Moonville Tunnel cont'd
The Ghost Above the Tunnel
The ghost of a drunken man who was murdered near Moonville Tunnel is said to walk above the tunnel and toss pebbles at those below. Baldie Keeton was
from Moonville right around 1886. And his ghost story has been told by locals for more than a hundred years. He was forty-eight when he died. One
evening, Baldie headed to the Hope-Moonville Saloon and got drunk. It was said he loved to fight and when he did, he would give his opponent a huge
bear hug to subdue him. On the night Baldie Keeton died, he was drunk and in the mood to fight. One thing led to another and eventually, Baldie Keeton
got into a fight at the bar. He bear-hugged a man and was told to leave town “or else”. Although, he was warned, it is said it took some
persuasion to get him out the door. On his way home, Baldie Keeton was jumped and murdered. He was found the next morning, however his killers were
never identified. It is said his ghost has been seen above the tunnel, standing still and solitary. He has been known to throw rocks and pebbles at
those walking beneath.
Here is an account from Mike Shea August 16, 1961 as written in his collections:
"Baldie Keeton (David) was big and powerful and when in a fight or foolin' around he would hug a man and squeeze him. One day in Mat Lockhart's saloon
he tried to squeeze Jim Mace and Jim knocked him over the bar and into the bottles. Then he go Baldie's head and bent him over the bar ready to break
his neck but was talked out of it. A Dunn tried to break it up earlier in the fight and Jim "damn near killed him". Baldie was finally killed near the
coal washer near the Bighouse place - supposedly by a train but everyone figured he was murdered."
The Ghost of Lavender Lady
The ghost of a woman is said to walk along the far side of the tracks, followed by the scent of lavender. It is said that a woman from Mineral was
crossing the train trestle, she was struck and killed by a train. Rumor has it that her ghost still walks the area where her broken body had fallen
after being hit from the train. Some people claim to catch the scent of lavender wafting in the wind even in winter on the far side of the tunnel. An
early witness even claims someone followed him along the tracks and when he took off in a run, the ghost kept a good pace with him. In sheer panic,
when he veered off the tracks, the spirit disappeared.
The other ghost of Moonville is reputed to be a girl who was killed when she was caught on the trestle by a train while going to visit a lover. Since
at least four people were killed at Moonville crossing, it is possible that she is one of these, although the only story that seems to fit this
description is that of Mrs. Patrick Shea, who lost a leg to the train while crossing the trestle and later died during an amputation. Mrs. Shea,
however, was in her eighties and a grandmother.
So is there any evidence a woman or girl was killed on the tracks? There are actually two documented cases:
1873 Unknown Woman killed on Tracks
1873 While we delayed for a few minutes at Moonville on last Monday we heard reference to the instant killing of a woman in the deep cut near that
town the day previous by the morning express. . . (Athens Messenger, October 16, 1873)
1905 Mrs. Patrick Shea killed on Tracks
1905 Mrs. Patrick Shea (in her eighties and a grandmother of Michael Shea) was walking the Moonville to Hope and while crossing the trestle was struck
by a train. Her leg had to be amputated and she died from the shock. Recalled by Michael L. Shea.
The other two recorded deaths in Moonville are: Raymond Burritt, an 18-year-old killed in a mine explosion; and Charles Ferguson, who was killed in an
interesting way while crossing the tracks: the train he was waiting on to pass snapped in two and he stepped out in front of the second half without
looking in its direction.
This photo will give you a sense of scale. Notice the figure standing about halfway into the tunnel.
The first time I visited the Moonville Tunnel, I was not expecting just how big it would be. The mouth of the tunnel is enormous and is probably about
75 yds from end to end. When friends and I would go, we play a game where each person walks through from end to end alone without a flashlight. Keep
in mind this is at night and once inside you can not see your hand in front of your face. Inside, it is very eerie and the acoustics of the tunnel
makes it sound as though somebody or something is following you as you walk. What would freak me out the most is the fact that there could be animals
or vagrants in there and you can't see anything. The only weird thing that had happened was on my second visit. We had a group of 6-7 people and we
all walked through one by one to the other end. As we started walking back (this time together), we started to notice a yellow glowing light on the
ground at the opening of the tunnel. It turns out, the light was from a glowstick. Question is, where did it come from? In order to get to the tunnel,
one must drive several miles on a gravel road, park, then continue on foot through woods and across a stream. We just chalked it up as some locals
having fun with us.
Picture of the remaining trestle to tunnel.
Whether you believe the stories or not, Moonville Tunnel is an awesome place to explore.
Next: Part 4 and The Ridges
edit on 22-10-2012 by jtrenthacker because: (no reason given)