Monday, January 22, 2018

Haunted Richmond – A Handful of Richmond Ghosts, Part 2

October 27, 2010 by  

Continued, because Richmond has so many cool ghost stories that we just can’t stop.  We told you about the Executive Mansion ghost, and about the ghosts at The Old Stone House, but we left out some of the most famous Richmond ghosts of all.  Not to deprive you, here you go.

The Church Hill Tunnel

In the early 1870’s, the C & O Railway decided to build a tunnel underneath Church Hill.  Makes sense, getting from one end of the Hill to the other, without having to go around, but the tunnel was wrought with troubles from the beginning.  Building the tunnel proved easier said than done.  See, Church Hill was not situated on top of bedrock, like most of the other hills that C & O built tunnels through.  Instead, our hills are filled with blue marl clay.  This made construction a nightmare, and about ten workers died trying to build the tunnel.

Church Hill Tunnel open

The tunnel always had seepage problems, but in 1925 the railroad wanted to utilize it, so they decided to go in and repair and reinforce the tunnel.  On October 2, 1925 the tunnel collapsed on a work train and killed at least two, if not more workers.

When the collapse happened, the men were in total darkness, with debris falling all around them.  They screamed and cried out, but some never found their way out.  The tunnel was sealed in 1926, burying the work train and whatever bodies that went undiscovered.

Church Hill Tunnel

photo by lawrence_thefourth

For years, at the beginning of October, residents and visitors swore they could hear a ghostly train whistle coming from the sealed up tunnel.  Other times, people have heard the cries coming from the men who were trapped, faint and muffled cries of men who died long ago.

Hollywood Cemetery

The Richmond Vampire

One spooky aspect of Hollywood Cemetery is closely tied to the Church Hill Tunnel collapse.  Rescue teams reported coming upon a man who was hunched over one of the tunnel victims.  He was not dressed like a railway worker.  When he stood up, the people said that he had blood around his mouth, and that two fangs protruded from his mouth.  The legend says that the man fled, with people chasing after him.  He reportedly fled all the way to Hollywood Cemetery (that’s a looong way) and disappeared into a tomb marked W.W. Poole.  The door was locked, and the people who chased the bloody-mouthed man couldn’t get the door open.  They asked the cemetery caretaker to open the doors, but he refused.  From this came the legend of the Richmond Vampire.


The legend of the Richmond vampire, of course, is oral history, and three is, of course, a rational, and non-vampire explanation, but that’s no fun, is it?  We’ll save that for a different post.

The Ghost Dog

I’ll report this story as I heard it from an ancient Oregon Hill resident back in 1994.  This woman told me that the cast iron dog stood outside of the drugstore and soda shop on the corner of Laurel and Main.  Other reports said that it stood out front of a store on Broad Street.  Either way, a little neighborhood girl would come to the store and pet the statue and talk to it just as if it were a real dog.

Black Dog

There was a flu epidemic in 1892 and the little girl’s body was interred at Hollywood Cemetery.  The owners of the store where the statue of the dog had stood donated the dog to look over the little girl’s grave.  People have said that the dog emanates a menacing air when someone steps too close to the girl’s grave, and that at night, you can hear the sound of a dog running around the cemetery, panting.

Ellen Glasgow

Ellen Glasgow was a Richmond native, and a novelist who wrote twenty novels and won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1942.  She died in November of 1945, and one of the instructions in her will was that her two beloved dogs who had died several years before be dug up from her back yard and buried with her.  Her wishes were fulfilled, and nighttime visitors to the cemetery swear they can hear small dogs roaming around the cemetery at night.  Are they hearing Ellen Glasgow’s dogs, or the dog that protects the little girl?


Civil War Ghosts

Over 18,000 Civil War veterans are interred at Hollywood Cemetery.  11,000 are unknown soldiers, fallen in the battle of Gettysburg.  Legend has it that during a full moon one can hear moans coming from the pyramid – moans from soldiers who will never find rest because their deaths went unrecorded.  Others will tell you that it’s possible to hear such sounds in broad daylight, and that even in the bright summer sun a chill can run down your spine that will, for that moment, make you believe in ghosts.

Read Part one of Richmond Ghosts

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