The Haunting of Brush Creek Bridge

Brush Creek Bridge
One of the more interesting features of our farm we call Sycamore Hill is the creek that runs through a woods on the west side of our property.  Early settlers first named the creek Brush Creek, likely due to its primary path through wetlands now long since drained.  Just west of the creek is an abandoned rail bed that never saw even its first interurban car pass over it due to the company's collapse.  And just to the west of that is the abandoned Vandalia Railroad bed; the last train passed over it many decades ago.

At the back corner of our property Brush Creek takes a very sharp turn to the west before making another sharp turn north.  Over this short section of creek between its curves, the railroad constructed a steel bridge in the late 1800s.  Abandoned now, it serves as a picturesque reminder of our property's connection to the railroad....something I first noted in the photo at the top of this post when we visited the farm after a heavy snow, but before we moved in.

But it was what we didn't know about the Brush Creek Bridge that moves our conscious thought from picturesque to tragic.  The area near the bridge has an absolute silence, tucked down into the deep banks of the creek with lowlands on each side of the flowing water.  A few large trees send their branches out over the creek and a path worn by deer skirts the edge of the bank.  The rusted steel of the bridge creates a midnight-black form at night, removing all light and reflection from moonlight on the creek below.  Shortly after we moved to Sycamore Hill a friend forwarded a newspaper story from 1910 about a tragedy that occurred on the Brush Creek Bridge.

James Heminger, a veteran of the Civil War, was instantly killed on the bridge on December 13, 1910.  The older man joined another man by the name of Eli Silvius to hunt rabbits in the early morning hours of the 13th.  After some time Heminger handed his bag of game to his hunting companion and for some unknown reason headed to the bridge.  Speculation on Heminger's death indicated that he must have been standing on the ties of the bridge when an engine with the Lake Erie and Western passenger train struck him.  Heminger was deaf, which was the immediate cause reasoned for his not hearing the train as it approached.

The newspaper article stated that the body was badly mutilated.  The back of the head was crushed in, the left shoulder torn, the neck and left side of his face were cut open.  The lower part of his body was also crushed and the bones broken.  Heminger was described only as "an old soldier".

I've often wondered how one couldn't sense the approaching engine.  As anyone who has been even near a railroad knows, the vibrations in the ground-let alone a raised rail bed-would surely make up for other loss of senses.  Was this truly an accident?  And does the ghost of Private Heminger linger on Brush Creek Bridge?  While I leave out the more gruesome details of his death, I suggest to family and friends that the old soldier wanders the old railroad bed in search of his severed toe.

Great Halloween Story eh?  You can read the newspaper article here:  Killed by Train


Anonymous said…
now a haunted bridge too! When are you going to strike oil or find gold on that hill?
to the young man who posted this story of the haunted bridge my name is peter j. balinovic and i would very much like to contact you personally because it is my great grand father that is haunting your property. i would be more than happy to tell you who he was in life and what really happened to him. he was deaf due to a cannon blast during a battle that he fought in tenn. during the civil war.he was with the 13th ind. calvary reg. co.k 1861 to 1865.he was very proud of his service he wore his medal till the day he died. my email is i would love to share my photos and documents and tell you the rest of the please contact us. you cant image mine and my families suprise when i came across your story today and found out our grandfather has been scaring the hell out of people for 100 years. lol

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