BRANDY GAP TUNNEL #2
Updated: Jun 4
BRANDY GAP TUNNEL #2
DATE(S) VISITED: SEP 5, 2020
LOCATION: SALEM, WV
The Brandy Gap Tunnel #2, also known as the Flinderation Tunnel, is an abandoned train tunnel which is now part of the North Bend Rail Trail, just outside of Salem, WV. The tunnel was completed around 1857 and spookily enough runs under a cemetery that dates back to the 1700s (the old Enon Baptist Church Cemetery).
It has been the subject of countless ghost stories for many years and visitors that have walked through the tunnel have claimed to witness various types of paranormal activity. Because of this it has become a favorite haunt of ghost hunters and curious adventurers alike, so of course, whilst we were in the area we had to check it out.
A reporter from the Sandusky Star Journal picked up the story in 1927 and wrote about a man who heard voices coming from the tunnel. He followed the sounds to one of the manholes in the side of the brickwork (a manhole was used so those walking within could escape a train coming down the tracks). He expected someone to be inside, but when he lit a match to peer within, no one was there. His account has been one of many throughout the years of strange voices, sobbing, and chatter heard within the tunnel. Even as the railway was being worked on from 1852 to 1857, workers of the Northwestern Virginia Railroad building for the B&O reported strange lights inside the tunnel.
Some attribute the ghostly noises within to those whose graves lie not far away in the cemetery above, a suicide along the tracks, and a railway inspector who was killed whilst checking the tunnel, but others say they come from a worker by the name of Hanley, whose untimely death occurred on a cold winter’s day of January 15th, 1853. The Cooper’s Clarksburg Register wrote:
“Killed. A man named Hanley, was killed at the Brandy Gap Tunnel on last Saturday, by a quantity of earth falling on him. He was taken to Fairmont, on Monday, for interment. Two other men were seriously injured.”
These types of cave-ins were an occupational hazard for miners and so began the stories of the Tommyknockers, a name that would send shivers up the spines of those who knew the origins. The name comes from the knocking and banging on the mine walls that happens just before cave-ins, which is actually the creaking of earth and timbers before giving way. To some miners, knockers were malevolent spirits and the knocking was the sound of them hammering at walls and supports to cause the cave-in. To others, who saw them as essentially well-meaning practical jokers, the knocking was their way of warning the miners that a life-threatening collapse was imminent.
On our walk through we did not encounter anything paranormal, just a couple of cyclists and some hikers, but the ambience and atmosphere of this tunnel is pretty epic. You can just imagine the trains trundling through, the roar and vibrations, the steam and the smell of the coal burning, it is just a wonderful piece of engineering history. We never got the chance to go and find the graveyard that sits above the tunnel. If we find ourselves in this area again we shall certainly make it a priority as it definitely would be worth investigating the link between the tunnel.
For more photo's of our visit to Brandy Gap Tunnel #2, check out our Facebook page photo album.