Bostian Bridge is a fixture near Statesville, North Carolina. It is also the scene of one of the most popular phantom trains in the state. The Bostian wreck remains the worst train accident in North Carolina’s history. In the 1890s, there were even rumors that the accident was due to sabotage. What really happened that night?
It was a stormy night on August 27, 1891. People were eager to get out of the dreary weather and get to their destinations. Train #9 pulled out of the Statesville station and trudged on through the elements. It was 1 am and most passengers had fallen asleep. The travelers couldn’t see that creeks and rivers had increased and several had flooded. The train was loaded with passengers and baggage, as well as the mail. It was on its way to Asheville, North Carolina.
No one could see the rails ahead, just before the bridge. They’d spread apart due to erosion and bad weather. At 3 am, the train jumped the tracks and plunged down a 90 foot drop into the ravine below. The creek risen to the size of river due to the torrential rains, which also made rescue efforts as dangerous as the wreck itself. The downpour was so heavy that no one living near the bridge even heard the wreck happen. The conductor, the only person capable of walking, had to walk back to the station just to notify the authorities of the accident.
One traveler named Mrs. Poole survived the wreck, but drowned in the river. Her daughter, Luellen Poole, held her mother up with her until her arms gave out.
Conflicting accounts say Engineer West either was found in small pieces, or pinned beneath the cab. There were also two female bodies found near him, but it was unclear how they got from the first class carriage into the engine room. The baggage master of the train was Hugh K. Linster, who became just as famous as the phantom train years later. Accounts also state that Fireman Fry was removed from the scene in pieces. It was established that only a handful of the deceased were actually intact.
Many of the bodies were found in pieces. No one on the sleeper car survived. There were human remains strode across the ravine. Initial estimates stated that 40 were believed to be dead, and another 25 were seriously wounded. Once located, the dead bodies were taken to a Statesville warehouse, pending family notification.
In the end, around 30 had died.
A year after the accident a group of people in the area heard the squeal of train wheels and the sound of metal crumpling. They ran to the tracks to find a strange man in rail company clothing. He nodded and tipped his cap, just before he disappeared. Locals recognized him as baggage-master H. K. Linster.
The legend states that every year, on the anniversary of the wreck, people can see a phantom train careening off the bridge. They can hear the screams and the groan of metal. Every time someone investigates, there is nothing to be found.
It is not recommended for anyone to approach the bridge, due to safety reasons. A group of paranormal investigators came to investigate the bridge in 2010 with disastrous results. One person died and several were injured because a real train came when they were on the bridge.