Please share with us any spooky/scary railroad experiences you've encountered.


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In 1985, summer, I was riding Caltrans, still then pulled by a Geep, down the Peninsula of San Francisco at night and a hell of a racket was heard. It sounded like a million hail stones hitting the train at once. Not long afterward the train stopped. A little while later, the conductor reported to us on board that a brake line came loose. That explains the sound of gravel from the road getting hit by the loose brake pipe. The air pressure must have sent gravel upward to hit the train. A woman remarked that it was a good thing that the train did not derail. Soon, the train travelled on without further incident.

In the early summer of 1984 and late at night, I walked through a train tunnel in San Rafael, California. I was 20 at the time. I pushed my off-red Schwinn 5-Speed World Tourist bicycle through the tunnel at night in the dark. My bike did have a headlight I used as a flashlight. I had no dog, no human companion and no gun with me. I did that as a test of bravery. That tunnel is about a half mile long. It was an SP line that terminated in Sausalito, CA but I did not know then if that line was still active. I was taking a devil of a chance. What if a train did come then? What if there were bad persons or animals in that tunnel? Can you imagine watching Wolfen and then walking right afterward through a dark rail tunnel at night? That creepy dark tunnel walk was fortunately uneventful except there was graffiti on the tunnel wall near the south portal that said, "I conquered this tunnel". Probably some brave tunnel walker decided to make his mark there.

In 1985, there was a then-new Steven King film called "Silver Bullet". In the beginning, a drunken lone railroad worker in a speeder (Ralph Waite of The Waltons) gets beheaded by the monster while working in a remote part of the section. I have often thought since then that there must be some creepy places on parts of railroads. Imagine having to get off your engine in some dark forest at night and work a switch. EEEK! Imagine working in a remote part of the line where Bigfoot sightings were purported. I would want at least one human buddy with me or a trusty German shepherd near me in that situation.

I can also imagine there might be creepy parts of railroads in even big cities. Large rail yards at night might be scary or even dangerous.

In Trainz, I have routes made on the themes of the Pacific Northwest in America. They have mountains, ranches, canyons, rivers, lakes, farms and thick timber. Very rural settings and a real trip at night to play. There are eerie sounds like owl hoots, wolf howls and cougar yowls. My heart palpitates just Trainzing at night in the dark woods. It is romancing the rails by the light of the moon or on a moonless night even. Fantasy choo-choo play.

Trains have long been associated with old-fashioned spookiness, folklore and ghost stories. I don't believe in ghosts, however. There are dangerous living members of the animal kingdom in this world that are for real.
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I never did anything that stupid. I always respected the railroad, ROW and the people that work hard to keep it operational.
I never did anything that stupid. I always respected the railroad, ROW and the people that work hard to keep it operational.

In 1979, I was in the 9th grade. My English teacher shared with his class a story about how his group walked through a rail tunnel and a passenger train came through. Each and every person in his group stood with their backs flat against the wall motionless as the train passed. It was rather scary I suspect. I would have laid down flat against the wall face down with my ears plugged with my hands. The toxic locomotive smoke is another hazard. I was in pretty good shape in 1984. I think I could have beat any train I might have heard approaching the 1/2 mile long tunnel by making a mad dash for one or the other portal depending how close I were to one of the portals and which direction I perceived the train to be coming. The ground inside this particular tunnel was rather rough with uneven ballast to pedal a road bicycle or even a mountain bike through very fast. I would say it is prudent to not walk through tunnels unless you know for sure that the rail line is not active.

I used to walk on (active) railroad tracks a lot around my home in Novato, CA in my youth, sometimes for many miles. Sometimes to even take a shortcut walking home. The SP line. Never got caught nor got in trouble. Back in 1982, one fall night, I was walking across a bridge over a marsh with my family dog, a Doberman pinscher. An SP freight train lead by at least one SW-1500 came over the bridge. I was standing on the outside of the railing holding on tight so as not to fall in the swamp and I was holding the dog tight against the railing on the leash. The train passed and it was somewhat hairy for both my dog and I but it was fortunately uneventful. The train creeping along never stopped nor tooted its whistle. One time along that same line, I saw an older strange man walking passed me and my dog on the track. He said nothing and I said nothing. The man looked like a classic hobo, perhaps a village idiot, the way he was dressed.

Yes, I now realize that a railroad line is not a playground, but many American boys have screwed around on train tracks for over 100 years. It's romancing the rails. I've heard stories from at least one older man who claimed to be a train jumper and wanted me to jump a freight with him. I declined his offer.
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The Hoosac Tunnel in Western Massachusetts is one of the most dangerous tunnels to walk through. The tunnel is straight, but it's not flat to allow water to drain out from each end. There are air shafts placed along it's 1-mile length and there's even a blower system but that still doesn't stop the CO from building up. The tunnel is also pitch black, not a light to be found anywhere so the only light is the flashlight if you want to walk the tunnel. Even though this tunnel was once double tracked, it's still quite narrow and there is little space to get out of the way. Many people have died out due stupidity.

I too used to walk along the tracks where I lived. The ROW once supported double and triple track in some locations but was stripped down to single track in the mid-1970s. Where there was once track, there was a path that was easily followed without worry about being too close or being squished. Today, that would be impossible because the track was rebuilt to double track and the trains no longer move at 40 to 50 mph and are now at 79 mph for passenger and 50 mph for freight.

In the past, I used to hang out down by the Lawrence MA yard. I wasn't young either and became a fixture there, enough of a fixture to get to know the crews who told me all kinds of stories and even recommended I sign on to work with the Boston and Maine (B&M). While that would've been a job of a lifetime for me, I didn't do it due to traveling for work when Alan Dustin was visiting the area and I missed meeting him and signing on. Alan was the president of the B&M and was the one who brought the railroad out of bankruptcy. It was a good thing I didn't sign on because a few short years later, Guilford Transporation got control of the B&M, Maine Central (MEC), and Delaware and Hudson (D&H) and that was the end of the relatively profitable New England railroads as Guilford destroyed the system in favor of fat profits at the top for its investors. The company busted the unions, cut crews, and cut wages along with maintenance and routes. Engines caught fire more often than not, freight cars toppled over in Lawrence and crews got hurt. After a switchman was killed in Lawrence, a system-wide strike broke out.

I'm glad I didn't sign on as much as I wanted.
This isn't spooky or anything like that, but when I was in my teens, my cousin and I was attending a family event for a family member in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Keep in mind that this was when coal was still coming out of the Appalachian Mountains in train after train of black diamonds. There was a small railyard across from the street from the building the family event was taking place at, and a single empty hopper was in the yard. Me and my cousin used it as a climbing gym, climbing all over it, looking all around it. There were no railroad employees to tell us to stop what we were doing, but we did stay out of the way when a Norfolk Southern Dash 9-40CW came rumbling thru the yard by itself, and we of course waved at the crew as they came thru.
One time I got more and more interested in trains. Then magic happened. I found some software that simulates trains. I purchased it and gave it a try and I had a blast. But then I started visiting the software's forums and weirdness set in. Much weirdness. Trains from all corners of the globe when I was only used to engines that had that cute little kitty logo on it. Chessie I think was her name. How cute and cuddly. But these other behemoths! Oh no. And suddenly instead of "ties" there were "sleepers." And it only got worse!

But then, I took a trip Massillon OH and each room had a "transportation" theme. Here was the actual nameplate on my room. Peace and cuddliness once again! Best nights sleep ever! Chessie! How comforting you are!