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Phantom Train Wreck

A North Carolina Ghost Story 

The passengers were grumpy and heavy-eyed as they boarded the train in Salisbury during the early morning of August 27, 1891. The train was headed to Asheville, and the riders settled into their seats and tried to catch a few more minutes of sleep.

Around three a.m., the passengers were suddenly awakened by suddenly bucking and rocking of the train. The engineer fought for control as the passenger train raced across the stone-and-brick Bostian Bridge near Statesville, but the train suddenly derailed. The chug and whoosh of the rushing train was replaced by the scream of metal and the sounds of the huge train falling, falling down towards the creek bed sixty feet below the bridge. The horrible thunder of the train as it smashed into the stream was quickly replaced by the equally terrible sound of trapped passengers screaming and moaning in agony as the twisted wreckage of the train was encompassed by the waters of the creek. Twenty-two people were killed that night in the worst train wreck in the history of North Carolina.

Fifty years to the day after the wreck, a woman waiting by her stranded car near the Bostian Bridge in the early morning hours of August 27 saw a train come rushing down the track, its head light gleaming brightly in the darkness and the whistle blowing. As it raced across the bridge, it suddenly derailed, screaming its way down and down sixty feet to smash into the creek bed below. The woman was terrified. She ran toward the wrecked train and gazed down into the creek. She could hear the frantic cries and agonized moans of the survivors.

At that moment, a car pulled up beside her stranded vehicle and her husband jumped out, followed by the owner of a local store who had come to help them fix their flat tire. She ran towards them in a frenzy, desperate to get help down to the poor trapped passengers below. When they heard her story, the men ran to the edge and looked down into the creek bed. There was nothing there. The woman had seen the train wreck of Statesville re-enacted before her eyes.

Some people say the phantom train appears each year in the early morning hours of August 27th and is wrecked before the eyes of any who watch for it.


You can read more North Carolina ghost stories in Spooky South by .


S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series published by Globe Pequot Press. She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of “let’s pretend” quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children’s Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author.