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Transportation History

Ghost Tracks

Surprising Stories of the Supernatural on Rails

by (author) Jay Underwood

DC Books
Initial publish date
Mar 2009
History, General, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2009
    List Price

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Readers will discover why railway men fear the number nine! ... why a white horse is considered an ill omen ... and why, in a profession where safety was a priority, often the supernatural was the only way to explain why accidents happened. Some of these episodes, which have now become folklore, can be explained as figments of imagination or mischief, like the supposed curse that haunts the bridges over Halifax Harbour. Others -- like the 'hoodoo' on Intercolonial Railway locomotive No. 239 -- cannot be explained away so easily, and readers will be left to make their own determination. Few of these stories have been told before, and never in such detail as Underwood probes the individuals involved, the events as they unfolded, and the popular superstitions of the era, to explain why such stories existed. The locomotive was to the citizens of the 1800s and early 20th Century what the computer is to people today -- a symbol of the rapid and often impersonal advance of science and technology -- and ghost stories may exist simply to give some substance to the belief that higher powers are at work! These 'ghosties and beasties' range from the monster that shook the occupants of a boxcar on a remote siding, to the lonely mother who sought the body of her dead son on the shores of Cape Breton Island; to visits from the Devil in New Glasgow and the spectre of death on 'long black trains.'

About the author

Jay Underwood is a graduate of the journalism program of Holland College of Applied Arts and Technology in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Jay began his career in newspapers as a nightshift proof reader and obituary writer with the Charlottetown Guardian-Patriot. He then moved to the New Glasgow, Nova Scotia Evening News, as a reporter-photographer, and to the Truro, Nova Scotia Daily News as city editor. Briefly serving as city editor at the Timmins, Ontario Daily Press, he returned to Nova Scotia as editor and publisher of the Springhill-Parrsboro Record, and the Enfield Weekly Press, before joining the staff of the Halifax Daily News as senior copy editor and a member of the editorial board. Disabled by complications of diabetes that took most of his sight in 1999, Jay focused on his love of history and railways, producing Ketchum's Folly in 1995, and Full Steam Ahead: The life and locomotives of Alexander Mitchell in 1996 (Lancelot Press), and, more recently, Built for War: Canada's Intercolonial Railway' (Railfare*DC Books) in 2005. Now in his third term as president of the Nova Scotia Railway Heritage Society, Jay and his colleagues were successful in preventing the historic 1905 vice-regal railway car Alexandra from being scrapped, and the car is now being relocated to a museum site at Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia for restoration and public display. The society is planning to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of main line railway operations in Nova Scotia in 2008, which will include the railway built by James Richardson Forman. He is a frequent contributor to Canadian Rail, the journal of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association, and has plans for other books in the near future. His work centres on topics not previously covered by conventional history texts. Jay lives in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia with his wife Kathy and son Derek. His oldest son, Andrew, is pursuing a career as a railway freight conductor with Canadian Pacific Railway.

Jay Underwood's profile page

Other titles by Jay Underwood