Sensabaugh Tunnel is more correctly called a “culvert.” A culvert is a tunnel beneath a road or train track used to direct water. The location is often debated about, and some say it’s in Kingsport, but it’s in Hawkins County.
Legend states when a car stops in the tunnel, you hear a woman and a baby cry. How the lore originated is likely the result of our colorful Appalachian storytellers, but here are several common variations:
- A hobo burglarized Ed Sensabaugh, who lived in the white house opposite the tunnel. The robber took the jewelry and silver, and the baby as insurance. However, when the authorities got too close, he threw the baby in the tunnel and disappeared. The baby drowned.
- Ed Sensabaugh went insane one night in the 1950s. He murdered his entire family and took their bodies to the creek in the tunnel. He then killed himself there. If you drive into the tunnel and turn your car off, it will not restart. If you look in your rearview mirror, you can see Ed approach your car with his bloody axe. Just as he raises to hit your car, you should be able to start your engine.
- A woman and her child, desperate to escape an abusive husband, fled his wrath, and hid in the tunnel. He found and killed them both. The same story as above, however, the woman had another man’s child. The same ending results from that legend.
- A woman drove home one night and decided to take a short cut through the tunnel. The car broke down in the tunnel. Her car was found the next morning with the door open. She was never seen again.
- A cruel overseer caught a slave who has escaped with her children in the tunnel. He killed them all.
- No person can walk the tunnel “back to front” at midnight without going insane or being attacked by an unseen malevolent force.
- Don’t stop your car in the tunnel. There’s a chance it won’t restart and you’ll be terrorized by a tall, dark figure with glowing red eyes. Then, a child’s handprints are burned into the outside of your car.
For the truth behind this legendary landmark, click here.