1928 - Alderson High School - 1968




Ghost Train

October 5, 2015

This story is from a book entitled "The Mountains Speak", by Edwin Ott. It was published in 1969 by Fairlea Print Shop, Fairlea, West Virginia.

Alderson has been the location of some spectacular train wrecks in the old days of railroading. One of them had a side incident which enters the realm of the supernatural.

Mohler's Curve lay a mile below Alderson, and the stretch of track was a treacherous one. The date was October 4, 1881. The time was 1 o'clock in the morning. Through the darkness roared Engine 112, pulling a heavy freight train. Coming from the opposite direction thundered Engine 110, also dragging a train of freight cars.

Somehow, the night signal operator in the tower at Alderson failed to hold the west bound train until the eastbound had passed. The two behemoths pounded toward each other on a single track. When they met head on in a terrifying roar of escaping steam and crashing steel, it had happened too fast for the crew of Engine 110 to jump. The engineer and fireman both died.

The impact smashed both locomotives to unrecognizable heaps of twisted metal, piled cars 50 feet high, and spread destruction over several hundred yards of the railroad right-of-way. A brakeman was found alive under a mound of 500 crossties. Some trainmen were hurled 50 feet through the air by the impact, yet miraculously survived. Several were killed outright, however.

Now for the supernatural happening, often related by J. H. Hoover of Alderson, head brakeman on the eastbound freight pulled by Engine 112. He was sitting on top of a car some distance back in the bright moonlight. He looked across the bottomland toward the river, and suddenly, out where there were no tracks, but where such a thing could not be, there stood a phantom locomotive with headlight burning, and on the engine side the numerals "110".

Brakeman Hoover made his way to the front of his train and told the engineer and fireman what he had seen. He said he believed the vision to have been a warning.

A few moments later he saw the gleam of approaching headlights as Engine 112 went into Mohler's Curve. Then he jumped and rolled down the embankment, an instant before the two trains crashed together. A short time after, he was able to climb back up to the tracks and view the wreck. He was certain of the number he would see on the westbound engine, and he was right. The number was 110. "Then and there," said Brakeman Hoover, "I quit railroading."

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