Saturday, November 17, 2012

Was it a Ghost Seen in Barboursville?

While doing some research on a completely different topic, once again I ran into an interesting newspaper article that something in me told me to save.  In fact, its such a small story, located several pages into the publication, that I'm not entirely sure what about it caused me to stop the microfiche reader and take a look.  But, I did, and here's the tale:

From the Huntington Advertiser, September 6, 1945:

Chief Deputy Sheriff One Dunfee reported today that the and aides were unable to find a body along the Chesapeake &  Ohio Railway Co. right-of-way near Barboursville after a freight train engineer had dropped a note to station employees of Barboursville saying that his engine "probably struck a man" just west of that town.  

Tracks and adjacent territory for several miles were searched by the deputies.  A later check-up with residents of the area failed to reveal anyone missing under unusual circumstances.

At first thought, one would assume that there is a logical explanation for this episode.  It is very likely that the engineer is mistaken.  Perhaps the train came close to hitting someone, but that someone made it to safety without major (or any) injury.  It's also likely that perhaps fatigue or other circumstance led him to misidentifying a deer, a tree, or even a simple mirage.

However, I'm a paranormal researcher...and as logical as I try to be, there's always going to be the side of me that WANTS this to be paranormal, lol.  There are so many ghost stories that are linked with the railways and train disasters, and one common theme that has come up in WV ghost-lore many times is the tale of a phantom pedestrian being hit.  Perhaps the most famous of these cases is actually Screaming Jenny from the Harpers Ferry area, who is seen running down the tracks, screaming, as she finds herself engulfed in flames. More than one engineer has claimed to have hit this fiery apparition.

Could there be a chance that this engineer DID hit someone...but that someone was a ghost?  This idea has intrigued me so much, that I'm trying to methodically research if anyone has been hit and killed by a train in that area, perhaps on the anniversary of when this event was reported.  And that is where I need YOUR help loyal readers!  If you have any information, even if its just legends that have been passed down, I'd love to hear them!  I'd love to hear if anyone else has seen or reported a possible pedestrian struck in this area, or if anyone knows of any actual deaths that happened.  I did search the next few weeks' worth of papers, and there was no mention of a body ever turning up, nor any further mention of the case at all....

...but it does bring up another interesting aspect.  If this WAS an actual person that was hit, and a body not found, could that have sparked a new haunting, as an unknown person searches for his own closure to his own death?  Contact me at if you have any information on this subject, and I'll update if I find anything of note.

Photo is of a train near Barboursville in 1955.  Property of the Doors to the Past website, Barry Huffstutler

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