Haunted houses are typically considered works of fiction by someone with an overactive imagination. But are such places more credible if the railroad designates it as haunted? The Reading & Columbia Railroad thought one such place was when they established an East Hempfield Township station stop as “Spook House.”
Just take a look at this 1863 R&C timetable.
The R&C was probably the only railroad in the country with a station stop named “Spook House.” The rail line was built in 1863 to connect the City of Reading to the Chesapeake Bay Region via the Susquehanna Tide Water Canal. It transported coal, iron ore, and general merchandise. During its heyday, the railroad expanded into Marietta and Lancaster and carried as many as ten passenger trains daily.
The Spook House sat a mile north of Landisville, along the tracks near the northern end of Spooky Nook Road. 19th-century residents of the area and some R&C train crews believed the abandoned house to be haunted.
By 1863, the thatched roof house had been vacant for many years, so little is known about its origin or owners. One story given for its possible haunting was that some sheep entered into the empty structure. Their bleating during the night night was interpreted by neighbors as the wailing of spirits, giving rise to the theory that the building was haunted.
Others were convinced the Spook House had nothing to do with Little Bo Peep’s lost sheep. The railroad utilized the Spook House as a watering stop for their steam engines. Engineers, who stopped their train there to load water, sometimes saw a mysterious figure in the stream flowing through a culvert by the Spook House.
The structure was torn down around 1899, with no signs left of it today. Only Spooky Nook Road remains to recall the legend.
Through the years, the railroad declined, and the last regularly scheduled passenger service was on November 5, 1950. It was abandoned in 1985.
Today, the section of the rail line that once went past the Spooky House is now part of the Lancaster Junction Recreation Trail. Lancaster County acquired the trail in 1987. It runs 2.25 miles between the hamlet of Lancaster Junction and Route 283. Haunted or not, Lancaster County’s “Spook House” station stop was likely a first and only in the United States.
Here is the approximate location of the Spook House station. GPS Coordinates: 40.110151, -76.413409. Click here for more information on accessing the Lancaster Junction Recreation Trail.
- The Reading and Columbia Railroad
- Herr House Happenings
- Sunday News 11 Jul 1971, Sun · Page 34
- Intelligencer Journal 21 Oct 1985, Mon · Page 12
- The Reading and Columbia Railroad
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1864 Map of East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, PA$24.99 – $25.98
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