Posts Tagged ‘1874’

The tale has been documented by Michael Norman and Beth Scott, in Historic Haunted America about a tunnel in western Massachusetts. The tunnel is the Hoosac Tunnel in North Adams.

It began construction in 1851 and wasn’t finished unti 1874, for 24 years workers chipped away at the rocks and around 200 men lost their lives by explosions, fires and drowning in what became known as the bloody pit. It seems that many of those were accidental but one may have been more sinister.

Nitroglycerin was an explosive introduced in 1865 to the miners and used for the first time at the Hoosac Tunnel. 20th March, 1865, three men planted the nitroglycerin and ran for the safety bunker, they were Ned Brinkman, Billy Nash and Ringo Kelly. Kelly had prematurely set the charges and it buried both of his colleagues under a heavy pile of rocks.

After the incident Kelly disappeared and he was not seen again until 30th March, 1866 where his body was found two miles into the tunnel. His strangled corpse was at the spot Brinkman and Nash had been killed by the explosion. The Deputy Sheriff thought the murder had happened between midnight and 3am but no suspect was on the cards and his murder went unsolved.

The workers felt the spirits of Brinkman and Nash were the culprits and feared the area was cursed, they felt unhappy about having to go inside. The work slowed to the point that an investigation was called for. Paul Travers was a highly respected cavalry officer in the Union Army. He went into the tunnel with Mr Dunn, they went in at 9am and went to the spot where they heard what sounded like a man groaning in pain. They agreed that it did not sound like the wind.

It was a month later, 17th October 1868, when thirteen miners died in a gas explosion, the gas explosion blew apart one of the surfaces pumping stations. The debris filled the central shaft where the miners were working. It was the single worst disaster during the tunnels construction and a local reporter said that a miner, Mallory, was lowered down by a bucket and rope to search for survivors. He emerged almost unconscious, lifted back up, saying there was no hope. With no pumping station the 538-foot shaft filled with water and the bodies of some of the unfortunates began to surface from it. A year later the remaining men’s bodies were found on a raft that they had built trying to use it to float up on the water as it rose up.

All the time that they were missing the villagers spoke of vague shapes and the muffled wails of what the believed were the dead men. Workmen saw them carrying their picks and shovels through mist and also the snowy mountaintop. They left no footprints and only appeared briefly before they vanished. Once the last of the missing dead were located the strange sightings stopped.

That may have been the end of one tale but in 1872 another report came up about Dr Owens and James R McKinstrey who went into the tunnel. They went down the two miles down and halted to rest, the place was cold and dark, the only light was from their lamps. Both men heard a moan like someone in great pain. A dim light came down the tunnel and as it came closer the light took on a blue hue and looked more like the form of a human being with no head.

The strange light was so close it could have been touched but the men stood with gaping, open mouths and were most likely terrified. It eventually turned away and vanished, Owens was unable to come up with a rational explanation for the very thing they had witnessed.

16th Octobre, 1874, another bizarre event came up, a local hunter named Frank Webster vanished and three days later a search party found him stumbling around in shock, along the banks of the Deerfield River. His story was he had been ordered by strange voices to go into Hoosac Tunnel, when he did ghostly figures were walking around. Suddenly his rifle was seized from his hands, it was used to knock him him out around the back of the head and he woke up outside without the rifle and without any memory of leaving.

The first train went through on 9th February, 1875 and with its completion the stories still carried on. That fall a man named Mulvary, a fire tender, was driving a wagon load of firewood into it. He suddenly turned his cart around, whipped the horses flanks and was never heard of again. Three miles from there they did find the wagon and in 1977 a man named Impoco said he heard someone yell “Run, Joe, run!” as he was chipping ice from the tracks and there was a train coming. The voice alerted him and most likely saved his life.

The tunnel is very much in use today, the Boston and Maine railroad is very busy. It’s an impressive feat of engineering and visitors can talk to local old-timers who will recount the local tales.

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By en:User:Acela2038 – en:Wikipedia, Public Domain, Link

 

The Ridges is located in Athens, Odio and was also know as the Athens Mental Health Center. It was there for the criminally insane and opened it’s doors 9th January 1874. It was brought by the State and Federal Government from the Coates family; it was over 1000 acres of farmland.

The main structure was built to resemble a home which was unusual when most of the asylums were effectively a house of abuse and torture with their given conditions. It was built on the familiar plans of the Kirkbride design. According to Wikipedia one of the leading causes of male insanity in 1876 was masturbation! Concerned yet? During the first three years of the hospital being open fifty six men and one women were diagnosed with this problem.

The Ridges was one that did not use bleeding, freezing and head kicks to try and shock their illness away, the more violent patients were kept away from others and until the 1900’s did not suffer too much from overcrowding. The decline of treatment however went alongside the overcrowding and without this came the fall back into the old ways.

The Ridges reverted back to a place that used shock therapy, lobotomy and physical abuse to control its patients. By 1993 the Ridges had becoming a place to shut it’s doors for good and all the patients left, well apart from one of them.

Margaret Schilling went missing 1st December 1978 and 12th January 1979 her body was found in the abandoned top floor ward N 20. The ward had been closed down for some time and despite a check of the hospital they had not thought to go into that area.

The official cause of death was heart failure, she was found by a maintenance man who found her cold, lifeless and unclothed several weeks later. Apparently you can still see a stain in the shape of a human figure, on the spot she died. It is also said that she is seen peering from the room and that voices have been heard, lights are seen and shadows, and more eerily the noise of squeaking gurneys.

A note on the body mark, I found some information whilst surfing to say that there was indeed some thought placed into the strange body shaped mark that is most definitely present. So they decided to try and work out what the mark was by determining if there were any traces of old fat deposits, owing to the lack of anything else on the site.

The site is now owned and used for OU, however the portion where the mark is has not been opened for use or to the public. It had not been chemically tested or explained, perhaps better left to myth rather than fact however they decided that this could be of forensic use to try.

The Body Farm in Tennessee has been a useful earmark in the continuous investigations about how the body deteriorates after death and the conditions under which these things change speed. Most bodies are found at the scene and have some evidence about their origin; this was a chance to try another study about remains and their effects.

Samples were collected from the light stain area, the dark area around it and the concrete in the room as a control test. They collected samples from soap, a small piece of skin from a volunteer and a cleaner called Franklin Blu-Lite which had been used on the stain.

So what did the tests show? The samples from the light area showed the human stain was produced by a degradation of a skin or fatty tissue and chemicals from the cleaner. So what they can establish is there was a body on the floor, so most likely Schilling’s retrieved corpse.

What it can’t seem to explain however is the shape it is in, if a mop or scrub has been used to clean up after the body was moved it’s been cleaned in a strange manner of following just the body shape itself, as a more general clean of the area would have left an irregular set of marks. So that’s the mystery I took from this one, less so than the rumoured haunting.

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