The Cruel Wheels of the Train

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

(The Toledo Blade, January 16 1890)

Ghostly Apparition in Findlay and Fostoria Ohio, 1890


Is What is Driving Men From a Freight Run.

The Apparition of a Conductor Raising a Sensation

Train men on the Lake Erie & Western railroad, between Findlay and Fostoria, are greatly disturbed over what they claim is the ghost of a dead freight conductor, who was killed one night last November, about eight miles east of this city, by his train breaking into two sections and then coming together suddenly, throwing the conductor from the car on which he was standing, to the track below, where he was beheaded by the wheels before the train could be controlled.

This accident occurred near the village of Arcadia, at a point where dense woods almost form an arch above the tracks, and here it is that the ghost of Jimmie Welsh, the mutilated conductor, make its appearance nearly every night as the midnight passenger train from Sandusky going west reaches the spot where he met his fate on that gloomy, autumnal night less than three months ago.   The engineer and other officials of this train assert that scarcely a night pass when not a headless apparition can be seen coming out of these woods, as the train nears the scene of the accident, carrying in its bloodless hand something that looks like a lantern, which it waves backward and forward, in a measureless sort of manner, as though searching for a lost object.  The trainmen have no sort of doubt but it is the ghost of Jimmie Welsh hunting for its head.  The phantom is plainly visible until the engine, with a scream of terror, voicing the feelings of the engineer, endeavors to escape from the horrible sight, when it slowly turns, and walking into the woods, fades away into a blue mist.

Two crews have already abandoned this run on account of this ghastly vision, and have been transferred to other divisions of the road, and the present engineer in charge of the train was so frightened when he reached this city last night that it was with difficulty he was persuaded to remain on his engine until relieved at Lima.  He said to the Blade correspondent that he would not make the trip again for all the money Senator Calvin S. Brice, president of the road, possessed. 

The conductor and brakeman on the train confirmed the engineer's story, and said they saw the ghost nearly every night, always seemingly engaged in the hopeless task of hunting for its head.  On bright moonlight nights the apparition is not so plainly outlined as when the nights are dark and rainy, as has been the rule during the past.  On such occasions the phantom conductor comes out clear and distinct, having all the semblance of a man minus his head, while the lantern gives out a fitful, uncanny sort of illumination that freezes the blood in the veins of the boldest railroader on the line.

No other train is annoyed by this ghostly form, but this is explained by the fact that no other train passes the spot where Jimmie Welsh was killed, at the time of night when he was decapitated by the cruel wheels of his train.  The matter has thoroughly alarmed all the employees of this division of the road, and unless the spirit of the dead conductor is appeased in some way, it will soon be difficult to get men to make this midnight run from Sandusky to Lima.  

Freight agent Cooper was seen by the Times with reference to the truthfulness of the above.

He said:  There is nothing in it, for we have never heard of it.  He then called up train dispatcher Cook, who hires all the men.  Cook was astonished and verified Cooper's statement.  

The Findlay correspondent should work up another "bloody-hand-in-the-sky-sensation."

We can only dare to guess whose truth is to be believed in the case of the headless horror. The original newspaper article above, printed in 1890, leaves us with only one undeniable fact: Only the dead hold the truth, and they took it to their graves long ago.


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