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Train Brakeman Still Looking


Around ten years ago, I resided at Fayetteville North Carolina; which is approximately fifteen to twenty miles from the town of Vander N.C. This story actually begins around nineteen seventy eight, or around about this time.

At the time I was around twenty three years old, and as of course most young boys of my age; I were curious of everything, either natural and/or unnatural. I had heard about the Vander light and was somewhat curious about the matter. Some of my friends had told me about this light and some of the characteristics of this event.

They had explained that on a back road, (off of the main road leading south of Fayetteville) that on a gloomy night, with very few to no stars in the sky; a bad accident had occurred quite a few years ago, in which a man was travelling in the rear of a train-car (cabose); when he noticed another train approaching behind the train he was flagging for.

He began to swing the lantern from side to side, to warn the approaching engineer of the situation. It has been said that the approaching engineer was busy and didn't see the lead train. As to the story that I had been told, after the accident the only part of the flagman's body that was not found was his head!

I had to see this for myself and as soon as the time came where there was a dark and gloomy night we went to see about what was the truth or otherwise. Well much to my astonishment, we could only park beside the main road and walk down the track (being especially cautious of oncoming trains). About one quarter of the way down the tracks, we came close to a Y in the tracks; where there had to have been a split to the right in the tracks.

About two hundred feet from this split, in the tracks, I began to notice a faint glowing light going from side to side; back and forth. I was not alone, but trying not to be scared, continued on (my friends did not) much to my dismay. It seemed that the closer that I got the faster the light seemed to move towards me.

At around twenty five feet or so, the swinging light disappeared. This was truly spooky, I have to admit; but when I turned around to return to the road, the same swinging light was exactly the same distance as it was previously.

Now I am starting to get a little worried. In the same matter as of to the speed approach, as when I had first come up to the light, the light did the same. It didn't take me long to reach the car, as you would guess.

I returned to this area once more in about five years or so at which time my exact memory was not completely positive as to the exact site, in Vander. Local directions were not completely reliable, so I began to ride around until I found the exact place. This time I was on a dirt-bike, for a quick getaway; if need be.

When I approached the Y in the tracks, there was no sign of this light. But when I went to turn around, and after I was actually facing the opposite direction I could see the same lights, but this time they were only in my mirrors. In fact each and every time I would turn around, they were there. Then I was truly scared, so I backed up the dirt-bike and gunned it and actually jumped both sets of the Y split.

I know that this is most definitely not some kind of a prank or anything else of the same. In fact as it goes I would be willing to submit to a polygraph test as to what I really saw. It only occurs on a dark and gloomy night and that's the only time, for some unforseen reason. Who knows, maybe the conditions of a dark and gloomy night are the same as when the accident happened.

AI don't really know, nor do I now care. But I know what I saw and I think that my friends saw the same thing, that's what scared them so. Sure I'd go back, but only to prove what I'm saying can be witnessed by anyone with the same wish to know the truth!

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Comments about this paranormal experience

The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, norman, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

rhodes68 (14 stories) (1596 posts)
15 years ago (2008-11-21)
To norman:You're welcome-I found your story fascinating but didn't comment as I felt that some posters had already covered what I was going to say.

Like FRAWIN put it "most urban legends are rooted in truth" so keep up the posts.

Looking forward to reading more from you Norman!

Thank you
norman (1 stories) (2 posts)
15 years ago (2008-11-21)
To:rhodes68,Thanks very much for helping me to edit and correct any mistakes that I have made. It was really exciting when my story was shown. As time goes by I may come up with more information on the "Train Brakeman Still Looking". I was born and raised in North Carolina and lived there for the most of my life. There are quiet a few real ghost stories, that are in both North Carolina and the surounding states that I have been told about and I will be contacting the most reliable people that I know and be working on culing out the ones that are "real" and the ones that I find out to be just folk tales with no merit. I really enjoy reading other real ghost stories and have sort of a special feeling for knowing the real ones v/s the ones that seem to be real fishy. Thanks again, Norman 😊
FRAWIN (guest)
15 years ago (2008-11-16)
Hello norman. While I would be one of the first to say that this sounds like an urban legend; I would also be one of the first to say that most urban legends is rooted in fact. I believe you saw something out of the ordinary, not once but twice. It don't take a rocket scientist to see that something is going on. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
Take Care.

ghostseer (41 stories) (408 posts)
15 years ago (2008-11-16)
Another residual haunted location. I enjoyed reading the article. Every county has similar stories. In Hawaii, it is seeing torches coming down trails. They are all so interesting. Thanks for sharing your story. I truly enjoyed reading your account. Blessings!, Ghostseer
whitebuffalo (guest)
15 years ago (2008-11-16)
According to a regional newspaper article (from the region of the "late" Moonville, Ohio. The town no longer exists) dated 3/31/1859:
"A brakesman on the Marietta & Cincinnati Railroad fell from the cars near Cincinnati Furnace, on last Tuesday March 29, 1859 and was fatally injured, when the wheels passing over and grinding to a shapeless mass the greater part of one of his legs. He was taken on the train to Hamden and Doctors Wolf and Rannells sent for to perform amputation, but the prostration of the vital energies was too great to attempt it. The man is probably dead ere this. The accident resulted from a too free use of liquor."
Railroad workers in trains running on that line started to report seeing a ghostly man who would stand on the tracks and wave a lantern causing the train to stop. He might be in the tunnel, just outside or on the tracks leading to or from the structure. For a time, railroad engineers stopped their trains in case it was a real person warning them of impending danger. But after a while they got so used to the apparition that they ignored it and kept going.
In July of 1977 a B&O freight train was headed west through the Moonville area. Near midnight, an inexperienced engineer saw a man standing on the track and swinging a lantern. Just before he could brake, a conductor told him to ignore the man and wait. He had already been through this many times before. At fifty miles an hour, the lights of the engine shown on the man and flowed through him. The figure then vanished.
Maco Station, North Carolina:
On a rainy night in 1867, conductor Joe Baldwin lost his head -- literally. He had discovered that the final car, and the rest of the train had been separated. As he looked out the rear of his car, he could see an express train bearing down on him. He began to wildly wave his lantern, while standing on the outside platform, at the rear door, to signal to the approaching train of his location. The other engineer did not see him, and the express careened into the coach, demolishing it and decapitating Joe.
To this day, Joe's ghost lantern still burns over that stretch of railroad. Old railroaders swear that it is the ghost of Joe Baldwin looking for its head (which, by the way, was never found). The ghost light causes a real problem because other engineers have often mistaken it for a real signal. As a result, the railroad ordered its signalmen at Maco to use two lanterns, one red and one green. That way there would be no mistake as to which lantern was the ghost light and which lantern was real.
These are only two examples, but there are MANY documented accounts of such ghostly lights. (NOT to be confused with Faery Lights, Hobbedy's Lantern, St. Elmo's Fire, Elf Fire, Jack-o-Lantern, Will-o'-the-Whisp,, Willowisps, Will-o'-Light, Bob-A-Longs, Night Whispers, Fire Faeries, Jenny Burnt-Tail, Hunky Punky, Teine Sith, Huckpoten, Irrbloss, Les Eclaireux, Candelas, Ruskaly, fox fire, ignis fatuus, which are ALL attributed to ignited pockets of swamp gas that hover over swamps and swampy areas and glow blue. A similar phenomenon occurs on ships when the air is full of electricity.)
In short (not likely) I believe you to have witnessed a phenomenon that is YET to be "debunked". No need for a Polygraph test. MANY "respected" persons have witnessed these types of lights, and THEIR sanity was not put into question.
Thank you.

** Traverse City Paranormal Society
**Paranormal Studies
norman (1 stories) (2 posts)
15 years ago (2008-11-15)
I really apreciate the coments that the readers have sent in as of to the article that I sent In. It's Reasuring to know that other people are begining to accept the fact that, maybe we are not mere mortals; but that there is some sort of presence that goes on even after our physical form has been depleted. At least we most definately hope so. Keep the coments coming and maybe someday we will be able to get to the point where we can trully understand the force that is controling our physical and or paranormal existence.
Matt (4 posts)
15 years ago (2008-11-15)
Well I haven't heard of this, but for me to say it's false or some what foolish well in deed make me foolish. So I read your story and without research I have to say it's true. There has been many brakemen killed the life span of a brakeman was less than 5 years. Although I understand you aren't lookin for my "proval", so to speak, but I thought I would put my input
libertybelle (14 stories) (207 posts)
15 years ago (2008-11-15)
I've heard of the Vander Light (and the Maco Light, too--the stories are virtually identical); having lived in Fayetteville for nearly thirty years, I don't know how I could avoid hearing about it! 😆

A friend of mine who lived in Cumberland County all of her life once told me that one of her uncles went to check out the Vander Light and had it go right through him!

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