The Thanksgiving Ghost

The Thanksgiving Ghost

The Screaming Spirit of the Railway

There is something to be said about tradition – the history and understanding of them. Some are tied into centuries of beliefs and customs, others are tied through emotional and personal ties. Breaking the bread on the Sabbath is a tradition; Dad having to carve the turkey every Thanksgiving is also a tradition.

Thanksgiving in itself has a myriad of traditions. Some are nationwide. Others reside in individual households. Then, there are traditions that are hidden from the populous, unknown to the masses.

Such a tradition was discovered in 1902 by an unassuming fireman and engineer on a steam engine. It was, of course, Thanksgiving day. The locomotive had just entered the Marsh Bridge outside of Geneva when a blood-curdling shriek filled the cab, deafening the fireman and engineer.

At that same moment, wracked with shock and terror, the men caught a glimpse of a white figure on the bridge, arms flailing madly. The engineer pulled hard on the breaks, the leviathan of iron lurching and slowing to a stop. There was another shriek, seeming to come from everywhere and nowhere, then the figure vanished into thin air.

The man stumbled out of the cab on the train, frantically searching for the white figure, or perhaps even a hint of what could have possibly caused them to flail their arms in that manner. There were was no blockage or damaged track that could be seen.

In bewilderment, the men climbed back onto the train and stoked it back to life, slowly trudging along. And just when the men were ready to distance themselves from this bizarre event, one last shriek filled the bridge.

A News Clipping of the Wreck

When the train made it to the station, the men related their stories to the other workers. Hoping for reactions of shock and wonderment, they received unsurprised glances from their fellow colleagues.

They knew of this shrieking ghost, and they had their own story to tell.

Several Thanksgivings ago, a train wreck had taken place on the Marsh Bridge. The machine had derailed, hurdling itself into the watery depths of the river below. Both the fireman and engineer plummeted with the train. The engineer’s body was recovered, but the fireman’s body was never seen again. It was lost to the river.

The shrieking spirit has been wailing every Thanksgiving ever since. Alone, on that infernal bridge, forever restless, forever screaming.

Could it be the soul of a fireman, trapped in this mortal realm – very much as his body is trapped in water in the dirt? It’s very possible. It would certainly add to the uniqueness of this story.

But, another question comes to mind with that thought. Is it more than just a story? Was there really a crash?

The truth lies somewhere between fact and fiction.

A Train in Black and White

The Geneva Disaster

There was indeed a locomotive accident on the very bridge that now houses a shrieking spirit. It’s just that it took place in 1875. And in March.

A train was making a journey from Syracuse to Rochester. During this time, Marsh Creek outside of Geneva was experiencing heavy floodwater. The Marsh Bridge was partially submerged.

When the train arrived at the bridge, the wheels slipped off from their tracks and the steam train plummeted into the river. Fortunately, the passengers and other crew members were still on the track.

Unfortunately, engineer Ignatius Buelte and fireman Augustus Sipple sank with the engine.

Interestingly enough, both of their bodies were found days later.

It is difficult to say how this 19th-century disaster has warped into a Thanksgiving Day ghost story, or how this ghost story came to be at all. Who is to really say if there is a ghost on the Marsh Bridge?

They say it appears every year on Thanksgiving, a tradition if you will. And, like all ghost stories, tradition is something that gets passed down through the years.

After all, traditions are just the ghosts of the past

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