A Tunnel Under a Graveyard
Aren’t haunted railway tunnels pretty creepy enough all by themselves? Well, there’s one in West Virginia that was dug under a cemetery! This tunnel then became a place for, not just fatal accidents, but at least one grisly murder! Welcome to Wheeling’s Hempfield Tunnel . . .
Enter at your own risk.
I learned about this tunnel from a long article published in the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer back in 1869. It’s become a key source of information on the haunting, and the whole report is reprinted in After the End of the Line: Railroad Hauntings in Literature and Lore. In a nutshell, a small group of tipsy men decided to brave the tunnel. There, they heard echoing “groans and supplications for mercy.” An apparition dropped from the ceiling with a message: “Let the dead rest!” The men ran and managed to get others to return with them to the haunted spot — and the same thing happened!
There’s more. The next day, another man heard about what had happened and then confessed to having had an experience of his own. Presumably more sober, he had been about to enter the tunnel when he too witnessed a specter. Each time, this ghost appeared with a bashed and bloody head. Given that this place was where a man named Joseph Eisele had killed Aloys Ulrich with a hatchet, it’s a fairly good guess that the ghost belongs to that victim. At least, that’s the assumption made by the anonymous Intelligencer reporter, who ends by vouching for the credibility of all of the witnesses while also inviting readers to decide for themselves.
The Tunnel Is Easy to Investigate
I was pleased to find that this tunnel 1) still exists and 2) is easy to visit. In fact, it’s become part of the Wheeling Heritage Trail. Recent articles on websites confirm that, if you find yourself in Wheeling, it might be worth a stroll.
A good place to start is Cassie Bendel’s article “Myth or Legend? The Haunting of Tunnel Green Lives On.” It’s at a site called Weelunk. After quoting from that Intelligencer article, Bendel explains that she was unable to find anyone who has personally encountered anything paranormal in the tunnel. As a result, she walked it herself — with her four-year-old son. All I’ll say is: they made it through. Both ways.
On the Only in Your State website, Robin Jarvis provides some good history in an article titled “You Won’t Want to Explore West Virginia’s Most Haunted Tunnel Alone or at Night.” (Sadly, the rubric used to validate “most haunted” is not discussed.)
Both of these have nice pictures of the tunnel, but there are a few videos on YouTube made by folks who have walked through it. My favorite is this one:
The Restless Dead
The graveyard above the tunnel apparently still exists, too — and it might also be haunted. After decades of trains rumbling beneath, to make way for a highway in 1964, “over 2500 bodies were exhumed and re-interred to several area cemeteries,” according to Find-a-Grave. That piece continues:
Most of the graves were ‘unknown’ as the section that was referred to as the ‘paupers section’ had no records and many were buried there. This section was near the City Pest House off Rock Point Road. It was built to house smallpox patients. The Pest House was torn down in 1933.
It’s probably not surprising that a ghost is said to roam the grounds. I haven’t found much on this above-ground haunting. However, a spectral woman, wears a black cape and defends a particular gravesite, is mentioned here and there.
I’ve been to Morgantown, West Virginia, but never to Wheeling. I’m tempted to plan a trip there. Until then, if you’ve been to this tunnel or happen to visit it before I do, please leave a comment below!