On October 2, 1925 C&O locomotive #231, operated by engineer, Tom Mason, was heading into Richmond to pass through Church Hill Tunnel. The tunnel was a small low-traffic route that was getting worked on. Like most days the tunnel was full of crew working on the tunnel in order to make in larger. Engineer Mason was pulling through ten empty flatcar units for the crew to haul debris and excavated earth back out of the tunnel. Mason got the locomotive positioned under Richmond’s Broad Street, deep into the tunnel underground, and continued traveling from east to west toward the western opening of the tunnel and stopped, as planned, about 80 feet from the west end of the tunnel. He stopped here so that the workmen could use the flatcars.
Once the flatbeds were full, Mason began to direct the locomotive slowly underground to the western portal of the tunnel. But as the 231 passed beneath 20th Street, a few interior bricks in the tunnel suddenly fell loose. These bricks were from the old part of the tunnel roof, and while most of them didn’t do much damage, others crashed down and broke connections for the underground lighting system. The tunnel was then plunged into darkness – four thousand feet of pitch black darkness.
The crewmen that were near the east entrance fled toward the east portal and the carpenters who escaped reported later that right after the tunnel lights went out they felt a sudden eerie gust of wind. Mason’s fireman, Benjamin F. Mosby yelled to Mason, “Watch out, Tom! She’s a-comin’ in!”
But it was too late…
A hundred feet of tunnel debris came crashing down upon locomotive #231, engulfing the train and trapping Mason where he stood “at the throttle.”
One man emerged from the crashed-in tunnel:
“Shortly after the collapse of the tunnel, a man-like form came out of the tunnel. Covered in blood – with jagged teeth visible and with flesh hanging from its body, this figure, barely recognizable as a human person – raced toward the James River…people tried to chase after the figure but it quickly took refuge in and disappeared into Hollywood Cemetery. It disappeared at the point where a mausoleum is located on the cemetery grounds.
The creature vanished where the mausoleum is built into the hillside of Hollywood Cemetery. The name displayed in that location is that of W.W. Pool.”
That’s the tale of The Richmond Vampire. What makes this is a vampire story is beyond me, maybe it’s the blood and the cemetery. Either way, this is Richmond, Virginia’s famous vampire urban legend.