The Bostian Bridge - Haunted Forever?

Last Updated 6/3/2024Posted in History, Events

August 27, 1891, 1:52am: Train #9 rushes past the Statesville train depot, running behind on it's journey towards Asheville. Three miles west and 8 minutes later,  the train begins to cross the Bostian Bridge at approximately 30mph, high above Third Creek, when something goes very wrong. The track separates and the train goes hurtling 70 feet into the creek below. It's a catastrophe. George Bowley and several other passengers find themselves unhurt and run back to Statesville to get help. Within hours, the community has been awakened and the bodies of the dead and injured were brought back to town. 

The final list of the dead was released with 22 souls confirmed dead and 30 or more wounded.  The clean up was massive and convicts were brought in for the horrific job. But WHY did this disaster occur? So many theories... Conspiracy? Vandalism? Neglect? The questions were mounting. Meanwhile, families are commuting to Statesville to recover the bodies of their loved ones, others are trying to find their ways back home. It was a very tragic time for Statesville.

Fast forward to August 27, 1941 - 50 years later to the minute...

Pat and Larry Hayes were headed from Columbia, SC to the NC mountains for vacation. It was late and Pat and the kids were sleeping while Larry drove. A tire blew. Larry pulled the car over and headed into town to get help, as it was around 2am. Of course, Pat was fully awake by now and wasn't really surprised to see the train coming across the bridge until she heard a horrible sound. She jumped out of the car and heard the screams from right below the Bostian Bridge. Then she saw the wreckage. She witnessed a man scanning the wreckage and looking at his watch... seemingly unaware of the carnage around him.

Moments later, she heard a car pull up and was relieved to see her husband and a stranger emerge from the car. Distraught, she yells at them to come see, but the wreckage was gone. The family waits until morning to go inquire about the tragedy at the local depot and were informed that there was no accident the night before. He paused, and then said, coincidentally, a tragic train wreck, the deadliest in NC history, occurred 50 years ago, almost to the minute... and then she heard about Hugh K. Lenster, the baggage master. He was very proud of his watch and on keeping the train on time. She fainted.

https://www.iredell.lib.nc.us/Blog.aspx?IID=144

Would you like more information on the Bostian Bridge, or any of Statesville's historic and haunted past? Check out the Haunted Statesville Ghost Tours, and hear this story and more about one of the oldest towns  in the state! Tours are guided by the Historic Sharpe House Players and never disappoint! Tours are led every fourth Saturday of the month. Get your tickets here.

Thank you to Steve Hill at The Statesville Historical Collection  for this amazing history. Steve is the master historian of Statesville and we are very thankful to him for sharing his knowledge with us to share with you. 

Statesville Historical Collection
 704-397-6959

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