31 October 2008

Somerville is Spooked

More than 500 area residents made their way to the Jersey Central Railroad passenger station in Somerville late on the night of July 23, 1915 - hoping to be scared out of their wits!

New York Herald headline, 25 July 1915

They came looking for the ghost that had been seen and heard scampering about the large railroad yard between the station and the cemetery. For about a week, hideous shrieks had been heard in and around the lines of freight cars and the big roundhouse.

The area around the Somerville Station, with a South Branch Railroad train approaching,
from an 1882 panoramic view of the town.


Thomas Hagan, the rail yard night watchman was the first to hear the piercing cries, and the first to see the human-like figure flitting in the shadows. At first, Hagan was laughed at - but then residents of Somerville began to hear the eerie cries. Cries so loud and evil that they were unable to sleep.

Borough residents began sitting up at night, leaving their lights on, listening for the ghastly yells - which now seemed to be coming from the graveyard. Hagan and three other railroad employees finally had enough and abruptly quit - unable to stand the strain of working while a ghost was lurking.

Now 500 of Somerville's bravest citizens, aided by the Chief of Police, his officers, and seven railroad detectives were determined to catch the ghost at last - and put an end to their nightly terror.

Alas, it was not to be. Some time after midnight, strange sounds were heard, but could not be located - and the apparition failed to appear. The crowd dispersed - some relieved, some disappointed. And the Somerville Spook was never heard from again.

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