by Dave Yanko
We heard the stories about The St. Louis Ghost Train (read first). Now it was time to see for ourselves.
We had high hopes. But we really didn't expect to see anything
when we struck out for St. Louis around 10 p.m. on a Friday in December.
As we drove along the highway on the moonlit night, my wife set
the mood by using a flashlight to read the kids a short story about
the ghost train. We aimed to make the evening an event, regardless
of the outcome. Plenty of goodies and hot chocolate would help us
bide our time at the old railroad crossing.
The gravel road that leads to the former railway track is unmarked
and difficult to find following spoken directions. Three courteous
men at Emile Lussier's hotel led us to the spot, located approximately
eight kilometres (five miles) north of town, at about 12:30 a.m.
We parked on the side of the gravel road, facing west, and we looked
south along the ditch beside the old track bed. For half an hour,
we saw nothing but a group of teenagers milling about two vehicles
parked in front of us.
As they left, we immediately pulled onto the path that runs parallel
to the tracks. We travelled in a southward direction for perhaps
200 metres (215 yards) when my wife asked: "What's that?"
Sure enough, there was a dim light ahead of us in the distance.
I stopped the car, turned off the lights, and we watched as the
light got brighter and moved slowly from left to right before us.
I think we were more excited than frightened, although the kids
would later refuse to get out of the car for a better view.
Over a period of about an hour, the light made a series of appearances
about every 15 minutes. It came into view, grew brighter, moved
slowly to our right, and then it faded out. Each sighting was 30
seconds to a minute in length, followed shortly thereafter by one
or two similar episodes. We'd then wait about 15 minutes before
the next series began.
The light did not seem as bright as a train light. But I've never
seen the light of a steam locomotive. At no time did I notice a
beam emanating from it, however, it did appear to be coming in our
direction. Several times while the light was present, my wife and
I thought we saw a flickering of light on the bank of the old track
bed beside us. But that may well have been stimulated imaginations
at work, or just clouds moving past the bright moon.
Through binoculars, it looked like a single light with a yellow
hue. We agreed it did not resemble automobile lights. I can't offer
a good estimate of how far away it was. Without knowing the source,
that's difficult. But a really rough guess would put it no closer
than 500 metres (540 yards).
What was it? We don't know.
But we had fun seeing for ourselves the phenomenon known as The
St. Louis Ghost Train. We plan to return to the old track bed on
a moonless night.
A couple of years after we posted our two ghost train stories, two northern Saskatchewan girls came up with a compelling theory on the source of the lights. Check out Mystery Solved?, but I recommend reading The St. Louis Ghost Train first -- ed.