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The 10 Scariest Tunnels in the World

The famous haunted Sensabaugh Tunnel is just one of many with sinister histories.

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  • Photo Credit: zaigee / Flickr (CC)

Tunnels are echoey, dark and often damp—the perfect places for evil people to do things they want to keep hidden. Maybe that’s why so many tunnels are said to be haunted. Here is a list of some of the horrible things that are supposed to have happened in tunnels, which may have left ghostly echoes behind.

1. Moonville Tunnel, Moonville, Ohio

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  • Photo: Moo Kitty / Flickr (CC)

Legend says the ghost of a man carrying a lantern appears inside this haunted tunnel. He is said to have been a railroad brakeman who was struck by a train in the late 1800s.

This narrow railroad tunnel reportedly killed many foolish pedestrians trying to dash through it as  a shortcut. In fact, newspaper reports indicate at least four brakemen met their end in or near this dangerous tunnel. Trains stopped using the tunnel in 1986, but the brakeman is said to continue his lonely vigil.

2. Sensabaugh Tunnel, Church Hill, Tennessee

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If you turn your car off inside the tunnel, locals say, you may hear a baby’s cry.

The white house near the end of the tunnel, once the home of Edward Sensabaugh, is still there. The competing legends for the haunting of this tunnel all begin at that house. In one version, Sensabaugh confronted a robber with a gun. The robber grabbed Sensabaugh’s baby, carrying it into the tunnel and drowning it. In a second version, Sensabaugh himself went mad, killed his entire family and dumped them in the tunnel. A third and final version of the story may be the most plausible. Sensabaugh lived a long and healthy life but got sick of local kids hanging out in the tunnel, so he would scare them off by producing a ghostly shriek now and then. But that wouldn’t explain the cries that continue to echo today...

3. Twin Tunnels, Downingtown, Pennsylvania

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Locals say you can hear the ghostly cries of a baby. 

The twin tunnels are actually three tunnels under railroad tracks. One is for cars, one is now empty, and the third carries a small creek. The center tube contains an air shaft heading straight up to the railroad bed above. In the 19th century, a young, unwed mother is said to have hanged herself in the shaft. She was holding her baby, so as she died it dropped from her arms to the floor of the tunnel below. 

Related: The Twin Tunnels of Valley Creek Road

4. The Screaming Tunnel, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

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Ghost hunters say if you stand at the center of this dark, limestone tunnel at night and light a wooden match, the match will instantly be blown out and you will hear the horrific screams of a girl burning to death..

The legend behind this haunting is particularly grim. A young girl was caught in a burning barn nearby. She ran into the tunnel seeking water, but died before she could find it.

5. Blue Ghost Tunnel, Ontario, Canada

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The mysterious blue ghost who haunts this abandoned railway tunnel might have lived out its un-death in peace if it weren’t for the nearby Screaming Tunnel. A ghost hunter investigating that tunnel stumbled upon this one and found its misty inhabitants. A nearby church graveyard was flooded as part of the tunnel construction. Only a third of the 917 bodies were relocated. More than 600 bodies were left to the rising waters, so there is no shortage of restless spirits who could have been looking for lodging in the area. 

6. Hoosac Tunnel, Western Massachusetts

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This tunnel, which cuts almost five miles straight through Hoosac Mountain in the Berkshires, earned the nickname ‘the bloody pit’ when it was being dug between 1851 and 1875. At least 193 workers died from from explosions, fires, and drownings. The crude tools they had to conquer the stone of the mountain were nitroglycerin, black powder, pickaxes, and brute strength. At least one of the deaths in the tunnel may have been a murder.

Even as it was being built, the tunnel earned a reputation for hauntings. Some workers refused to report for duty after hearing the moanings of their fallen comrades. Many reports made it into the papers of strange lights, ghostly appearances and, most often, groans of agony. The tunnel still carries trains today.

7. Church Hill Tunnel, Richmond, Virginia

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The Church Hill Tunnel is now a tomb. But its claim to fame is not ghosts. It’s a vampire.

Two men are buried inside the tunnel, along with an entire steam locomotive. The tunnel was built in 1875 but was already obsolete by 1902 when it was abandoned. In 1925, the city made an ill-fated attempt to reclaim the tunnel. It collapsed, killing two workers and burying the work train they had crawled under. One man did escape the collapse – and so did the Richmond Vampire. 

According to the legend, the workers had awakened an ancient vampire who lived in the tunnel. As revenge, he brought it down on top of them. Rescuers reportedly discovered the creature with jagged teeth and covered with blood crouching over one of its victims. The creature fled, according to legend, and now resides in a mausoleum in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery.

Related: The Ghosts of Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery

Several attempts were made over the years to recover the two bodies in the tunnel, and bring out the old steam locomotive. But each attempt led to more collapses and sinkholes. So the unlucky workers remain where they are. 

8. Gold Camp Road Tunnels, Colorado Springs, Colorado

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Visitors driving through this series of tunnels report hearing the voices of children. In the first two tunnels, you’ll hear them laughing. Then, as you enter the third tunnel, they start screaming. Sometimes, the children leave ghostly handprints on cars.

The Gold Camp Tunnels were built for the rail trains heading west during the gold rush. Later they were converted for automobile traffic. Local legend holds that a bus load of students (in some tellings, they are orphans) was killed when the tunnel collapsed. One of the tunnels did in fact collapse, but there are no official reports of a busload of children being killed.

9. Shanghai Tunnels, Portland, Oregon

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The Shanghai Tunnels are a network of hidden passages connecting the basements of Portland’s historic district. Many have collapsed, but some survive. In daytime they were used to transport goods between the hotels, bars, and brothels of the old town. At the night, they may have had a more sinister purpose – human trafficking. 

It is possible the tunnels were used to transport men who had been “Shanghaied.” It was a real practice in the 19th century. Ships were constantly short of laborers, who would flee for an easier life as soon as they hit port. To replace them, drunk men were pulled from bars and hauled to the waterfront. They woke up at sea to a hard life as a seaman with no escape except drowning. 

The echoes of those unhappy Shanghaied men are still said to haunt the Portland tunnels.

10. Big Bull Tunnel, Wise County, Virginia

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A voice from behind the brick masonry was heard to cry, “Remove that awful weight from my body!”

Like any tunnel built in the 19th century, the Big Bull Tunnel’s construction caused many deaths from rock falls, collisions and other accidents. There was even at least one murder in the tunnel. The tales of hauntings go all the way back to the tunnel’s earliest days. During one official inspection in 1905, two inspectors reported hearing the ghostly voice coming from behind the bricks. They asked what it wanted. After complaining about the weight on its body, the apparent spirit continued, “They are drinking my blood.”

Feature Photo: zaigee / Flickr (CC)