Silver Run Tunnel - Cairo, West Virginia including directions to tunnel (Ritchie County)
The Silver Run Tunnel (Tunnel 19)
Silver Run Road
Cairo, West Virginia
1,376 feet long tunnel haunted by a ghostly pale woman. Engineers in the late 1800s and early 1900s claimed to have seen the ghostly figure along the tracks at the tunnel. Legends say she was a bride making her way to her groom in Parkersburg before she was killed near the tunnel.
Take flashlights! The tunnel is really long and very dark.
Go into Cairo and then place this GPS code (39.20768, -81.19665) into GPS. Honestly, if you don't, you'll be on old roads best suited for ATVS. But the road in Cairo will lead out of town along two steel bridges and then a thin gravel road called Silver Run Road. The pull off is right here on the left on trail and has room for one car. Walk south (away from Cairo) along Rail For Trail about 10 minutes hike on gravel. NOTE: The State Park recommends that there is also a pull off in Cairo with a walk along the Rails For Trails path. It is a few miles to the tunnel, but a great hike. For directions from the Rail For Trail parking in Cairo:
Cairo Exit off U.S. 50 on to State Route 31 and go 4 miles to Cairo. State Route 31 crosses the trail and parking is available on the blacktop in town square, or on the gravel or by the old Bank at Cairo.
The whole story. . .
There is a legend about a young woman who haunts the old Baltimore and Ohio tracks just outside the town of Cairo, West Virginia. In 1910, a young engineer was making the 169 mile midnight westbound express run along the B & O tracks starting in Grafton and heading toward Clarksburg and then, Parkersburg. It was a long run and it was dark along much of the route, the track between the few tiny towns was surrounded on both sides by blasted out rock, forest and steep hillsides.
All was well the first 24 or so miles from Grafton to Clarksburg. It wasn’t for a bit over 58 miles later things began to change in a very horrifying way. When the engineer came upon the short stretch of railway at the entrance to Tunnel #19, in the light of the moon and headlights, he saw a woman in a pale dress with raven-colored hair walking along the tracks. Horrified he would hit her, he tried desperately to stop the train by throwing the brakes into emergency. He could not stop in time. The engineer would later report to watchmen at the Smithburg Tunnel about 36 miles west that he and the fireman both jumped from the train, but a layer of fog on the tracks seemed to swallow the pale lady up.
As if that was not enough, the engineer would see her again on his westbound express. It would be the next half-moon before she appeared. This time he caught the details of her clothing—golden slippers, black hair and a jeweled brooch. And when the train drew its warning whistle, a moan came from the depths of the ghostly woman.
Rumors of the ghostly young woman began to spread and other engineers along the track began to see her. Trains slowed near the Silver Run Tunnel #19 to avoid her, many nearly wrecking to keep from hitting her. A stalwart Irishman by the name of O’Flannery scoffed at the ghost stories. But it would not be long before she came to him along the tracks on a cool autumn night, disappearing into the fog. After he stopped the train and searched around, O’Flannery vowed that if he saw her while driving the train again, there was no way he would slow his run down. He would simply not stop. Instead, O’Flannery would barrel right through her. And one night, Engineer O’Flannery did. Along his run, the ghostly phantom of Silver Run Tunnel #19 showed herself at the entrance to the tunnel. Just as he promised, O’Flannery drove the train right through the woman. He watched in awe as she screamed and flew into the air.
However, when he pulled into Parkersburg he would get a terrible fright. Bystanders along the track, signal men, agents and section men were desperately waving him down. It appears along the long route between the tunnel and Parkersburg, telegraph reports were sent advising other stations that there was a girl riding perched on the cowcatcher on the front of the train.
When the railroad agents made an enquiry about the pale woman in white showing up along the tunnel, it was said that they found a young woman who had disappeared 25 years earlier on her way to Parkersburg. She never arrived. Many years after the engineers reported seeing the ghost, a skeleton was found buried in the cellar of an old house near the Silver Run Tunnel #19. Along with the skeleton was a jeweled brooch and silver slippers. Over the years that followed, more rail men saw the Phantom of Silver Run. They swore they could hear her moan near the tunnel while the train whistled its warning.You can try to see and hear her too. Tunnel #19 is about an hour and forty minutes from the Hocking Hills or 35 minutes from Parkersburg. The old train track is part of West Virginia’s Northbend Rails for Trails. Take flashlights! The tunnel is really long and very dark.