Animal Apparitions – The Railroad Panther
On occasion, animal apparitions are reported. For the most part, these otherworldly spectral species appear outdoors and are generally seen briefly before disappearing. Several young boys and train workmen witnessed one of these odd anomalies in 1889 near the railroad tracks between Fremont and Lincoln.
On a nightly basis, over the course of several days, a group of Lincoln boys reported seeing the ghostly form of a wild animal emerge from a grove of trees next to a set of railroad tracks. At approximately 8:15 p.m. each evening, as the passenger train from Fremont approached a point about two miles from Davey, the form appeared. The first person to come in contact with the ghost animal was a fireman. At first sight, he saw what he believed to be a man who had been run over and killed in the area sometime before. After getting a closer look, he saw a large cat-like creature. He voluntarily terminated his position with the railroad soon after. Another fireman and an engineer vouched for their frightened friend by saying they had also observed “the séance of this strange annex of the animal kingdom.” They claimed the beast sprung out of a concealed area near the tracks.
The Lincoln boys described the apparition in detail, claiming the form resembled that of an unusually large panther. At the sight of the incoming train, the animal seemed to become enraged by the “glaring lights, the flying sparks, and the roar and rattle of the monstrous engine with its accompaniment of cars.” The train seemed to make the panther go into a rabid-like state, evoking the beast to spring out of the thicket as if attacking unsuspecting prey. The panther exposed two rows of large white teeth. Its ears laid atop a broad, flat head like that of a snake, and its long, slender tail swayed back and forth. As the train approached, the panther seemed to rise and appeared to double in size. Most notably, the cat’s eyes glared brightly like balls of fire.
The apparition appeared for several days. Occasionally, the panther would simply remain crouched down in the grass as the train flew by. At other times the ghost was delayed, springing from the spot just as the last car sped by.
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