom of the hill, and when they arrived, the driver noticed the woman was missing from the cab.

The driver came back to the garage to complain to his supervisor about being cheated a quarter's fare...what he got was the shock of hearing that the supervisor had also known drivers from another cab company, Yellow Cab, to have had the exact same experience.  In fact, one driver from that company had the experienc just a year prior.

A second newspaper article reported on the story in November of 1958, and reported that the phantom hitchhiker was still around, scaring up cab drivers, as well as bus drivers who picked her up.  This particular article expanded on the backstory of the ghostly girl's existence.  Apparently, a Huntington couple had taken their daughter and her fiance to Wayne to be married.  All went well, but on the drive home, the rain started falling, making the road quite slick.  At the area where Fifth Street meets the boulevard, right before the bridge, the car turned over, killing the new bride.

More recent interviews with the current Yellow Cab operation have resulted in drivers being familiar with the story, but no reports of anyone picking up the phantom hitchhiker.  Perhaps she finally made her way home?

More information available in Joseph Plantania's Huntington Quarterly article

Update Summer 2012:  While the tale of the lonely bride of 5th Street Hill is tragic enough, there is another terrible story that hails from this area, concerning a young boy who was tragically shot by a playmate.  I've transcribed the article concerning the shooting HERE, and you can find out this location has had an impact on the haunted history in Theresa's new book, Haunted Huntington, Volume 1!

5 comments:

  1. I don't believe she has made it home, I think she is still here, I do live up by the Huntington museum of art and there are still a few who claim to have a seen a girl thumbing for a ride. They never pick her up out of common day fears of being murdered. But I digress, I think she is still out there waiting for more 'friendly' people to pick her up.

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  2. There should be ghosts around four pole creek because of an Indian raid in 1790.

    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wvcccfhr/history/indian.htm

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  3. My Uncles were going to work on a rainy April night and picked up this girl by the time they got to the bottom of the hill she was gone. It shock them up pretty bad.

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    1. I can imagine that it would take some time to process an event that is NOT supposed to be possible. Thanks for sharing your uncles' story!

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