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Williamson's Haunted Rail Yard

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Norfolk and Western Rail Yard (1944)
Williamson, WV
Source: WV History on View

It seems weird to me to write a blog post about Williamson, WV that ISN’T about the haunted and historic Williamson Memorial Hospital, now known as the Old Hospital on College Hill. But, awhile back as I was collecting old newspaper stories about haunted places and ghostly goings-on throughout West Virginia, I had clipped a tale from the September 1st, 1935 edition of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.  At the time, the newspaper was running a series of articles featuring ghost stories submitted by readers. Most of the submissions were coming from Virginia, but a handful were from the Mountain State, including this story from Mingo County. 

For whatever reason, I pushed back sharing this article for quite some time and kind of forgot about it…until I saw where my good friend and colleague over at The Southern Spirit Guide had shared HIS blog post about this story. That post, while recently shared again, was published in 2018 so I’m REALLY late to the party, lol.  (Go check out the post, entitled Railyard Revenant) However, I still wanted to record the story here at Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State in an effort to further preserve the haunted folklore of West Virginia and share this story with as many people as possible. 

The rail yard in Williamson is still there, and still in operation, although the Norfolk and Western is now known as Norfolk Southern. The next time you’re in town, especially if you’re attending a private investigation or one of the upcoming spooky Halloween events at the Old Hospital on College Hill, take a moment to stop by. Although the yard itself is private property, you can still get close enough to MAYBE hear the phantom cries of a long-lost baby….


Strange Incident on Williamson Yards Baffles Railroad Men; Cry of Babe Heard From Locomotive Firebox

The popular demand for Sunday ghost stories has reached the point where these true tales are literally being “eaten” alive.

The first railroad ghost story, learned by accident, attracted so much attention that readers requested more of them.  Last Sunday was told how a fireman jumped off his engine at Flat Top yard after a voice from heaven had demanded that he quit railroading. That was a true story. Another voice from the spirit world warned an engineer in charge of a flier of an open switch ahead. A beautiful white pigeon alighted on a locomotive and the engine was wrecked killing the engineer. 

But today comes the strangest ghost tale ever published. The wonder of it is some of the big newspapers have not grabbed it, for it sure is a knockout. Many Norfolk and Western railroad men vouch for the truth of the story, men whose word is as good as their bond.

This amazing happening has its setting on Williamson yard, and has been told and retold until around the Mingo County seat the kiddies are sometimes put to sleep thinking about the yarn. 

But we will not longer keep the reader in suspense.

From the inferno of the boiler of a Norfolk and Western yard engine in use in Williamson yard may be heard the pitiful cries of a baby. Of course, there is no baby in that firebox. Even a child need not be told that.

But often during the dead hours of night from the firebox the engineer and fireman almost stand speechless as the faint cry of an infant is emitted from the seething furnace of their locomotive.

Billy Dotson, veteran engineer, is said to have been the first to hear the baby cry, but since, others claim to have heard the voice distinctly. 

One theory advanced is that a long time ago a young baby in some manner was tossed into the firebox of this particular engine, and that its tiny spirit remains.

Anyway, you have the story. It is not for us to offer a solution of this amazing phenomenon. 

Don’t forget to check out my other blog posts from Williamson, WV!


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