Visiting the Tunnel in the 1990s
I first heard of the tunnel from a friend-of-a-friend (isn't that how Urban Legends go?) and I was told that it was haunted and a great place to check out. In the 90s I was mildly interested in the paranormal and began chatting on Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) about local haunts and experiences and one user indicated that they knew of another tunnel, and unlike the popular-Screaming Tunnel, this one was really haunted.
A few high school friends had heard of the tunnel as well and together we made plans to meet others from Thorold High at the entrance to the tunnel. We decided to make the trip down to the tunnel using a flock of beaten-down BMX and mountain bikes. The initial idea was to visit the tunnel and to experience whatever ghost was there but it quickly turned into a get-together as plans were devised to bring a case of beer. We were hoping that perhaps with this new component a few girls might be enticed to make the journey as well.
We managed to make it to the tunnel and found that the get-together was actually a convention of losers with a six-pack and two girls between a dozen boys. We dropped our bikes and proceeded to look over the dark mouth of the tunnel.
It had an eerie feeling to it and we were all apprehensive about going in. We shared stories about the tunnel but I only remember one of the half-dozen that floated around, each ending with one of us declaring it bullshit.
The story went that a little girl was kidnapped by her deranged family friend and brought into the woods near the tunnel. Finding no way to cross from Thorold to a less populated area across the canal where he planned to sexually assault the girl, the man entered the train tunnel. The girl broke free when she was near the back end of the tunnel and the man quickly caught up to her and strangled her to death to stifle her screams. Frantic he took her body and buried it into the East-end woods and it was said that he escaped to the United States and was never heard from again.
Upon hearing the conclusion of the tale, one of us said it was bullshit and mustered enough courage to enter the tunnel.
The rest of us followed, and the only one of us smart enough to think of bringing a flashlight was assigned to take up point. At that time the tunnel did not have any support beams nor much ground work and we quickly came to a halt, stopped by standing water that appeared to go the length of the tunnel.
We stood there for several moments and continued to talk about ghosts and ghost stories. One of us spoke of some teens that drowned near the tunnel in the canal some years ago and that tale, which seemed to be based in fact, scared us back out of the tunnel.
That was my first visit to the tunnel. The beer having been quickly consumed and curfews overrun we decided to ride back home. The girls were scared, but not enough to get undressed or even take comfort in the form of a warm embrace. Aside from eerie feelings and being spooked from the tales, there was no encounter, no ghostly presence and no evidence that would suggest that the tunnel was anything more than a damp, dark hole under the Welland Canal, not worthy of another scouting trip, even with more beer and more willing female participants.
Years later, as my interest in the paranormal grew, the tunnel came up again as a definite hot spot for paranormal activity. Together with a college friend I explored the tunnel and the surrounding area. My friend brought a tape-recorder that we used in class to record lectures and we hoped to capture Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP), or in other terms, ghostly voices.
On this visit I noticed a well-constructed fire pit had been built and several empty bottles of beer were lying near. It had become a popular spot for local teens to escape reality, share a beer, and wonder about the unknown with the tunnel as the backdrop.
The tunnel had changed. Support beams were put into place and railway ties were placed along with fill on the tunnel floor. To the left, a drainage ditch was constructed to allow the flow of water to continue and exit the tunnel.
We recorded about an hour worth of tape from the tunnel using a micro-cassette recorder, and we took several photos. None of the photos produced any anomalies and the sound we recorded produced only what we considered the natural sounds of the tunnel. The tunnel had been damaged by the constant water flow since my first visit, and water was slowly dripping down, echoing like footsteps and knocks, producing an eerie sound.
A year or so later, I visited again, with members of a Bulletin Board System (BBS). We descended the trail with the assistance of General Motors employees who helped us re-locate the tunnel which for some reason we were not able to find, even though two of our group had been there previously.
The GM employees joked about the tunnel's “ghost” and generally tried to scare us for their own amusement. They indicated the ghost was a man that was killed in a train wreck and that we should be careful. Thanking them for directions and cursing them under our breath we proceeded to the tunnel entrance where one of our group members started feeling ill. The wave of nausea did not pass so we decided to leave him at the entrance while the rest of us ventured inside.
Again, photos and audio were recorded, and a videotape was also documenting the experience. This time we heard an audible scream, and whispers. We also heard footsteps running down the length of the tunnel. We remained there, trying to get further evidence and trying to validate the sounds we perceived for several hours. However, nothing noteworthy occurred after the first fifteen minutes.
It seemed we did hear what we concluded was paranormal, however, our audio equipment only recorded the sounds of the footsteps. Later one of our group determined the sound must have come from water dripping, but some of us were not entirely convinced of this theory.
For several years after I heard about the tunnel and the ghostly goings on, but each time the tale was different. It had become an alternative spot for teens to gather, to share experiences and enjoy being apart from the world around them. The tunnel provided solace and for several years it remained nothing more than that—a place to hang out.
In early 2001, I read about a paranormal group who had encounters with The Screaming Tunnel, but their description and location of the tunnel did not match the one on Warner Road in Niagara Falls, Ontario. At the time I believed the poster was either incompetent or simply making up yet another story about The Screaming Tunnel. I didn't realize that this poster was talking about the tunnel behind General Motors, the one we now know as The Blue Ghost Tunnel.
However, the message thread caught the attention of a young paranormal enthusiast from Welland, Ontario, known online as Russ. He had already visited several haunted locations in the Niagara Region and was interested in learning more about the tunnel and visiting it himself.
After several visits, Russ quickly defined his entire online persona by declaring the discovery of the tunnel which he dubbed The Blue Ghost Tunnel. His web page quickly became devoted to the tunnel and he began writing about his experiences in an online journal which he said would lead him to a book deal documenting the encounters with an entity known as September. I followed the online journal and then found out that Russ had taken the website down and abandoned all his work and interest in the paranormal. According to online rumors, he had been so scared about his last encounter at the tunnel that he ran off to Florida to escape its evil grip. Whether or not the rumor was true, Russ disappeared, both online and offline.
At that time I was working on Shadows of Niagara, Investigating Canada's Most Haunted Region, a book that chronicled and documented firsthand all of the haunted locations in the Niagara Region. At first I did not include The Blue Ghost Tunnel but as Internet chatter picked up about the tunnel and others such as Hamilton Paranormal and Amateur Spirit Seekers visited the tunnel, gathering evidence to suggest the tunnel was haunted, I proceeded to make plans to revisit the tunnel with a few psychic-mediums and a host of equipment.
Perhaps my previous visits had missed something extraordinary.
During the work on Shadows of Niagara, several visits to the tunnel were made and recorded. One of the investigations included over a dozen eye-witnesses and produced some interesting results including an audible scream so loud that all in our group heard it, our EVP recorder picked it up, and three video-cameras picked it up. The audio was subjected to analysis and it was determined that the scream heard was indeed real.
All of the visits to the tunnel produced some results and I was convinced that the tunnel was indeed haunted, but there was a lot more work to be done in order to find out by whom and why.