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Flinderation Tunnel : a history in fragments

Broken ice lines the abandoned railroad tunnel under the cemetery on Flinderation Road, west of Clarksburg, WV
Broken ice lines the abandoned railroad tunnel under the cemetery on Flinderation Road, west of Clarksburg, WV
Susan Carleton, 2011

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)


  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    Hi Susan,

    I posted this version of Flinderation! on my Facebook wall. (I hope you don't mind.)


  • Profile picture of Susan Carleton
    Susan Carleton 4 years ago

    Thanks Karen! I don't mind at all -- feel free to pass along anything posted here if you like.

  • J. Spriggs 3 years ago

    Hello Ms. Carleton, my team of three is really getting serious about ghost hunting and Flinderation Tunnel is our next stop. We will be traveling to Salem to the tunnel on November 15th, 2011. (This upcoming Tuesday) I would love to meet you in person to acquire any more information you might be able to provide us. Please reach me at (304) 615-1420 if you are interested in meeting our paranormal group and helping us out a bit. Thanks for your time and have a nice day.

  • Profile picture of ValarieM27
    ValarieM27 3 years ago

    How did your investigation go? Curious to hear about your experience!

  • ValarieM27 3 years ago

    Will this be your first visit to Flinderation Tunnel? I am absolutely jealous, as I wish I could relive my first visit there. You and your team will not be disappointed, as a veteran investigator of that tunnel, not once have I been in there and left empty handed. (Always... ALWAYS EVP's... 75% of them are class A)... A particular investigation there this past summer completely changed my views on the paranormal and made me a TRUE believer. That night, over 50 stones were thrown on command, and in response to my friend and I as well as a few whistles, and audible voices.... I've uploaded clips from that investigation, as well as some other investigations from that location on my youtube channel... check it out: valariemyers1
    again, I hope you guys have a great time in there, and come out with loads of evidence!

  • J. Spriggs 3 years ago

    You were definitely right, as we not disappointed in the least bit at all! We caught a few disembodied voices on our EVP sessions, and we also heard numerous stones being thrown all night. I believe the spirits out there are EXTREMELY intelligent, as they would throw stones in response to our questions as well, and not just out of random influence. I will definitely check out your channel on YouTube, so thanks for that as well. My own personal experience out in the tunnel was exhilarating, to say the least! My two teammates both say I was in oppression, (The first stage of being possessed) as I showed extreme aggression and anger at times towards them. I am black, and it is said that the KKK performed lynchings out in the tunnel on occasion. My team and I came across outstanding connections between myself and the tunnel. If you would like to hear the story (There is much more to be explained), please let me know. Thanks for your response and hope to hear from you soon.

  • Profile picture of ValarieM27
    ValarieM27 3 years ago

    That is fantastic! Do you upload your EVPs at all? I'd definitely be interested in hearing them. A partial possession?! That is very strange, it's my thought to have touched on that slightly with the female 'Mary' there (feelings of sadness, etc)... A group of friends and I went in at the beginning of November and on that particular night- I stood in one of those cubbyholes hoping to get a response (as I have in the past), standing in there initially that time gave me extreme vertigo... Anyhow- I was in there a good 10-15 minutes, and started to antagonize them a bit... 4-5 single strands of hair on the top of my head were pulled, perhaps even out! So many strange things have happened there lol, we could talk for hours. Do you facebook? Valarie Myers, find me!

  • J. Spriggs 3 years ago

    One of our team members does, but I don't. The reason why is I usually use his recorder, or not at all. And yes, the oppression was a unique personal experience for me. Your experience sounds equally intense and interesting. Haha I wouldn't doubt that we could tell some stories worth a few hours. I do have a Facebook. I mean, who doesn't these days.? It would probably be much easier for you to find me. Look up our group, called Spirit Detectives. We are a three man team, and my name is Spriggs. Should be a lot easier for you to find me instead of the inverse. Hope to hear from you soon.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    My friend and I were there yesterday, Had a lot of things go on with lights going out on demand and so-forth. One part of the tunnel made us both get freeing cold. We took alot of pics, my friends didn't work so well. Mine caught orbs and misty shadows and other strange things. I am surely going back many times more if I can. This place has alot of activity.

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