Tunnel under railroad tracks
There are two versions of the legend associated with this tunnel. The first, and most prevalent version, states that a woman decided she didn’t want her baby anymore. So she abandoned it on the railroad tracks that run above this tunnel. The baby is said to have remained on the tracks, crying, for several hours until a train came and killed the baby. Legend has it that if you drive through the tunnel at night with your lights off and your windows down, you will be able to hear the sounds of a baby crying coming from the tracks above the tunnel.
A lesser-known legend surrounding this bridge has a woman walking on the railroad tracks with her baby when she is surprised by an oncoming train. Not knowing what else to do, the woman threw her baby from the tracks “into the water below”. In this version, you can still hear the baby crying when you drive through the tunnel at night, although the part where you need to have your headlights off is often omitted.
For the version where the woman abandoned her baby on the tracks, it is almost always stated that you need to drive through the tunnel with your lights off and your windows down. At present time, it’s unclear if having your windows down is part of the ritual or simply a way to make it easier for you to hear the baby crying.
The tunnel is located near the 1200 block of Schrader Road in Chillicothe, Ohio. Schrader Road runs between Route 50 and Charleston Pike (222). The tunnel itself crosses under a set of tracks owned by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad.
This particular tunnel has had ghost stories attached to it for decades. However, most of the tales are vague and make no mention of hearing a baby crying. Indeed, most of the earliest versions simply said the tunnel was haunted by a woman who was murdered nearby, with no mention of a baby. Currently, I don’t have any documentation (or interviews) associating a baby with this tunnel until early 2001. The version involving the woman throwing the baby into the water doesn’t show up until around 2008 or so.
Concerning the “throwing” variation, it was suggested to me that the story “moved down the tracks” because local police had started running people out of the tunnel because it was dangerous at night (and it is). This would seem to make sense since if someone was going to try and throw a baby off the top of the tunnel into the nearby Scioto River, they’d need to have quite the arm. If they wanted even a chance (a slim one) of hitting water, they would have to move further down the tracks, away from the tunnel. Oh yeah, and this is probably where I should point out that if there’s anything more dangerous than driving through a one-lane tunnel at night with your lights off, it would be wandering around a set of active railroad tracks in the dark.
While doing my research, I did come across another non-Crybaby haunting alleged to be at this tunnel. Seems that someone posted a story on a web forum, claiming the tunnel was haunted by the ghost of a woman who was murdered nearby and then “hung from a tree at the north end of the tunnel with a rubber waterbed mattress.” Oh yeah, and for reasons not entirely clear, “blood from the ceiling will drip on you” if you decide to walk through the tunnel at night. Again, not recommended.
Finally, it’s interesting to note that many online versions of this legend omit the ‘c’ and call the road “Shrader”. This is no such road in Chillicothe.
I can’t tell you if the story about this place is true or not. But I can tell you that I went to the tunnel a couple of years ago with some friends and we DEFINITELY heard what sounded like a baby crying! We drove through the tunnel 3 or 4 times, but with our lights on because there was no way we were going through a dark tunnel at night with no lights on. We didn’t hear anything and then my best friend said that it was because we had our lights on. So we parked on the side of the road, turned our lights off, and then she walked into the tunnel alone.
I guess it was maybe 5 minutes that we were sitting there when all of a sudden we heard what sounded like a baby crying. It wasn’t coming from the top of the tunnel, though. It was coming from the woods. But there were 3 of us in the car and we all heard it! Then my friend comes trucking out of the tunnel screaming that she saw something moving at the other end of the tunnel. We got the hell out of there!
A couple of days later, I asked my friend what she thought she was. She said it was hard to see, but there was definitely something there and it looked like the shadow of a person. She said that when she heard the baby crying sound, the shadow just sort of moved closer towards her, like it was coming into the tunnel. That was when she ran.
That waterbed story was just something a bunch of my friends made up. We went out there to try and hear the baby cry and didn’t hear s***. Thought it was all a bunch of BS so we decided to make up our own ghost story just to see if we could get people to believe it. We didn’t make up the stuff about the blood dripping on you, though.
–Paul D., Chillicothe, OH
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Interface Death – Forgotten Spirits II: Legends of Ross County (documentary featuring Crybaby Tunnel)
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