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Legend of the Screaming Tunnel, Ontario~

3 min read

For some, this arched stone tunnel running beneath the Grand Trunk railroad tracks in Niagara Falls is just that: an arched stone tunnel running beneath the Grand Trunk railroad tracks in Niagara Falls. However, for ghost-stories enthusiasts with a vivid imaginations, the dark passage is haunted by the screams of a girl 100 years dead.

The tunnel is known as “Screaming Tunnel” or “Blue Ghost Tunnel”, and it was created in the early 1800s not as a thoroughfare but as a drainage passage to keep the tracks from being lost beneath flood waters.
Running underneath what once was the Grand Trunk Railway lines (now the Canadian National Railways) and often thought to be a railway tunnel, it was actually constructed only as a drainage tunnel so that water can be removed from the farmlands. This water would go underneath the Grand Trunk Railway and down to the valley below. Farmers used this tunnel to transport goods and animals safely underneath the busy railroad above.
Made from 38 meters of limestone bricks, the tunnel took on a haunted air early in its existence, while moss and algae took hold of the porous stones. Given its eerie look, it is no wonder that a simple tunnel became popular due a disturbing legend.

According to one version of the story, a local farm near the tunnel caught fire one night and a young girl ran screaming from the blaze, with hair and clothes alight. Before she could find help, the girl died right in the middle of the tunnel, with terrible burns throughout her body. Assumedly this was not quite macabre enough for increasingly modern audiences, so another version of the story has also spread in which the young girl is burnt to death in the tunnel by her father, mad with rage after he loses custody of his children after a nasty divorce, while still another, even more creepy version says that the girl was raped and her body burned to destroy the evidence. I can’t imagine what the next version will be and what happens!

In any case, all stories agree on the final: the girl’s spirit still haunts the tunnel and if a match is lit off the tunnel wall around midnight, you can hear her scream. Even if this is more likely to be a late night train passing overhead, the legend has proven credible enough to rebrand the otherwise unremarkable tunnel in the popular conscience.
However, there is a possible alternative to the tunnel’s history and why it was given the name “The Screaming Tunnel”. Historically, and that’s true, there used to be a small group of houses on the other side of the tunnel away from the main road, just like in the legend. A woman who lived in one of the houses was known by the neighbours for being a bit crazy.
After having a fight with her husband, she would absorbed all that anger and hold it in until he left for work. As a way to vent, she would walk to the very middle of the tunnel and scream at the top of her lungs. Neighbours would hear this but ignore it, as many didn’t want have nothing to do with her. This is what many believe to be the true origins of the name “The Screaming Tunnel”.
Choose if you prefer to believe in an almost rational explanation, or to legend…

Author’s notes:
the tunnel leads to the Bruce Trail, a great hiking trail. The tunnel was used as a set during the filming of David Cronenberg’s 1983 film adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel The Dead Zone.

Images from web.

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