As haunted places go, the Flinderation Tunnel just west of Clarksburg seems to have it all: a super-creepy atmosphere, proximity to an old graveyard (right on top of the tunnel, of all places), a tragic history of a train wreck, and a bit of fame too, from having appeared on national television and in several 'haunted places' books.
So is it really 'all that'?
Google 'Flinderation haunted tunnel' and you'll find plenty of accounts detailing EVPs, orbs, apparitions, and other paranormal activity here. Many accounts, however, are simply retellings of other accounts – often word for word. All of them mention the terrible train wreck, but never identify the train or the date, or the names of the dead.
As the daughter of a railroad man, I know something of what happens when a locomotive runs into a person: what's left over is never pretty. But I'd never heard of such an accident causing a derailment, and that one wrong chord in the story led me at last to the Waldomore's West Virginia Room archives.
After some hunting there, and over an hour's visit with historian David Houchin, followed by some lengthy internet searches, and a few phone calls, very few facts had turned up. The railroad was opened in 1857, chartered by the Northwestern Virginia Railroad for the B&O – and the BO timelines show no record of any such tunnel derailment here. Likewise, searches of newspaper archives and obituaries turn up nothing familiar to the story.
Still, it must be said that a walk through this thousand-foot tunnel is hair-raising enough, with or without a phantom train. Walking under a graveyard is hard enough to bear too, without looking up to see patches of the roof breaking away above you.
And if sound effects do anything for you, you're in for a treat here: not only does the wind whistle through the tunnel at times, but the hollow tunnel picks up the vibrations from neighboring Route 50, and the passing of high-speed traffic and tractor trailers produce a mournful, faint howl that sends shivers up the spine. Add to that the constant drip of moisture from the roof which echoes against the brick walls to sound like slow approaching footsteps, and the stage is set for terror.
If you've got a yearning for scary places, put Flinderation Tunnel on your list; with or without the train, it's the spookiest place around. If you've got any information about the alleged train wreck there, please share details in the comment sections -- such a catastrophe, if real, deserves to be remembered properly.
Meanwhile, to see the tunnel for yourself, take Route 50 west from Clarksburg. After 9 miles or so, turn right onto Flinderation Road (it's the next turn past the sign for Lake Floyd). The road will bend to the right, and just short of a quarter-mile later, you'll see crossbars on both sides of the road, where the Rail Trail crosses. Pull over and park in front of the bar on the right side of the road, and you'll be able to see the tunnel down the trail from there; it's a short walk.
Photos of the tunnel are in the left sidebar: they're not photoshopped at all, but shown straight out of the camera. (White patches on the floor and walls are only ice.)
Flinderation, n. : a state of being in flinders, or fragments. (common in the South, c. 1900)