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East End News

Is the Church Hill Tunnel haunted?

Misty Thomas has a post up at Quail Bell Magazine reflecting on the spookier aspects of the Church Hill Tunnel:

When I heard that this tunnel was under about 4,000 feet of my neighborhood, Church Hill, I could not stop thinking about this was some crazy, real life version of a Poltergeist film! It is incredibly interesting to me that this neighborhood was built pretty much on top of a burial ground, so to speak. As I began to become more and more intrigued by my neighborhood, I decided to do more research about the urban legends, if any that have come from this tunnel and it’s collapsing.

I read of residents near and around the tunnel hearing the slight whistle of a locomotive underneath the ground and light screams that could possibly be the souls of the people that were trapped and killed inside of the tunnel. Apparently, there is a lot of supernatural activity that happens around the tunnel entrance and exit in October. Some witnesses have even seen a man trying to get in or out of the tunnel, perhaps to try and save the locomotive. It is sad and incredibly frightening to think that there are souls captured underneath my neighborhood.

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clay st resident 09/02/2013 at 1:54 PM

It’s unfortunate that the writer embellished things to make her story spookier, when this tale does not really need more embellishment. She says she did research but then makes the incorrect assertion that “this neighborhood was built pretty much on top of a burial ground, so to speak.” The neighborhood was here first, given that the tunnel collapse happened in 1925 and many homes up here were built much earlier than that. Also, it is my understanding that the locomotive is pretty close to the western entrance of the tunnel, which would put the “burial ground” directly under Jefferson Park and not the neighborhood per say.

I remember Cold Storage had plans to put a pool for their tenants at the tunnel entrance. Did that ever get built? Talk about creepy…

Michael Jones 09/02/2013 at 2:35 PM

I agree that this piece is a bit heavy on poetic license and short on fact. Cold Storage does have a pool on the tunnel side of one of their buildings but it’s a respectful distance from the tunnel entrance (and I’m sure far enough to avoid a lot of seepage).

Suz 09/02/2013 at 3:26 PM

…and bodies get captured, not souls. i believe.

Savant 09/02/2013 at 10:33 PM

This is another flare-up of the “Twilightization” of Richmond’s history. Thanks to a recent publication about the collapse of the train tunnel where the author decided to tart up the story with vampires, we now have all kinds of childish, idiot accounts seeing circulation. “Misty Thomas'” astonishing discoveries are just such a potboiler of a revelation.

Apparently anybody can dream up any kind of stupid shit, label it “Supernatural Richmond,” and it joins the history of our city.

Misty Thomas 09/02/2013 at 11:29 PM

Honestly, the story was supposed to be spooky. When I first heard the story, I couldn’t sleep. It’s my own personal little horror story in my neighborhood. I aimed to make it spooky, hence, I embellished. 🙂

Scott Burger 09/03/2013 at 9:33 AM

I am going to put this out there again-

Richmond should, exorcise some ghosts and redo the Church Hill tunnel INSTEAD of building more highway (RT. 5 anyone?).

Tunneling technology has improved quite a bit since 1925.

crd 09/03/2013 at 11:12 AM

Scott #6, I seem to recall that someone in recent years tried to get into the tunnel via digging from up in or near Jefferson Park. Project was shelved when they found out it was full of water if memory serves correctly. If anyone else can add to that, I’m interested.

Churchillian 09/03/2013 at 12:54 PM

Burger, revamp the tunnel. Interesting idea. Are their any feasibility studies on this?

All Bark 09/03/2013 at 2:07 PM

it is actually someone’s grave too, dont forget.
Not that I truck with poltergeist-y hocus pocus, but you know, some respect for the dead and all would be good, while we’re spit ballin’ commuter solutions.

Red 09/03/2013 at 4:10 PM Reply
churchhilldenizen 09/03/2013 at 4:29 PM

The previous folks that wanted to excavate found that they would be compromising the foundations of many homes by draining the tunnel. It was paramount to a giant sinkhole if they proceeded with the excavation. It’s an interesting story and good for some ghost stories but I doubt that it’s going to be revamped anytime soon.

Alex 09/03/2013 at 5:05 PM

@11 – along similar lines, I’ve toured a handful of homes along the old tunnel lines over the years and have seen quite a few that had really wonky floors. Not sure if there’s any correlation but it always seemed to me to be some relation already.

And while we’re throwing out stupidly impractical and expense transportation ideas, I’d love to see a big zip line that takes morning commuters right over Church Hill. Either that or a ferry from Rocketts to downtown. Both would of course just be stopgaps until teleporters arrived. They will be funded by lower fixed water rates.

All Bark 09/03/2013 at 7:45 PM

and Alex ftw! I would freakin’ love a zip line.

Scott Burger 09/04/2013 at 1:41 AM

Alex, your personal attacks are pretty sad.
I am certainly not a tunnel expert, but it seems pretty doable to me with modern technology and technique.

Well, it will be interesting to see what happens to Church Hill in the future…


I mean, hey, maybe Church Hill wants to be surrounded by bridges and highways to the tune of over $70 million.

By the way Alex, as for water rate reform, we will see what options DPU presents to City Council at the end of September. Will the public City utility continue to charge residents a PILOT for federal taxes?

Alex 09/04/2013 at 8:05 AM

@14 – I’m not arguing the science here. It’s feasible no doubt. I’m trying to point out that its probably not going to be cost effective though.

Beyond that, it would be pretty freaking disruptive to live above while it was being built and probably not all that quiet once built either.

Stick to your usual water schtick, it’s a stronger play than your transportation ideas.


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