Moonville Tunnel Ghosts - Lavender Lady
The ghost of a woman is said to walk along the far side of the tracks, followed by the scent of lavender.
Some describe her as an elderly woman, slightly bent and thin. She ambles across the tracks, vanishes as if falling and then is followed by a faint whiff of lavender perfume.Other legends state the ghost is that of a woman from Mineral who was crossing the train trestle at the Moonville Tunnel. She was struck and killed by a train. It was quite common for folks to take the tracks from one town to the next - the railway was built on the only flat sections of land, leaving roadways and paths with steep climbs up the large Appalachian hills here. Walking the railroad tracks cut off time and energy. Towns like Hope, Mineral, Kings Station and Vinton were far easier to get to by the railroad path. Some of them had post offices, home saloons and stores that other towns did not offer.
Rumor has it that she was a younger woman, walking home from a saloon (most likely Lockhart's) and it was late at night or very early morning. Her ghost still walks the area where her broken body had fallen after being hit from the train.
Some people claim to catch the scent of lavender wafting in the wind even in winter on the far side of the tunnel. An early witness even claims someone followed him along the tracks and when he took off in a run, the ghost kept a good pace with him. In sheer panic, when he veered off the tracks, the spirit disappeared.
So is there any evidence a woman was killed on the tracks? There are actually three documented cases:
1873 Unknown Woman killed on Tracks
There is one account in a local paper Athens Messenger that might account for Lavender Lady on Thursday, October 16, 1873—While we delayed for a few minutes at Moonville on last Monday we heard reference to the instant killing of a woman in the deep cut near that town the day previous by the morning express. The name of the woman we failed to ascertain.
Thursday October 16, 1873 - Athens Messenger:
1890 Missus Patrick Shea
Friday, January 10, 1890 - A second fatality was noted in the Stuebenville Weekly newspaper in January of Mrs. Mary Shea, of Moonville, aged 80, fatally hurt by a train. Mrs. Patrick Shea (in her eighties and a grandmother of Michael Shea) was walking the Moonville to Hope and while crossing the trestle was struck by a train. Her leg had to be amputated and she died from the shock. Recalled by Michael L. Shea.
Steubenville Weekly Herald, January 10, 1890
1890 - Deborah Allen
And then, there is The Delphos Weekly Herald November 17 1892 printed this story about 76 year-old Deborah Allen:
Moonville Tunnel Access:
Moonville Tunnel Access: There is now a bridge crossing from a parking area to the tunnel located here: (39.308458, -82.324539). Simply cross the steel bridge and continue up the hill. It will be on the left.
For a larger view of the map, please click on the + at the bottom right corner.