Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Fiddling Ghost of Mahoning Valley


Two men who worked on the Rochester & Pittsburgh railroad being built through 19th century Indiana County shared a small house. One of them was an avid fiddler who played the local dances, barn-raisings, and other social events of the day.

He played his tunes at home, too, early in the morning and late at night. He showed no consideration at all for his roomie, who apparently didn't share his love of fiddle music.

The manic fiddler was found stabbed to death one day by fellow railroaders after he didn't show up for work. His fiddle was smashed to pieces and the bow snapped in two. His roommate was nowhere to be found, no doubt off to quieter (and further from the long reach of the law) locales.

It's said you can see the old fiddler on the roof of his deserted house, still sawing away to this day. You can even hear his weird, eerie melody floating through the air. He's been called the noisiest ghost in Indiana County.

One report places this haunting in Smicksburg, but the original site of the town has been razed so the spook doesn't have a roof left to fiddle from there. Besides, it's not likely the Amish farmers would be hosting English railroaders in their tight knit community, though they may still be tapping a foot to his tunes.

Many of the region's folk tales, including this one, are set down in That's What Happened by local folklorist Frances Strong Helman. Regional historian George Swetnam also related this story in a long ago edition of the now defunct Pittsburgh Press.

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