Most folks that have grown up in Middle Tennessee have heard the ghost story of
Our legend’s brakeman was one such unlucky fellow. He was thrown from the perch on top of a box car, and was decapitated for his misstep. After the accident, folks in the area began to see a strange light making its way up and down the tracks. The only logical explanation that could be mustered was that it was the brakeman, swinging his lantern looking for his lost head.
Most folks in the Middle Tennessee area know someone that knows someone that went to
Fifteen years ago, a friend of mine Tracy Latham and my mother decided to be good Tennesseans and trek down to Chapel Hill to see what all the hype was about. Fortifying ourselves with Diet Coke and Ding-Dongs we made our way 40 miles south down I-65 from
A few minutes later we had turned down
Midnight came and went as we peered out of the car’s windows. We were about to give up when I saw something. About fifteen feet down the track appeared a small glowing disk. It looked like someone had applied the world’s best blue-green luminous paint to a JFG coffee can lid. The disk was four feet off the ground, had no depth, cast no light and had no one standing behind it. One minute there was nothing, and the next it was like someone had flipped a switch and the disk appeared.
“What’s that down the tracks?” I thought I had said rather calmly to my companions.
The unholy shriek that came from the back seat was my mother, “It’s a (insert a string of no less than ten of your favorite expletives) ghost!”
Looking back on the event, I now understand how panic spreads through a crowd. Tracy and I both began to make unintelligible noises of despair. In reality I think we were screaming like a child on a playground that has had a spider put in their hair. All the while, the light got closer to the car. I think it was the sage voice of my mother that suggested that we get he heck out of Dodge.
Being the dutiful son, I fumbled starting the car half a dozen times before engine turned over. The light couldn’t have been more than six feet from the car when I skittered down the access road. After pushing the performance envelope of
Through various experiences in my life I have been out many nights under similar conditions. I’ve seen numerous people holding flashlights, chem lights, and torches under the exact same conditions. Every time, you can see the person holding the light source. This time there was no one there, just the oddly glowing disk. The disk’s light didn’t even look like anything I’ve ever seen before. Perfectly round, perfectly glowing a color that almost looked like the digital readout of an adding machine. Was it the Ghost of Chapel Hill? To this day I don’t know.
All five sat beside the tracks, waiting for the light to appear. This time it was about 9:30 when we hit town. The press of a hard week and an already tired (even after a long nap) six year old will accelerate most time tables. And this time out, we did see a light. It was the light of an on coming train, but it was a light. My son was so suitably impressed with the rush of a near by train that I think he almost forgot we were looking for a Ghost. After a while, the yaws and jitters of non-activity over came us and the hunting party began to pack up.
My son turned to me as we piled in my CR-V to tell me he had a good time even though there was no Ghost. I scratched his head and told him maybe next time, and secretly hoped he didn’t think his old man was pulling his leg. Yep… maybe next time little guy