Haunts along The Rails

Welcome to the 13 Days of Halloween

mist mountains fog night train dark scary dusk tracks spooky explore squamish
image source: WallHere

 

What’s up, bats and ghouls? We interrupt our regularly scheduled spookiness for this random post, brought to you by my grief. Some of you (especially my avid creepsters) may have noticed that my 13 days countdown posts abruptly stopped this past spooky season. Well, in the midst of celebrating the most wonderful time of year, life happened (sofa king hard), and my sadness over losing someone I love and admire very much had me pushing the pause button on my Halloween blog.

This person was many things to many people but to me, he was “Unc” and I was “the niece.”

When it came to me returning to school at the ripe old age of mind-yuh-biznass and my love of writing, Unc was always there supporting, encouraging, informing, and sometimes even guiding me. And much of this I attribute to my becoming a better writer. He read everything I ever sent him, and his favorite form of long-distance communication was email. “I enjoy reading your emails, you write like you talk, and that’s a true gift,” he told me on more than one occasion. My favorite way to communicate with him, however, was face-to-face: His vast amounts of knowledge, his endless adventures, and his love for trains and Hallmark movies were some of my favorite things to talk about with him. After the funeral, during my 6.5-hour drive home, I had a lot of time to think (and cry), and it was during this drive home on Halloween Day that I landed upon the idea to somehow pay tribute to him.

I decided the 13 Days of Halloween was the perfect platform for this tribute because it combines two other things that I love dearly—writing and Halloween.

Now, being that this is a Halloween blog—a Hallmark movie tribute was a hard no. Trains, on the other hand, that I could work with totally. And so, this is how I decided to pay tribute to this remarkable man whom I love very much, and in the process, share some cool shizz about haunted train stuff with my readers (all 7.5 of you—yes, I gained 1.5 of you—not sure about that .5—rather disturbing, actually). So, with that in mind, the next step was to figure out how I was going to factor his love for trains into the spookiness of this most kickass blog. And then it came to me: Trains + Ghosts = Ghost Train i.e. a Haunting good time. Wikipedia gives us a wonderfully articulate and insightful definition of this phenomenon: “In ghostlore, a ghost train is a phantom vehicle in the form of a locomotive or train.” Brilliant—absofuckinglutely brilliant. Insert eye roll here. Anywho, in today’s post, we’ll be doing things a wee bit differently as I will not be providing a movie nor a menu. And before you get all “Penelope” with me—calm yer shite—below you’ll find a recipe for a magical potion to concoct and sip while enjoying this post. But before we get started, let’s get real for just a sec.

I believe it was Stephen King that once said, “Time is the thief of memory.”

Well, I say Stephan King is full of shit. In some circumstances, over time, it’s true that the mind picks up certain memories and packs them away to make room for new memories. But I don’t believe this is the case with moments and people that you love and hold dearly. Instead, you play those memories on repeat, and in the beginning, the pain of loss is so terrible that you can barely manage a breath without feeling the grief scrape along your rib cage. Then suddenly, the jagged, wounded edges soften, and the images and sounds begin to fade, but they never fully go away. And this is something that can only happen with time. So instead of a “thief” maybe time is like a band-aid or a balm to the wound. And if it is a band-aid, I picture mine being purple with little black kitties and skulls on it. (I may or may not have these in my medicine cabinet ATM.)

Or, you know, it’s quite possible that Stephan King is far more brilliant than I (hard to believe though), and what I’m saying is not even remotely close to what he was referring to. Nevertheless (and for the purpose of getting my point across), my interpretation stands because it is the love that drives us. It is love in its purest form that saves us. Maybe that’s why I’m driven to write about such things. Maybe by finally writing this post, my labor of love, I can succeed in expressing a wee bit of my affection for him. And perhaps then, in doing so, immortalize a small part of this wonderful man—to pay homage—to laugh—to mourn—to always remember. Let’s get started.

In this post

  • song of the day
  • famous trains in ghostlore
  • ghost train urban legends
  • road trip
  • sláinte

Song of the Day

“She buys a ticket ’cause it’s cold where she comes from
She climbs aboard ’cause she’s scared of getting older in the snow
Love is a ghost train rumbling through the darkness
Hold on to me darling I’ve got nowhere else to go
‘How do you do?’
She said, ‘How do you do?’
I took the cannonball down to the ocean
Watched the diesel disappear beneath the tumbling waves
Love is a ghost train howling on the radio
‘Remember everything.’ she said, ‘when only memory remains’.”

Famous Trains in Ghostlore

Image result for haunted trains
Creator: MikeyGen73 | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Ghost Train of Stockholm

Built in the 60s, the Silverpilen was a train used by Stockholm metro for backup during rush hour times. And because the train was never painted green like the rest of the metro trains, it was looked upon as an oddity from the start. Now, the legend goes that if someone hopped aboard this train, they wouldn’t be able to disembark and would, in fact, continue to travel forever. According to one article I read, “. . . some legends tell it that the Silverpilen only appears once annually at midnight and that its passengers consist of the deceased who had empty expressions on their faces.” Yikes! Now, this next legend I have trouble with as it accounts sightings of the train picking up passengers on unused railway lines. Umm, what the hell are people doing hanging out at unused railways? Better yet, why the hell would anyone think it would be a good idea to hop a train that pulls up on an unused railway line?? I mean, it can’t just be me thinking this stuff—you see it too, right? Here’s another legend account from the article that has me curious: “Other people spread stories of how they boarded the Silverpilen against their will and would ride the train for months and later get dropped in the ghostly station of Kymlinge.” How were they unwillingly made to board? A malevolent conductor?? Compulsion?? A bad batch of weed? This fascinates me, dudes.

St. Louis Light

So the St. Louis ghost light is a light that appears in a location where there used to be train tracks but are no longer. And although there are variations of the legend, there’s one that dates back to the 20s: It’s said a “Canadian National Railway conductor was out examining the train tracks one night when he was decapitated by a train.” A vlogger actually captured the phenomenon on camera. So, I’m gonna let you decide for yourself. Check it out—

Phantom Funeral Train (Abraham Lincoln)

So, let’s talk about the train that carried Lincoln’s coffin. The train actually carried two coffins—the one of Lincoln and the other of the exhumed body of Lincoln’s son. The train trip carried them from Washington D.C. to Illinois. Now, here’s where it gets good: the train’s route passed through Albany, New York, and there have since been accounts (one dating all the way back to 1832) by Albany area railroad men that a phantom version of the train has been seen traveling the funeral route on the anniversary of the trip. Legend has it that the train itself became a ghost. How cool is that?? According to one site, “Some paranormal enthusiasts believe Lincoln’s ghost train still rolls through Albany—perhaps even making the entire journey from Washington to Illinois. An additional bit of folklore concerning the train is that as it goes by, it stops clocks and watches in the surrounding area.” Here, an excerpt (from an article dating back to 1872) found in the book Ghosts of Lincoln: Discovering His Paranormal Legacy by Adam Seltzer, gives an actual accounting of the phenomenon:

“He then told of the phantom train that every year comes up the road, with the body of Abraham Lincoln. Regularly in the month of April about midnight, the air on the track becomes very keen and cutting. On either side it is warm and still; every watchman when he feels this air steps off the track and sits down to watch. Soon after, the pilot engine with long black streams, and a band with black instruments playing dirges, and grinning skeletons sitting all about, will pass up noiselessly, and the very air grows black. If it is moonlight, clouds always come over the moon, and the music seems to linger as if frozen with horror.”

Uh muh guh! Can you dig it?! Now, whether you believe in this sort of shit or not (and I’m suspecting you do, otherwise why the hell would you find yourself visiting my blog), you gotta admit this is a pretty cool story.

Ghost Train Urban Legends

This is a good time. Might I suggest whipping up a batch of the featured beverage before watching?

Okay, so how many of you want to research this shizz further? Right? And, yes, I’m aware that I shared the part 2 video without sharing the part 1 first. So what! Really, creepsters, I shouldn’t have to do all the work! 

 

Road Trip

Image result for ghost train
image source: mentalfloss.com

Now if you’d like to “get yah spook on” railroad style, here are a few options I found. And I’m going to take a sec to point out (for all you Penelopes out there) that these are not actually haunted trains. These spooky rides are strictly for entertainment purposes and should not be targeted for séances nor exorcisms. 

Midwest Haunted Rails 

I selected this first pick in honor of Unc as this scary good time can be found in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa at the Midwest Central Railroad. This annual haunt of a jaunt takes place on weekends in October and if the fact that this train of terror is pulled by one of the Midwest Central Railroad’s collection of vintage diesel locomotives isn’t enough to have you clamoring for a seat, how about the fact that your price of admission includes unlimited rides and—annnnnd—a spin on the Haunted Steam Carousel. YASSSSS!

Haunted Express

I chose this one for the BFF as it can be found at Allaire State Park, New Jersey. This annual freakout has been a park tradition for decades and operates on the weekends in October (weather permitting). Now, the reason it stipulates “weather permitting” is because this trip scares up a stroll through the haunted woods of Allaire State Park. The-hell-you-say! So if you’re looking for a “shit yer pants kinda night,” don’t bother trying to purchase tickets in advance because they only sell ’em at the gate.

Terror Train

So, a few years back I went on this Terror Train excursion with a few friends. We started off at a local brewery, that was fun, and then boarded the train—row by row all of us in our Halloween finery. That was actually a pretty awesome sight to behold. However, unless you had a flask or decided to post-up (and never leave your spot—ever) at one of the few bars on the train, easy access to alcohol did not occur. The train ride itself was cool—if your idea of a good time on a “terror train” is a lackadaisical meandering up the coast of the North Shore. However, once the train reached its destination (another bar), passengers were able to disembark and get their freak on with some live music and a complimentary meal. Unfortunately, the merging of passengers with the locals that were already having a groovin’ time there brought this bar to capacity and standing room only. These things, coupled with the fact that I was the most hungover I’d been since I won a vodka guzzling contest in high school, made this trip underwhelming—to say the least. And even if I hadn’t been hungover AF, quite honestly, the only thing terrifying about this train trip was the upkeep of the bathrooms—puke! So the question is—would I hop aboard this “terror train” again? If I was with my favorite bats and ghouls and had a couple of well-smuggled flasks on my person, and (most importantly) wasn’t ridiculously hungover—perhaps.

 

Sláinte

Ambrosia

I chose this drink recipe for two reasons: 1. Because, goddammit, I want everyone I love to live forever. And 2. It’s Midori, bruh, and that’s a good time.

 

Bonus

A Psalm of Life

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – 1807-1882

What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
   “Life is but an empty dream!”
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
   And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
   And the grave is not its goal;
“Dust thou art, to dust returnest,”
   Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
   Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
   Finds us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
   And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
   Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
   In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
   Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
   Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,–act in the living Present!
   Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
   Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
   Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
   With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing
   Learn to labor and to wait.
 

Until next time . . .

Happy Haunting

Image result for spooky train gif

 

 

 

 

Feature image source
https://www.dhgate.com/product/terror-train-5d-diamond-embroidery-diy-diamond/413082294.html

 

 

 

 

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