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The Clarksburg Ghost Dog: A Friday Fright Bite

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On January 11, 1869, the Wheeling Daily Register ran a small news item from the city of Clarksburg, West Virginia. The article read:

“They have an original ghost on the railroad near Clarksburg. The spook takes the questionable shape of a black dog with a red ring around its neck, and is impervious to pokers and “sich.”" 

That’s it. That’s all that I could find mentioned, and its somewhat of a head scratcher. What do they mean when they say a red ring around its neck? Like…a collar? I’m sure things are MUCH different today than they were in the years immediately following the Civil War, but I do think the mention of a red ring is rather interesting. According to modern practice, if you see a dog with a red leash, collar or bandana on, it is generally taken to mean that the dog is potentially aggressive. It may bite, snap at, or lunge at people and other animals, so if you see it out, don’t approach it without owner’s permission.

My own black pup, Nazy, was red-collared. She was rescued from a horrible existence as a bait dog and although she was gentle with humans and learned to get along with her canine sister, she was aggressive towards unfamiliar dogs. She was controllable, but she couldn’t be trusted to interact normally with other animals she met out on her walks. 

Red tends to be a universal color meaning STOP or warning. Was the red ring around this phantom dog’s neck some sort of warning system to those it encountered, warning them to stay away? Did the red denote there was something bad or evil, even…supernatural…about the dog? 

While we may never know the fate of the phantom dog haunting the railroads near Clarksburg, we know it wasn’t alone in a long history of phantom dogs seen in West Virginia. Below is a list of just some of the phantom dog stories from all over the state, which you can read about right here on Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State!

The Ghost Dog of Peach Tree (Raleigh County)

The Witch of Wyoming County

Pt. Pleasant’s Phantom Black Dog

The Murdered Merchant’s Ghost

The Snarly Yow *Coming Soon!*

Wheeling Daily Register
11 January 1869


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