Here’s a true story about a haunted house by the railroad tracks.
I love haunted house stories, but add the railroad tracks and I’m thrilled. I do love old railroad tracks and railroad depots. I love model railroad trains. There is just something extremely special about them. It may be all the old movies I saw or old books I read as a kid, or that my grandmother’s house had the railroad tracks and depot beyond her backyard. I loved climbing on the fence to wave at the conductor when he’d pull into the station. It was a thrill I’ve never forgotten. This is where my brother taught me to climb the old walnut tree in the backyard, but the conductor couldn’t see me, so I’d hang on the fence. We’d also have a great view from the back upstairs bedroom window, but I preferred the fence.
Was my grandmother’s house haunted? Is this a story about that? No, this was just an introduction. I have shared some experiences about my grandmother and her sister, but this isn’t my story, it’s from JoAnne who came to the coffee shop one morning to share her story.
The house came alive at night.
That was an excellent opening that got everyone’s attention right from the start. When JoAnne was a child, she and her mother would visit her Aunt Louise and cousin Sadie. They had great fun together and were almost like sisters.
At breakfast one morning, Aunt Louise whispered to her sister Martha, I heard it again last night. There was a bouncing ball on the stairs and she heard a man yell, “Billy, stop bouncing that ball down the stairs, you’ll break the window.”
Martha was uncomfortable talking of ghosts in front of JoAnne, but Sadie didn’t seem to be bothered or traumatized by living in a haunted house. Nevertheless, Martha said it must be the train rattling the whole house when it came by. It was all she could think of to say since she didn’t hear the bouncing ball or the man shout out. The house was well insulated and some distance from the tracks, but if you listened, you could hear the train whistle while it passed to warn travelers when it crossed the road down the street. JoAnne always found the sound comforting.
She asked her cousin if the house was haunted and she answered in the affirmative. She saw a woman in her bedroom a few times looking for something. At first, she thought it was a burglar and shouted out to her mom, but when she came in the room and turned on the light, no one was there. Her father, Uncle Fred, looked throughout the house and checked the windows and the doors, but nothing was there. Sadie remembered seeing her several more times and finally she stopped coming, but there were others.
JoAnne was intrigued and wanted to see a ghost. They thought they arrived on the train. At one time the old house was a boarding house a several decades before they moved in. Neighbors spoke of all the interesting people who stayed at the boarding house for one night or longer. There was a wedding there once and one elderly woman did die in her sleep in one of the middle bedrooms with windows on the side of the house. One particular neighbor claimed to see a woman looking out the window.
JoAnne had to check that out, but never saw anyone in the window, but she did see shadowy figures in the stairway when she looked through the large window on the other side of the house.
A few years later, JoAnne and her mother moved into the old haunted house near the railroad tracks.
JoAnne’s father was a traveling salesman and was in a serious accident. He was in the hospital for several weeks, but didn’t survive the internal injuries he suffered and never awoke from the coma due to the head injuries sustained in the accident.
It was a sad day when they arrived. Sadie was welcoming and for a few months the girls shared a room before JoAnne decided to move into the room next door overlooking the front of the house.
JoAnne’s mother moved into one of the middle bedrooms. Her aunt and uncle had the master suite at the back of the house.
There were six bedrooms upstairs with three bathrooms, not counting the one in the master suite. There were two bedrooms downstairs with an adjoining bathroom. There was a full basement that had old furniture and numerous boxes filled with a variety of items. No one went into the basement and no one spoke of the basement. One of the downstairs bedrooms was used as Uncle Fred’s office and the other was Aunt Louise’s sewing and craft room. The two remaining upstairs bedrooms were guest rooms available for visiting relatives.
JoAnne became aware of the noises outside her bedroom door and the sound of the bouncing ball on the stairs. She remembers it was a Saturday night, just about a week after she moved into a room of her own that she heard the breaking of glass. “Now you’ve done it!” she heard a man’s voice boom. Joanne slipped under the covers and tried to cover her ears. The fearful cries and screamed that came from the child brought goose bumps to her arms. She wanted to help, but was too afraid to leave the security of her bedroom.
She listened to see if her mother, aunt or uncle would investigate, but no one seemed to hear what she did. She heard what she believed to be the basement door open and slam closed, then the bolt slide into place. “Stay there until I calm down,” the man said. Then she heard the back door open and close.
JoAnne knew the child, the bouncing ball and the man were ghosts that had been there for a long time, but this was different.
She went downstairs and opened the basement door.
Old furniture and boxes were scattered around the basement. She was afraid to go down into the basement alone, so she closed and bolted the door before returning to her room.
At breakfast she shared her experience of the night before. Uncle Fred told her never to go down into the basement again. JoAnne had never seen her uncle angry before.
At church a few hours later, she couldn’t sit still and slipped out the back to walk in the garden and cemetery a short distance from the church. It was quiet and peaceful.
“You staying at the old Corwin place?” an old man asked.
“I’m staying with my Aunt Louise and Uncle Fred,” she answered.
“Yes, that’s the old Corwin place.”
JoAnne thought their conversation was over when he asked, “Any strange things going on over there?”
She knew exactly what he meant and told him of her experience and how angry her uncle became when she told him she opened the basement door.
“Aw, the basement,” the old man said and walked away.
JoAnne didn’t follow the old man. Part of her wanted to know about the basement and another part didn’t. She wanted to forget the whole thing ever happened.
Activity escalated in the old house.
JoAnne thought it was her fault for opening the basement door. Her mother found a furnished apartment they could move in during the following week. Her mother was working and felt it was time for them to have a place of their own.
They had just gotten settled into their apartment when Sadie called and asked her Aunt Martha to come to the house. Something terrible had happened.
Sadie had attended summer church camp that weekend and when no one came to pick her up, she decided to walk home. When she got there, the house was dark and she found both her mother and father at the bottom of the basement stairs.
Martha called the police and they waited out on the front porch.
After the funeral and the reading of the will, Sadie gathered up the remaining clothes and personal items and walked out of the house for the last time.
Fred and Louise left the house and all their belongings to Martha. Sadie could choose to live with her Aunt Martha or her Aunt Brenda and Uncle Ralph in Kentucky. After dinner at the apartment, Sadie left with her aunt and uncle.
JoAnne was afraid of the old house, but she and her mother moved back in.
They cleaned the house from attic to basement. They had a huge yard sale. They had a priest bless the house. They donated some of the old records and photographs of the house and families that left albums in the basement to the historical society.
There didn’t seem to be anything unusual about the basement. Sadie had remarked about hearing chains rattling down there, but no one dared go in there to investigate. That’s why it was so strange for Louise and Fred to be found down there.
The old man JoAnne met at the church cemetery came for a visit about a month later to see how they were getting along. JoAnne asked him about the basement.
He explained that in the 1950’s the house belonged to a couple with a small boy. The couple were a bit strange. They practiced some kind of black magic and had several people staying there that shared their interests.
“Something was always going on there at night and lasted until just before dawn.” He paused for a minute then continued. “That big window was broken in the stairwell I noticed one day and asked the man if he needed help fixing it. He said it didn’t need fixing and told me to mind my own business. After that, the place was empty, but a neighbor complained of hearing a child crying. The police found nothing except some cats behind the house and thought that was what the neighbors had heard.”
“Later there was a stench about the place and the police were called again. They entered through the broken window and discovered the little boy chained to the wall, dead.”
The house remained empty for quite awhile, then someone fixed up the old place and sold it. People lived in the house for awhile and then moved out. It was sold about a dozen times before Louise and Fred bought it.
What lured them to their deaths in the basement remains a mystery. Sadie still blames JoAnne and Aunt Martha for the death of her parents. She’s happy in Kentucky with her father’s brother and his wife and three boys. Did opening the basement door escalate the haunting activity? It seemed to stem more from what Louise and Fred were doing than with opening the basement door. They were practicing some black magic that got out of hand. They found some old books they’d been reading before Martha and JoAnne arrived. Every evening they’d go down in the basement and perform their rituals. The residual ghosts of the previous residents replayed the bouncing of the ball and the breaking of the window. JoAnne believes it was a warning to her to make her aware of what was going on in the basement. Fred’s anger was due to the possibility of JoAnne learning what he and his wife were doing in the basement during full moons and solstices.
This was discovered when Martha and JoAnne cleaned the basement.
JoAnne soon grew to love the old house. Yes, it is haunted, but those who haunt the house cause no trouble. There’s a ghostly priest who comes by in the evening, but several ghostly nuns stay there. At night they hear prayers. It is as comforting as the train whistle she hears in the distance.
Was that creepy enough for you?
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