My home town of Erie Pennsylvania is odd for many reasons. But one of the most disturbing oddities of the city is the non-paranormal fact that many train tracks run smack dab through the center of town. You literally can not go from North to South within the city limits without running into at least one track, and the trains travel at all times of the day-especially during rush hours.
Multiple tracks are on the main East-West route of Conrail and Amtrak, along the path of the long gone Erie Canal, a man made waterway used to ferry goods between major Eastern United States cities until the late mid 1800s. Being in the center of a busy city, the tracks have been the scene of many accidents some fatal. One particularly tragic accident a few years ago seems to have left something behind.
It was an exceptionally warm Saturday night in late October many years ago. Like every weekend before Halloween the local bars and taverns were filled with young people reveling in holiday costume parties, drinking until the wee hours of the morning. One private club , “The Queen’s Pawn” was always the scene of the most extravagant and popular pre-Halloween parties. With a grand prize of $100 for the best costume and a guarantee of scantily clad coeds from the local sororities trying to win that prize it was always standing room only.
Holly wasn’t one of those girls though. She was a popular, beautiful and modest twenty something who worked as a hostess at a local restaurant. Her perfect costume was a Wedding Gown, for she was engaged to be married the following year. Her fiancé accompanied her dressed as a Groom wearing a tuxedo. During the evening the couple drank and danced the night away until the early morning. Tipsy and tired Holly and her fiancé left the club with a group of 30 of her friends at about 3:15 am. The club sits very close to the train tracks on 19th street, and the group had to cross them in order to get to their cars. Just as they approached the tracks a very slow moving train came traveling through the city from the east. A few hopped on the slow moving train and her fiancé followed suit, grasping onto the rail and easily hopping on a platform. Holly was in a full length gown with high heels and intoxicated; she really didn’t feel like hopping on the slow moving train. But her fiancé extended his hand romantically and the crowd around them shouted in unity, “Jump Bride, Jump!”
So Holly jumped.
She grasped the rail, and the train of her wedding dress became caught up in the wheels of the locomotive.
As the stunned crowd looked on Holly screamed in terror as she was dragged leisurely under the crushing wheels of the locomotive. Her white dress became crimson as her body was gradually entangled within the wheels itself. The crowd ran in fear, including her fiancé, as her body was
dragged over 100 yards stopping only by the intervention of an on looking police officer.
Her body parts were strewn across the street by the crushing power of the locomotive.
I had visited the scene the day after, since my wife works a few blocks away. The evidence of the grisly death still remained at the scene in the form of the painted outlines of the severed limbs and head scattering the sides of the track for the entire 100 yard length of the accident. The accident and the situation was a true tragedy.
The train tracks have long been removed replaced with a newly paved road. The trains are now diverted to other tracks in the area, far away from the casual pedestrian. But recently acquaintances of mine who have visited the area late at night have reported strange phenomenon.
People have been witnessing a ghostly apparition in the dark hours of early morning, the figure of a woman in a wedding dress walking down the street where the train tracks once lay. She says nothing, interacts with nothing. She hovers gradually down the street and vanishes in a white mist.
Tami told me: “We were traveling down 19th to get to State Street, just past the ErieCemetery when we saw something on the road in front of us. It was a pretty girl in a wedding dress she was just walking down the center of the road with her back to us. My friend slowed down and flashed the high beams. That’s when is told him something wasn’t right, she seemed ‘fuzzy’ like a bad picture. Then as we came real close she just vanished under a streetlight. It was like the light took her.”
Tami never heard the tragic tale of Holly from years ago. When she told me of her tale she assumed that there was some spirit loose from the nearby Erie Cemetery, but Holly’s body is buried in a distant suburban graveyard far from the bustle of the city.
Erie Cemetery is one of the oldest graveyard in Erie County and has it’s collection of odd and unusual stories. Within it’s iron gated limits are aged personal mausoleums of days gone by which hold the remains of wealthy businessmen who were friends of presidents, many of the city’s founding politicians, and hordes of ordinary citizens. Its eastern border is only a few blocks away from where Holly met her untimely demise. There have been other reports of ghostly apparitions and unusual sounds at the Cemetery but the bride has only recently appeared.
I inquired at the local police station if anyone had reported to them about any ghosts on 19th street. He just shook his head and smiled sarcastically, “We get all kinds of weird calls. The graveyard always spooks people.” After I clarified myself to him that I was curious about any sightings of a ‘ghost bride’ around the area of “The Queens Pawn” where the old tracks used to run he gave me a curious look. With a somber voice he said, “I really don’t want to talk about it, we had a few guys at the scene that night and they saw a lot of stuff they had a tough time with.” He then gave me an odd stare, “They still see things.” He said as he stood up to walk away and put a stop to the conversation.
Late at night, does Holly once again don her wedding veil to relive her hopes of a marriage that never was?
Or does she walk the streets of 19th street looking for the groom and her friends that abandoned her at the moment of her death thinking they will still come to rescue her?
Whatever this is, I hope that Holly finds peace.