Iowa's Haunted Railroad



In 1877, an apparition of a "woman in white" appeared to several employees of the southwestern division of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, on a lonesome stretch of track between Perlee and Pleasant Plain in southeastern Iowa. This ghost, believed to be the spirit of a woman who was raped and later succumbed to her injuries, was said to appear whenever her tormenters were passengers on the line.

The following is an article which appeared in the August 31, 1877 edition of the Jefferson City (MO.) State Journal:

According to the Fairfield Ledger, the shape, whatever it may be, was seon on Wednesday night, of last week, by Engineer Moore, on train No. 9, between Perlee and Pleasant Plain. It was walking up the track toward the engine and the careful engineer, thinking it a thing of flesh and blood, actually whistled for brakes and almost brought his train to a standstill. Just as the form was within a few feet of him it disappeared.
He saw the face plainly, and supposed it either that of a lunatic or a somnambulist. On Thursday and Friday night it was seen at different places between the two towns by engineers Shaffer and Crw, who agree with Moore as to its description, manner of appearance, etc. Since its first visit the train men have been on the watch, determined to see what it is and how it gets there. They are too brave to be frightened by the apparition, even if it is an inhabitant of the spirit world, but still their curiosity gets away with them, and in their determination to ferret out the mystery they do stand a little in awe of the fragile form that gives them these mysterious visits.


The matter is a common topic of conversation among railroad men on the division. Three years ago a married woman was outraged in a terrible manner near the place where the white specter has been seen, receiving injuries which caused her death some three weeks after. Now there is a suspicion that one or two parties who know more about the affair than they have ever told take occasional business trips on the line, and that it is to trouble their conscience that the form appears.

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