Friday, June 11, 2010

The Legend of Silver Run's Lady In White

Silver Run tunnel photo from Legend Tripping

Silver Run Station is a small, sleepy town, located near Cairo in Ritchie County, tucked away in north central West Virginia. But a century ago, the Silver Run route was a heavily traveled line of the B&O railroad, which regularly crossed the Silver Run (#19) tunnel.

Now the line, abandoned in the 1980's, is a rail-to-trails bicycle byway. But back in the day, its tunnel was the heart of railroader legend.

Early in the 20th century, trains used to roll through the tunnel every hour. It wasn't unknown for them to hit someone on the tracks, usually a drunk who veered into the path of a speeding engine or someone committing suicide by train.

One clear night, an engineer approaching the mouth of the Silver Run tunnel noticed a mist, and out of it emerged a young, distracted woman standing on the tracks with black hair and ghostly white skin, wearing a long, shadowy white gown. In a panic, he hit the brakes, but he knew that he couldn't miss the lady in white, who just turned and stared at the approaching engine.

Just before the train reached her, the lady in white floated up and disappeared. The engineer and his crew searched for a corpse, assuming they had hit her and sent her body flying through the air, but none was found. Writing it off to a hallucination caused by tired eyes and dancing headlights, they finished the run.

But in the following weeks, the same event would sporadically play out, usually during a half moon. The engineer passed on his story, and the B&O officials transferred him to a different line. Ghost indeed!

They replaced him with a skeptic of the tale, an engineer named O'Flannery, a veteran railroader who gave no weight to the tale of an eerie woman haunting the tunnel.

Of course, he ran across her apparition the very night he took over the route, and the story spread after the run. The company told him he'd lose his job if he too was going to pass on tales of a spooked-out tunnel, suspecting it was more a case of tipsy engineers than shadows from the other side, neither being good for business.

O'Flannery swore if he saw her again, he'd run the lady in white down rather than be called on the carpet by his bosses and risk his daily bread.

Well, we all know that he had to see her again. And true to his word, when he did, he kept the pedal to the metal and drove his train right through her.

When he ended his run, his nerves jingling over the experience - what if he had actually run someone down in cold blood? - a buzzing crowd surrounded the engine. B&O workers along the way had reported that O'Flannery's cowcatcher had the body of a woman in white plastered to it, clearly illuminated by his train's massive headlight.

But as he entered the station, a fog covered the train, and when he pulled in, there was no body nor blood to be found. When he heard the story from the folks gathered at the depot, the hard-bitten O'Flannery had enough; he too requested a transfer, and got it without any questions asked.

The company began an inquiry into the Silver Run affair. What came out of the investigation was that some 25 years prior, a woman in a white gown had ridden the train to Silver Run to meet her fiancee and get married. She disappeared after leaving the train; no one had ever heard of her whereabouts since. It was widely assumed that she was the lady in white.

No one actually knew, or at least remembered, who she was, but vague recollections of a jilted bride or foul play on the way to her betrothed were stirred once again.

And the assumption seemed to be a good one. In the 1940's, the skeleton of a woman, still dressed in white shreds, was found stuffed in the chimney of a long deserted house on the outskirts of town. She was given a proper church burial, and after that, she seemed at peace and the lady in white faded into legend.

Or did she? Bikers going through the Silver Run tunnel occasionally report hearing a train whistle and seeing white orbs. And some locals say that on a half-moon night, sometimes the filmy figure of a lady in white can be seen gliding along the old railbed by the Silver Run tunnel...


Anonymous said...

i live three miles from the tunnel and we go there all the time,and we do see her,i have got all kinds of pics of orbs,and we did here the train one night,we do see her almost every time we go there.

Anonymous said...

10-29-10 we went to the tunnel tonight and walk thru after dark it was great. i took my 8yr old son with along with a group of friends. we didnt see the woman in white but we did see some orb's in our pic's. we also went to the silver run cemetary. i'm not sure if she is buried there but thats the local rumor. it was great

annonomys said...

your moms a ghost!!!!!!!

cherie said...

hello i would like to know if the old house is still standing where her body was found and would allso like to know where the grveyard is that she is buried in

Anonymous said...

The house is not there anymore it fell down yrs ago.