Haunted Hoosier Trails: A Guide to Indiana's Famous Folklore Spooky Sites

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9781578601158: Haunted Hoosier Trails: A Guide to Indiana's Famous Folklore Spooky Sites

Wanda Lou Willis takes readers on a frightening journey across Indiana, exploring haunted houses, rivers, and other locations. Supplemented with excellent original maps, photos, and illustrations, Haunted Hoosier Trails is a collection of spooky tales and real-life horror stories that doubles as a Halloween travel guide.

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EXCERPTS

When settlers first came to Indiana before 1800, the Miami, Delaware, and Potawatomi tribes who already inhabited the region had a long tradition of stories about tragic death and haunting spirits.

Pioneers, the builders of Indiana canals, villagers, and city dwellers added their own tales of mansions where sad deaths happened and spirits walked, and of murders and kidnappers whose foul crimes seemed to be punished from beyond the grave. These traditions have come down to us today, joined by modern folk tales that raise the hair on the head and startle the imagination.

Journey with us to Hazelcot, the deserted dream mansion in Whitley County; to the forsaken and frightening tomb of riverboat captain Francis McHarry along the Ohio, where ships to this day toot out their homage to avoid the ghost’s curse; and to the bridges near Avon, Indiana, where who-knows-what will occur during Halloween.

Excellent maps and directions will help you and your family go find out for yourselves: do ghosts still walk the roads and trails of the Hoosier heartland? These carefully researched and truly frightening tales by one of Indiana’s most popular folklorists will provoke and amuse even the most skeptical reader.

Southern Indiana – Jackson County

Trombone Tommy
A haunted railroad tunnel near Medora, between Medora and Fort Ritner, has a ghost not believed to be frightening, but rather sad.

During the 1920s and 1930s jobs were hard to find and often a man would have to travel miles from home just to earn a meager living. In many instances the unwilling vagrants were forced to become knights of the rails – hobos. Along the rails these itinerants would set up camps where all of the knights were welcome to stay, bunk under the starts and share cans of beans for as long as they wished.

One of these knights must have been a musician at one time for he always traveled with his trombone. His companions dubbed him Trombone Tommy. People who lived in the area often talked about hearing him playing his trombone as he walked through the nearby railroad tunnel. One night, intent on playing, he evidently didn’t hear a freight train enter the tunnel and was killed.

On summer evenings the town’s residents had heard Trombone Tommy’s coming from the tunnel as they sat on their front porches cooling off from the hot summer’s sun. Though no one in the community knew him or even had met him, they soon realized they missed him. His trombone was silent.

However, shortly after the accident, people began to hear the echoes of music coming from the direction of the tunnel. At first they were frightened, but then they accepted and enjoyed the music for what it was. Trombone Tommy was continuing to play for them even after death.

Southern Indiana – Washington County

The Pekin Ghost
In 1977 Robert and Pam French purchased the 1863 farmhouse located at 8178 S. State Road 335 in Pekin, Indiana. The first Halloween they lived in the house they decorated with jack-o-lanterns and purchased candy in anticipation of trick-or-treaters. None came, though they could see children going to houses near them. When they mentioned this to some of their neighbors, they were told the children were afraid to go to their house because it was haunted.

The Frenches had been in the house for about a year when Pam was dusting and realized that when she turned her back, small items such as pictures or figurines would mysteriously be moved from one spot to another.

The following year Pam finally saw the ghost, a slim, barefooted young boy, about seven or eight years old. His dark hair was cut in the bowl style and he whore bib overhauls and a shirt. He didn’t say anything, just stared at her. When Pam said “Hello, there,” the boy ran into another room and disappeared.

The Frenches haven’t seen their friendly, mischievous, young ghost for sometime, though they feel his presence in the house. Pam believes that once the boy had met them and found out that they were nice people to live with, he was content to stay in the shadows and from time to time play little jokes by moving small items when she wasn’t looking.

They have lived in the house for twenty-five years and each Halloween they purchase candy in anticipation – and still no trick-or-treaters have come to their door.

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