Flinderation Tunnel, Urban Legend or Truly Haunted?
As haunted places go, Flinderation Tunnel seems to have it all. You have a creepy atmosphere, close proximity to an old graveyard, and the gory story of a deadly train wreck. The location is famous among ghost hunters and thrill seekers who walk into the tunnel at night looking for paranormal activity. Picture a dark evening; the night mist is rolling across the hills surrounding you as you cautiously enter the old tunnel. Patches of the tunnel roof are missing and have crumbled onto the ground, crunching beneath your feet as you walk into the darkness. Sounds echo from local Route 50 traffic and bounce back and forth causing eerie distortions around you. The wind whistles thru the tunnel as your eyes begin to play tricks on you. You see bouncing hazy lights, perhaps a shadowy figure off to your side and you know you are alone. One can almost make out the moan of a man in pain and the rumble of a far off train approaching.
Urban legend and actual hauntings can be blended into a potpourri of facts and fantasy, which makes true ghost investigating difficult. Such is the case with the legendary Flinderation Tunnel in Harrison County. The tunnel is located just west of Clarksburg and its story swirls with whispers of a train wreck, the death of a man, rumors of past KKK murders and ghost sightings to boot. Separating fact from fiction is nearly impossible. This didn’t stop the Travel Channel from filming a segment on the tunnel and its dark history though!
One story I have heard told states that several men were doing work on the railroad back in the 1800s. They did not realize a train was quickly approaching and one of the workers could not get off the line in time. The train caught him and killed him, which caused a freak derailment. The railroad line through this tunnel was shut down eventually and that is when the ghostly occurrences began.
People said that they could hear train whistles and see the lights of an invisible train coming towards them. Legend also states the Ku Klux Klan brought victims into the tunnel for lynchings and beatings. Nighttime visitors to the tunnel swear they hear a train whistle along with other various sounds: a man screaming, metal scraping on metal, and crying.
The facts are simple and yet, a bit mysterious. All stories about the tunnel mention a terrible train wreck yet no records exist of an event taking place such as this. No newspaper articles have been found, no local mention of the dead or official documentation exists.
This railroad line was chartered by the Northwestern Virginia Railroad for the B&O. The tunnel section, along with the others on this section of the Clarksburg-Parkersburg line, was built between 1853 and 1854 and technically, was an independent company but was essentially financed by the B&O. In the 1980s, CSX sold the line to the state of West Virginia, who renovated the line into a hiking, equestrian and biking trail. Many years of research on this interesting tunnel have turned up few facts. The B&O timelines show no record of any accident or derailment in or near that tunnel.
To see the tunnel for yourself and experience what it has to offer, take Route 50 west from Clarksburg. After about 8 miles, turn right onto Flinderation Road. The road bends to the right, and just short distance later, you will see crossbars on both sides of the road. This is where the Rail Trail crosses. Pull over and park in front of the bar on the right side of the road, and you’ll be able to see the tunnel down the trail from this spot. Oh, if you are faint hearted, I suggest a day trip.
Flinderation Tunnel is part of the 72 mile North Bend Trail. It is operated by West Virginia State Parks and is part of the American Discovery Trail. Check it outif you dare.
Sherri Brake is a paranormal researcher, author and Haunted Heartland Tour owner. You may email her at SherriBrake@gmail.com or visit her website at www.HauntedHistory.net