North Bend State Park Rail Trail: Silver Run Tunnel
In 1910 a young train engineer was making the 169-mile midnight run between Grafton and Parkersburg, WV. It was dark foggy night when he saw what he thought was an individual standing at the entrance of tunnel 19. He blew the whistle to try and warn the person, but it was too late. With emergency brakes screeching, the train hit what seemed to be a pale young woman wearing a white wedding dress with long black hair.
Once getting the train to a stop, the engineer and firemen jumped from the train to search for her, but she was nowhere to be found. They reported the incident to the watchmen at the Smithburg Tunnel and described it as if the fog surrounding the tracks swallowed her pale body.
Almost a month after she was seen, the same engineer was assigned the same excursion. As he approached tunnel 19, there she was, but this time looking directly at the train. He blew the warning whistle, and she never moved. As the train struck her, a moan came from her ghostly body. This time he was able to get a better look at her, and it seemed that she had on golden slippers, a jeweled brooch, and a white wedding dress.
The story of tunnel 19 started to spread between the engineers and among the people who traveled and lived along the route. Trains would slow not to hit her and some nearly wrecked from trying. Engineer O’Flannery was reported once saying if he ever saw her, he wouldn’t slow; he would plow right through her.
One Autumn night O’Flannery approached tunnel 19. Laughing at the thought of the rumors of the Pale Lady, he never slowed. Then to his utmost surprise, there she was. In complete disbelief, he never braked, plowing the train into her. She let out an explosive moan and shot straight into the air. When O’Flannery pulled into Parkersburg people came waving their hands as to get him to stop. He then learned that telegraphs were sent into Parkersburg, that his train had a woman stuck on the cowcatcher of the train, but once investigated; there was no woman to be found.
People now wanted to know who the Pale Lady was. As an investigation began, multiple stories started to arise. One such story was of a young lady who was to get married in Parkersburg and never arrived. Having cold feet, did the bride-to-be decide not to get married? Did something sinister happen to her and that is why she never reached her destination? Or, did an accident occur and she fell from the train?
Another story mentioned when Tunnel 19 was getting the roof raised; work was being done around the tunnel when the skeletal remains of a woman were found buried in the woods. Was this the woman that they saw at the tunnel or were their multiple ghostly entities? Her skeletal remains were moved to an unmarked grave at the Silver Run Cemetery almost directly above the tunnel.
The story matching the lady’s description perfectly is that of a woman being found in a cellar. An old abandoned farmhouse was being demolished near the Silver Run Tunnel when workers found her remains. Among her possessions were a wedding dress, gold-colored shoes, and a jeweled brooch. Was the Pale Lady trying to lead others to her grave?
Some believe that the apparitions of Tunnel 19 are not solely of the Pale Lady. Today they are tales of people hearing and seeing different ghostly figures in and around the tunnel. With the cemetery almost directly above it, has this tunnel become a hot spot for the paranormal?