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America's Scariest Tunnels? The Twin Tunnels of Downington, Pennsylvania May Take the Prize

The ‘Twin Tunnels’ of Valley Creek Road have a gruesome history.


Tunnels are scary. Especially if they’re dark, damp and narrow. Add a couple of hangings, a dead baby, and the discovery dismembered body and you have a hit with anyone looking for a place to scare themselves silly.

The Twin Tunnels of rural Chester County, Pennsylvania have all the above and, not surprisingly, they are a favorite nighttime hangout for local teens.

The Twin Tunnels are actually three tunnels that pass beneath the railroad tracks. One tunnel carries a tributary of the Brandywine Creek. It’s shallow enough that you can navigate it with hip boots, a flashlight and a strong constitution. The second tunnel is empty—just a narrow, sandy hole. Local legend holds it has been the site of dark rituals and sacrifices.

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The middle tunnel carries what passes for traffic in this part of Pennsylvania. Despite the rather charming road running in and out of the tunnel, it’s also dark, even during the day, and very narrow. But the most curious part of the middle tunnel is the vertical air shaft in the middle that heads up to the railroad bed. Rumor has it a young, unwed mother hanged herself inside the shaft in the 19th Century. She was holding her baby in her arms, so when she died, it fell to its death in the tunnel below.

Devotees of the tunnel say you can hear the baby crying at night. They also claim you might catch a glimpse of another ghost—a man said to have hanged himself from a wire that connects two of the tunnels. You may also hear him along with the baby, or at least the snap of the wire that caused his death.

Related: Clinton Road: America’s Most Haunted Roadway

The age of these stories makes them nearly impossible to confirm or deny, but the tale of the dismembered body is authentic. In 1995, a maroon suitcase was found in the creek. It had been taped shut, bound with wire and wrapped in a garbage bag. Inside was the nude torso of a woman. Her legs were missing.

Twin Tunnels - Woman Found in Suitcase
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  • A computer enhanced photo of the unidentified woman in the suitcase.

    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Pennsylvania State Police

The body was fresh enough that police were able to collect fingerprints and DNA. But to this day they have not been able to find a match and the woman remains unidentified. Fingerprints, facial modeling, and more were not enough to match the body to a person.

Six months after the suitcase was discovered, a pair of legs was found in Middletown Township, about 20 miles away. They were too decomposed to definitively match them to the murdered woman in the suitcase. However, according to the medical examiner, the bones did seem to “fit” with those of the torso left in the suitcase.

The murder has been added to the lore of the tunnels, with reports that you can sometimes hear a woman crying, “Help me!”. Other times, you may find macabre graffiti where her body was found, like a suitcase with an arm sticking out of it.

Special thanks to reader Mimi Zaborowski who tipped us off to this fascinating case. Thanks, Mimi!

Feature photo courtesy of Weird U.S.