You’ve got your sleeping bag and your rucksack is packed with a torch, some matches and some warm clothes. You think you’ve got everything you need for your camping trip of a lifetime in the USA, but there’s one thing you’ve forgotten: a really scary ghost story!
When you’re on holidays for singles in the American wilderness, nothing breaks the ice like the obligatory spooky tale to tell hushed listeners around a crackling fire.
But if the scariest thing you can think of is the time your little brother jumped out on you as you made a late night trip to the bathroom, you might be laughed all the way back to the UK.
So to help you enthral, rather than appal, your fellow travellers, here’s a couple of really scary bits of American folklore for your story-telling arsenal.
A particularly apt tale for those visiting the north-west of the country, this West Virginia ghost story tells the sad tale of Jenny, a poor woman who lived in some old storage sheds that had been abandoned shortly after the Baltimore and Ohio railroad was built.
One day, Jenny was eating some broth by the fire when a spark set her dress alight. As the flames took hold, Jenny ran up the tracks towards the Harpers Ferry Station in the hope that someone there might douse the fire.
But as she screamed her way along the railroad, she failed to spot an oncoming train and was knocked down. The train driver slammed on the brakes and ran back along the tracks to where she lay. He then picked her up and took her back to town, where she was buried in a pauper’s grave and forgotten.
Forgotten until the anniversary of her death that is, when another train rounding the bend was confronted by the sight of a burning woman. As before, the driver stopped the train and ran back to check on the woman but this time there was no one there – he had seen the ghost of Screaming Jenny.
If you’re camping out in the woods, this story will certainly get your fellow travellers looking over their shoulders! Just make sure you don’t give yourself nightmares too, as you’ll want to get plenty of sleep so that you have the energy for the next day’s adventures.
This next tale concerns the disappearance of young girls from a rural Pennsylvanian village.
The townsfolk all suspected an old, haggard woman called Mary, who lived deep in the woods. And they became even more suspicious when her appearance began to become more youthful, but they could find no proof she had taken the girls.
That all changed one fateful night when the miller’s wife saw her daughter walking out the house in the middle of the night, as if in a trance. The villagers followed her and realised she was heading towards a bright light in the woods – it was Mary, who needed the girl’s young blood to retain her youthful looks.
But a farmer shot at Mary and she fell to the ground. Angry residents then surrounded her and tied her to a stake, where she was burned. As she perished, Mary screamed a terrible curse. Anyone foolish to say Bloody Mary into a mirror would get trapped within it, forever burning in torment.
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