Friday, October 28, 2011
There Be Vampires in Virginia!
I write fiction, but I also write nonfiction ghost books. My ghost books have more than ghosts or ghostly myths and legends, as Virginia is also rich in tales about werewolves, Sasquatch, UFOs, and much more, just like any other state. There are even vampire stories. For my first book, Haunted Richmond, Virginia, I discovered a vampire in Richmond. The Richmond Vampire even has a Facebook Page .
On October 2, 1925 the railroad dug the Church Hill railroad tunnel. After three o’clock in the afternoon, a worker, Campbell heard a brick fall, then another and another, then a terrible crackling noise sounded along the tunnel roof and he dashed for safety. The roof crashed down behind him. The combined sounds of earth, bricks, timber, and the screams of trapped men were loud and horrifying. Lights in the tunnel flickered and went out, and crew members and laborers rushed for the exits. Some made out of the western entrance, which was only a few hundred yards away, but the others scrambled for the eastern one, nearly a mile away. Engineer Mason became trapped in the cab. Fireman B. F. Mosby managed to crawl underneath ten flat cars and escaped the tunnel, only to die that night from burns he received from the steam of the locomotive. It is said it is undetermined how many actually perished in the tunnel. Today, one of the two sealed entrances is at the end of the former Richmond Cold Storage, now being rebuilt into apartments.
Besides the ghost stories connected to this horrible tragedy, is the legend of the Richmond Vampire that has the vampire as some strange creature that had dug its way out of the Church Hill train tunnel cave-in and was found over a victim, his mouth covered in blood. He had jagged teeth, plus decomposing skin hanging off his arms and legs. The creature took off and ran all then way to Hollywood Cemetery, followed by pursuers, where he hid in a crypt marked W.W. Poole. This is obviously an urban legend, with a basis in fact. The creature was in reality a fireman, Benjamin F. Mosby, burned almost beyond recognition. He had been rushed to Grace Hospital, dying 24 hours later. An interesting offshoot from this was the saying that going to Hollywood meant you were dying.
This vamp is not the only vampire connected with Virginia, when I wrote Haunted Virginia: Legends,Myths and True Tales. I discovered stories of bodies resurrected from their graves by grave robbers in Northern Virginia; one of them had two ridges around the wrist of each arm—speculation said vampire. Another story concerned Sir Thomas Lunsford had been accused of being a child eater back in England. Of course, when he came to the New Country, he lived a quiet life until his death in Port Royal. The last vampire I believed was real—as a serial killer. A European named Rupp moved to Big Stone Gap in the 1890s. It was determined he was killing and eating those who had disappeared by finding body parts in his cabin. He was never caught, but is said to haunt the area.
Whether real or made up, vampires stalk Virginia. Besides the cardinal as a state bird and dogwood as state flower and tree, maybe we need a state vampire? Don’t you think the Richmond Vampire would make a great candidate?