An Alberta Ghost Story
I was a railway fireman back in those days, working on the CPR line in Alberta. I did a hard day’s work and earned me a fair wage. I was young then, and my pretty little bride was just setting up housekeeping in the little cottage that was all we could afford. Life was good, and I thought everything would continue rolling along that way.
Then came that fateful day in May of 1908. I was working nights that month, and my buddy Twohey was the engineer. We were about three kilometers out of Medicine Hat when a blazing light appeared in front of the engine. It was another train on a collision course with us. Twohey yelled at me to jump, but there was no time. The light was right on top of us. I thought we were dead. Then the oncoming train veered off to the right and ran passed us, its whistle blowing and the passengers staring at us through the windows. But there was only a single track in that stretch of hills, and it was the one we were on. I looked over at the shrieking, rumbling Ghost Train and saw that the wheels were not touching the ground!
Well, we were mighty spooked by the incident. Twohey decided to take some time off from engineering and began working in the yard; but I kept working the night shift as a fireman, not wanting some Ghost Train to drive me away a job I enjoyed.
A few weeks later, I was stoking the fire for an engineer named Nicholson when we heard the shrill whistle blast through the calm night air. We were on the same single track just outside of Medicine Hat, and the brilliant light of the Ghost Train burst out of nowhere, blinding us. Nicholson gave a shout of terror and I thought my heart would stop. As before, the Ghost Train veered off to the right at the last possible second. I saw it race passed us on tracks that did not exist, its passengers staring curiously at Nicholson and I from out of the windows.
That did it. I wasn’t about to go back on the tracks after that. I did yard work for the rest of the month of May and a few weeks in June. Finally, I decided that enough was enough, and I gritted my teeth and resumed my role as fireman.
I was firing up an engine in the yard one evening in early July when the report of an accident came in. The Spokane Flyer and a Lethbridge passenger train had a head-on collision on the single track three kilometers outside of Medicine Hat, on the exact spot where the Ghost Train had appeared. The Lethbridge locomotive had derailed and its baggage car was destroyed. Seven people were killed in the accident, including the two engineers. One was my buddy Twohey, and the other was Nicholson.
You can read more Canadian folktales and ghost stories in Spooky Canada by S.E. Schlosser.
Author retelling: This is a unique author retelling of this folktale. This version of the story is copyrighted to S.E. Schlosser. See the Contact Us page for information on reprints.