Sunday, September 5, 2010

Don't Go Into the Light!

There's an old saying that there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. A pessimist generally twists this to say that "the light at the end of the tunnel is usually an oncoming train." And just last week, a band of ghost hunters found themselves face to face with such a calamity in North Carolina.

While investigating Bostian Bridge near Statesville--the site of a railroad disaster over a century ago--a real freight train barreled across the bridge, killing 29-year-old Chris Kaiser and injuring two others. The engineer noticed the group gathered on the last remaining stuccoed brick bridge in the region and blew his whistle while attempting to bring the train to a stop as quickly as possible. Kaiser pushed his girlfriend off the tracks before being struck and thrown into the ravine.

On August 27, 1891 Train No. 9 approached the bridge. Hugh K. Linster, the baggage master, was retiring from his work on the Richmond & Danville Railroad that day and asked a passenger for the time to check the accuracy of his new watch. It was 3:00 AM. At that very moment, the train jumped the tracks, careening into Third Creek far below and killing some 22 people and injuring 26. On the 50th anniversary of the wreck a stranded motorist looked on in horror as she witnessed a train plunge into the creek and erupt into a fiery inferno. Several people who found themselves on the tracks at the time of the accident on the day of that fateful disaster claim to have witnessed a uniformed railroad worker asking them the time.

With the growing popularity in becoming the next Jason Hawes or Zak Bagans, more people than ever are setting out in pursuit of real ghosts. This has also led to an increased number of accidents and arrests for adventurers and trespassers. Too many of these individuals fail to exercise a certain amount of common sense. As the North Carolina case shows, the most important rule is always have an escape plan. When we watch horror movies we always yell at the stupid teenager who runs upstairs and hides in a closet from her attacker. It's like shooting fish in a barrel! Entering a train tunnel or walking onto a bridge that is still in use is just as foolhardy. If you see a light coming down the tracks, never assume it's an ethereal one.

Now I don't discourage people from visiting allegedly haunted sites. In fact, I encourage people to form their own opinions of belief in ghosts and find out for themselves by visiting public places and businesses with rumors of paranormal activity. Seeing is believing, after all! However, what I mean by this is to stay at a haunted inn, take a nighttime ghost tour, or take a hike in a haunted park. Don't stand in the middle of railroad tracks or a haunted stretch of roadway. Odds are you might become the next ghostly tale... and none of us would like that form of experience.

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