Sunday, March 20, 2011

North Bend State Park

Tunnel 19 (Silver Run) photo from Outdoor Travels

North Bend State Park, in Ritchie County, West Virginia, is named for the horseshoe curve of the North Fork of the Hughes River. The park features fishing streams, a 305 acre lake, hiking trails, and critters galore. And it sports a trio of West Virginny wraiths.

The first is from an old wildcatter's tale. Back at the turn of the century, the parkland was still private property and the site of several oil wells. One of the rigs, pumping near the current Jug Handle Campground, blew up, ripping one of the roughnecks to bits. His brother workers gathered up his remains and buried the unfortunate soul - except for his head, which they never found.

A small dirt lane known as Park Road was serviced by a turn-of-the-century jitney driver, who rode the well workers to and from their jobs. One day he felt a bounce while driving his wagon, and looked back to see who was bumming a free ride. It was the bloody figure of a headless man, who we assume was looking for a lift back home. Good luck with that, although he must have made it to wherever he wanted to go, as he's not been seen since.

Then there's the sad saga of blind Ed Koons, who lived near what is now the park entrance. Not only was he sightless, but married to a true shrew, with the mother-in-law also sharing the crib. Aye carumba! Life was not very kind to Ed, and having had his fill, he tossed a rope over a tree, slipped his head in the noose and hung himself.

According to local legend, Ed Koon is still hanging around. To this day, people have reported seeing his body dangling from that tree, outlined by their headlights. Park pedestrians have claimed that they've seen his spook on the gravel path leading to the lodge, near the spot of his sad ending.

Teens parking near the park entrance - it's a local lover's lane - reported hearing pounding on their vehicles, and when they got out to see what was up, all they found were handprints on their car. Most suspect that the prints belong to Koon, probably frustrated that others have the kind of relationship with their girls that he never enjoyed in life (or maybe he's just being ornery, who knows?)

Today, the state park is known for its 72 miles of rail trails, a series of old railroad beds and tunnels that are now used for hiking and biking. It's Tunnel 19 (the Silver Run Tunnel), where Ritchie County's most popular ghost is said to roam.

First, a little cemetery lore. There's an old graveyard at the top of the hill by the tunnel entrance. It was the final stop for workers who lost their lives building the tunnel, and is supposed to be a very active paranormal spot. But that's not the headliner.

A "Lady In White" has been seen in the tunnel, going back to railroad days and continuing into the present. The tunnel itself has cold spots and is claimed to look illuminated inside without any light source. Her story, in brief:

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. None of the locals actually knew, or at least remembered, who she was, but vague recollections of a fatal fall from the train platform, jilted brides and foul play were roiled once again from the dusty past.

It was widely assumed that she was the alleged lady in white.

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, and that seemed to answer their questions. The remains were 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 love ghosts and im gonna see if its true.

Ron Ieraci said...

Anon - let us know how your trip works out.

Unknown said...

You just made these up. The park entrance is not, in any way, a lovers lane and you'd know that if you'd ever seen the entrance. The only truth is the Silver Run tunnel.