Old and abandoned, the Welland Canal’s Lock 18 passes above a notorious Niagara haunt. Historically called the Merritton Train Tunnel, the 140 year old structure now known as the “Blue Ghost Tunnel”.
Completed in 1876. Converted to occasional use in 1887. Closed in 1915. How did something so lightly used gain such a reputation?
Spooky Tunnels of Niagara
The Screaming Tunnel was a springboard in a region known for tunnels. The railway and Welland Canal created a need. A dark void peering into darkness surrounded by curving stone walls. Echoing your voice and trapping you in. So scary.
Combined with dark history and the Blue Ghost Tunnel is hard to ignore.
Welland Canal – –
St. Catharine’s boat river highway between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie was championed in 1824 by William Hamilton Merritt.
The once lord of the haunted Merritt House led an ambitious project before modern technology. Filled with danger. Accidents, suicide, sabotage and foul play. The Merritton Tunnel (Blue Ghost Tunnel) was a strategic passageway meant as a temporary fix.
Maybe lack of use is to blame. Then in 1903, tragedy struck…
From The St. Catharines Standard newspaper on Sat Jan 3, 1903 – –
(edited for space & understanding)
BAD TRAIN WRECK
No.4 Express Collides with a light Mogul Near Merritton Tunnel. On the Grand Trunk line near Merritton, a fatal accident occurred today at around 7:03am. Engine Number 975 left Niagara Falls at 6:00am and was set to run through Hamilton. The Engine Number 4 express train was scheduled for Merritton at 6:28am.
As nearly as can be learned, it was 7:03 am when the express train passed a telegraph station near the tunnel, a few moments later Engine 4 and Engine 975 met with a terrible crash.
Both engines in full steam at 22 miles per hour.
The Engineers escaped with only broken limbs and minor cuts to face and arms.
Sadly, Mr. Charles Horning, fireman of Engine 4, was killed instantly.
The reporter described his body as “being jammed in the boiler and mangled”. When rescuers tried to free Horning’s body, pulling on his limbs broke them off.
Some remains were taken away. His mid-section was so wedged it could not be freed. Rescuers noted that his wrist watch was still working.
Abraham Desult, fireman from Engine 975 smashed into the boiler of his train receiving burns to 90% of his body. Desult was rushed to the St. Catharines General where he died 5 hours later.
Where the Name Came From
Years before the Ghost Walks began, a paranormal investigator named Russ made his way to the Merritton Tunnel. He was given directions to the Screaming Tunnel, but got lost. Somehow stumbled on a pathway past the abandoned canal lock. Down the hill and around to a gravel lined entrance.
He’d return many times to investigate and take photos.
During one visit he captured a ghost photos. A mist floating at the entrance to the tunnel, shaped like a person, and in a slight shade of blue. This gave Russ inspiration for the now famous name, “Blue Ghost Tunnel”. It stuck along with its growing reputation.
Daniel (founder of The Ghost Walks) was part of multiple investigations with friends, psychics and other paranormal teams.
The Findings – –
The teams knew about the train crash, blue mist and reports of a ghost dog at the tunnel’s entrance. This was intriguing but the tunnel’s atmosphere really drew them in.
“Most nights focused on subtle changes in temperature and atmosphere. We used EMF detectors and psychic impression. Hours and hours of little results.“One night was more active than the rest, when a thunderstorm rolled in. Great backdrop for a ghost hunt. Energy was stirred up and the machines spiked.
“Few hours later and we’re leaving. I look to the entrance (about 20 feet away) and see movement. I squinted, strained. It looked like an animal, size and shape of a dog.
“I ran towards it, watching my head as the beams were low. Finally got to the entrance to find nothing.
“At the same time a crack of lightning. I’m man enough to admit jumping. Thankfully I didn’t scream.”
Reports off of our Facebook Fan Page. Show the common experience of drained batteries…
From Willow P
From Leslie S
“Didn’t get a chance to go all the way in. There were 14 of us all but 1 flashlight stopped working before we got in, and my brand new camera completely died and didn’t start working again until we got to a pizza place afterwards.
“We were also followed by little kids who tried to scare us. They kicked in our car doors and wrote on our windows”
Proves the car vandalism as well.
Shut down to the Public
Unlike the Screaming Tunnel, the Blue Ghost Tunnel is closed for the public. This is private property well guarded for liability reasons.
The empty canal lock is a big reason. No fences block off a dark path. Turn right for the tunnel. Turn left and you may fall 100 feet to your death.
For this reason, I understand the concerned owners.
On top we’ve received many reports of damaged cars, broken into and vandalized while you’re visiting the tunnel.
Is the Blue Ghost Tunnel haunted? – –
Who can say for sure? However, overall this location lacks results.
Of course there are photos, orbs, mists, ghost dogs, but a lack of energy. Truly haunted places have energy outside the Blue Ghost Tunnel being a scary looking place.
Also if you believe tragedy creates ghosts then it ranks low. One train accident with one death in over 140 years in a large space, and only 40 years of actual, part-time use.
I wish we could know more. Sadly many legitimate ghost hunters run for the hills when hearing about the dangers. It’s now a place for vandalism and partying.
Valued History – –
Every history lover should see The Merritton Tunnel. Once frozen in history, it’s now literally sinking into the ground.
NOTE : We would love to see historical hikes, during the daytime, with an experienced guide. To see the abandoned canal lock, a rusted out Ford Tempo sitting at the bottom (how did it get down there?!?). Then a calming stroll down the rocky hill, leading to sheer amazement of an open mouth into darkness.
To see a monument to Canadian engineering.
**Daniel of the Ghost Walks had a consultant role on the original Creepy Canada episode at the “Blue Ghost Tunnel”. Here are some pics from that night…