By Taylor Leonard
Over 1.37 million kilometers of railroad crisscross the globe. Of this seemingly endless web of track lay several stretches said to be haunted by ghost trains. Phantom locomotives have been spotted in multiple countries over the years. Though not a prerequisite, ghost trains tend to be associated with tragedy and disaster, as the following examples show:
Tay Bridge Phantom
“The Bridge is down, “the Bridge is down,” in words of terror spread ;
The train is gone, its living freight
Are numbered with the dead.
On the night of December 28th, 1879, 80 mph winds ripped apart the enclosed midportion of the Old Tay Bridge as a train carrying 75 souls crossed the section. Everyone on board died in a tragedy ultimately attributed to poor bridge design. After inquiries and safety revaluations the bridge was rebuilt and remains upright to this day.
On the anniversary of the disaster it’s said the doomed train reappears on the bridge. Witnesses report hearing screams as the apparition tumbles into the waters below before fading away entirely.
Pittsfield Ghost Train
Employees and patrons of John Quirk’s Bridge Diner in Pittsfield, Massachusetts were startled to see a steam train rumbling past their windows full speed not once but on two separate occasions. For one, it was 1958 and steam trains hadn’t been in operation for decades. Furthermore, the tracks running alongside the diner were not part of an active rail line.
It’s believed these two events may be associated with an 1893 train wreck which occurred 30 miles to the east in the town of Chester in which 15 passengers were killed. The train was traveling from Chicago to Boston and Pittsfield had been the only stop. Why the apparitions occurred twice in one year and never again is a mystery.
Ghost Train of Bostian Bridge
Another bridgerelated train wreck of the late 19thcentury, the Bostian Bridge incident was the worst trainrelated disaster in North Carolina history when it occurred in 1891. 23 people died in the derailment attributed to excessive speed, wherein the train was said to go completely airborne before crashing into the trees below.
Legends persisted for years regarding the train’s ghostly reappearance on the anniversary of the disaster. In 2010 a young man was struck and killed by an actual train while on the hunt for the phantom locomotive. How did he not hear it or see it coming?
Silverpilen (Silver Arrow)
The subway tunnels of Stockholm, Sweden are home to a particular metro train dubbed “Silverpilen” due to its unique aluminum exterior (all the other trains are green.) Mass transit riders only occasionally catch glimpses of the train, if ever, giving rise to numerous urban legends.
One such legend affirms the train can only be seen after midnight, whizzing by platforms without anyone at the controls, and consequently cannot be ridden. Another myth connected to Silverpilen is that those who get on it are never seen again.
The St. Louis Light
There isn’t much to see or do in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. This may explain why there’s been so much attention paid to the socalled St. Louis Ghost Train, or the St. Louis Light, which is said to run along an old rail route outside the village of St. Louis. The phenomenon was featured on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries,and is said to either be an unidentified ghost train or the lantern light of a lost signalman said to have frozen to death in his search to find home.
Two Saskatchewan high schoolers, however, decided to investigate the St. Louis Light as a science project. Their awardwinning conclusion, later duplicated, was that the headlights of cars on a nearby highway were the cause of the bizarre event.
Lincoln’s Funeral Train
Abraham Lincoln, after a life stretching from a log cabin to the White House, became the first US President to be assassinated. It was decided by Lincoln’s family and the powers that be to bury the murdered commanderinchief in his adopted hometown of Springfield, Illinois, rather than in the nation’s capital. The result was a massively orchestrated funeral procession by train throughout much of the northern United States.
On the anniversary of Lincoln’s death it’s said a phantom funeral train is seen running the route originally taken by the dead president’s locomotive. Clocks and watches in towns along the way are said to stop cold as the train passes by.
The world is covered in rails. The overwhelming majority are unmarked by disaster, while some are said to host the manifestation of crashed trains and other remnants of past tragedy. Whether the delusions of bored locals or true spectral phenonomen, reports of ghost trains are found all across the globe.