The Boxcar Boogey
Updated: Jul 14, 2021
Railroad workers in Lincoln, Nebraska nearly went on strike in 1910, after the apparition of a headless woman appeared in the railyard. Over the course of four consecutive nights, the ghost described as having a ghastly appearance, emerged shortly before 1:00 a.m. from an old boxcar. From the open doorway of the boxcar, which sat near the oil house, the ghost appeared headless and dressed in a translucent white drapery material that flowed as she moved. After floating through the open doorway, she seemed to glide across the ground before disappearing.
Many workers voiced their concerns over the otherworldly occurrence. The event created such unease amongst the railroad staff, some even threatened ending employment over the matter if the true cause of the apparition was not unveiled. Refusing to ever work in the neighborhood again.
Appearing at the same time each day in the early morning hours, allowed word to spread around town, attracting curiosity seekers from all over Lincoln. On the Saturday following her first appearance, 50 locals joined 150 laborers who worked nightshift hours, to witness the phenomenon.
Some of the workers who initially scoffed at the idea later admitted to seeing the ghost. One man, a 52-year-old engineer, who outspokenly declared the rumors nothing more than superstitious tales, was seen in the middle of the crowd holding a heavy monkey wrench for protection as everyone congregated around the boxcar after midnight. At ten minutes to 1:00 a.m., a murmur spread through the crowd, stirring a commotion among all in attendance as the pale headless figure appeared. The engineer pushed forward with his wrench in hand. Before reaching the car, however, he suddenly stopped and turned around. His pale face was petrified and he was shaking with fright as he said, “Boys, I’ve lived fifty-two years and never seen a ghost ‘til now.”
Upon seeing the ghost firsthand, locals conjured up several theories as to the identity of the headless female phantom. Some believed she was the ghost of a woman who had been murdered inside the same boxcar in which she haunted. Others thought the boxcar had previously been used to conceal the headless corpse of a murdered woman. A hoax was also considered, believed to be either put on by the railroad workers to get a rise out of the locals or from young pranksters who managed to successfully convince all in attendance that a white-sheet clad teenager was sufficient evidence of a ghost. Local police on the scene at the time believed the ghost was a result of active imaginations mixed with physical influences such as a light cast from a distant street car or headlights on an engine.
The following day, the boxcar was moved to another location in the railyard. Another large crowd converged that evening just after midnight. After waiting several minutes beyond her known time of appearing without any results, the crowd dispersed. Excitement faded after Sunday night’s disappointment and according to reports from the workers, the ghost was never seen again.
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All photos courtesy of Sarah Stream Photography
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