While writing Lost Towns of North Georgia and Underwater Ghost Towns of North Georgia, I came across a late 1800 Atlanta newspaper article about sightings of phantom soldiers on trains going through Allatoona Pass. I do not like to include myths and folklore in my books because I need evidence. I figured if the credible Atlanta newspaper could print this story, I could write about in my books. So, here is one of the very few ghost stories in my books:
The Haunting of Allatoona Pass
The night was soaked with an inky darkness just seven years after the Civil War as the steam engine powered through Allatoona Pass on its way north. Just as the engine entered the pass, the W&A Railroad conductor noticed a soldier sitting on the top of the car. He climbed up into the darkness to collect the fare. The conductor walked toward the figure. Steps away, it disappeared. The soldier had melted into the night.
The disconcerted conductor reported to the engineer, “He was dressed in a soldier’s uniform.” Leaving the engine in the fireman’s hands, the W&A engineer investigated. A thick layer of clouds covered the moon; the cool night left a mist in the air. Through the fog, the engineer saw a figure sitting on the top of the third car.
The engineer advanced on top of the train, his attention focused on the man sitting on his train. Sweat trickled down the engineer’s back. He locked eyes with the gray shadow man. As he neared the transparent figure, it faded and then disappeared. The engineer searched the entire train and looked everywhere someone might hide. He climbed back on the top of the train and there the man was, sitting again on top of the train.
This time, the engineer marched in a quick step toward the ghost, but it disappeared again. The engineer walked back to the engine of the speeding train. Before he descended, the engineer glanced over his shoulder to glimpse the soldier back in his place. Cold air caused the engineer to shiver before he returned to relieve his fireman. The conductor kept watch and reported that the mysterious figure remained on the train for a few more miles, and then he was gone.
Perhaps the specter was reenacting this scene on the southbound train about to go through Allatoona Pass. Ghost stories are just symptoms of what lies beneath the surface, what came before and what refuses to leave.
Allatoona Pass has a reputation. It’s haunted. The unnatural cut into the mountain was the pass for nineteenth-century trains. The untracked bed follows along a sinking shore that secrets the drowned town of Allatoona. Phantom seekers claim to hear the ghost train and see specter soldiers on board. Walking through the pass today, you often hear the ghostly sounds of the trains on the repositioned tracks and wonder if they might be from another time or a current train in the distance.
The pass and the lost town of Allatoona have every reason to be haunted. The Battle of Allatoona Pass—a forgotten battle won by fake news and in defense of some bread—destroyed the trackside town. This pointless battle made a few heroes but ruined a town that was later drowned and lost forever. Residual energy disturbs the pass and the shores of Lake Allatoona, but the scariest story began and ended on October 5, 1864.
Read more about the Battle of Allatoona Pass in my books: