William Maloney was an expert railroad telegraph operator in Trenton, New Jersey in May of 1909 when he declared a “ghost” reported the location of a train from the railroad tower at Dickinson’s crossing—located just above Cadwalader Park.
Maloney stated that he was sitting in the tower waiting for Train 64, west bound to pass by, the hour for its arrival at Dickinson’s being near at hand. At about 10:30 P.M. he heard someone climbing up the steps leading to the tower. Believing it might be a tramp, he pulled his revolver from his pocket. Instead he encountered a tall man, dressed in pure white, with the pallor of death on his face. The man in white opened the door and entered. Maloney was too frightened to move. He recognized the figure to be that of James Phillips, a railroad operator who was killed in the same tower by a tramp a few months before.
The terror was too much for Maloney to handle. He dropped his revolver and rushed from the tower almost falling half way down the steps. He said the ghost did not speak a word, but looked pensively at the instrument on the table.
Suddenly Maloney heard the shrill whistle of No. 64 and was tempted to flag the train down. He realized that the superintendent would not stand for anyone holding up the division—even if there were ten ghosts in every rail tower on the road. As the train passed the shivering telegrapher realized he must report it immediately.
Determined to do his duty, Maloney crept up the tower steps and peeked in the door. Nobody was inside and the operator boldly entered closing and barring the door behind him. Jumping to the instrument, he called Coalport, where the chief dispatcher received all division reports.
Maloney took a deep breath and sent his message to the chief. “64W passed Dickinson’s on time.”
“Any trouble there?” queried the chief.
“Yes. Just saw a ghost. Will make report tomorrow,” responded the tower man.
“Well, that ghost must be pretty live. He reported 64 safe five minutes before you, with your own sign,” was the answer of the chief.
The Coalport office was positive there were two reports of the same train within a short time of each other and both messages were marked “JM” Maloney’s sign. The first message read, “64W O.K. Dickinson’s: on time.”
The operator who knew “Jim” Phillips said this was the way he usually worded train messages. Does the ghost of the old tower man still lurk along the old railroad line above Cadwalader Park. It just might be worth a night watch.
Haunted Places Examiner: Debe Branning firstname.lastname@example.org