Ghosts of the Railroad House
This story originally appeared in Paranormal Pennsylvania Issue No. 1 July 2002
On the corners of Front and Perry Streets in Marietta sits a magnificent building known as the Railroad House. Built in 1820, it opened as a boarding house and served as a hotel for the canal and river trades and later the railroad.
Through the years it has had several owners and names. From the Depot House, Railroad Hotel, Mrs. Bells’ boarding house in the 1940's to the present Railroad House.
The building has survived the ravages of time from two major floods in 1932 and 1976 which caused much damage, and from squatters who resided within its walls as the building stood vacant for a number of years.
Many travelers passed through its doors as it was a stopover for passengers as well as a waiting station and ticketing office till the Marietta Station was built across the street in 1860.
One of the more famous travelers was actress and activist Jane Fonda who made an appearance in 1972 to protest the Vietnam War as the Railroad House was then used as a psychedelic coffee house.
And one of its more famous owners was reported to be a Colonel Thomas Scott who was said to be the President of the Pennsylvania Railroad from 1874 to 1880.
The current owners, Richard and Donna Chambers bought the Railroad House in 1989. They had a dream that they could turn the old hotel into a beautiful Victorian restaurant and bed and breakfast. That dream became a reality.
Today the Railroad House is a busy place that serves good food and spirits. From Murder Mystery weekends to Tea Parties, the Railroad House has something for everyone. Many guests have come to dine and spend the night in one of the twelve lovely bed and breakfast rooms. Reportedly some guests have never left. It is said that a former owner and former guests are among the “living dead” who still reside in the Railroad House.
Thomas Scott was said to be a former owner of the Railroad House and the President of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The railroad reported that Scott had died in 1881. But when owners Richard and Donna Chambers were renovating, they found an invoice for a keg of beer and a case of wine dated May 17, 1900 and signed by Thomas Scott. How can this be if he had died in 1881?
Guests staying in room six have heard the unexplainable sounds of banging coming from within its walls. It is reported that someone supposedly shot themselves in room six but not much is known about it.
Sounds of a typewriter have been heard from another room where there was no typewriter.
Although the owners have not seen any ghosts, they have heard unaccountable sounds when alone, such as disembodied footsteps.
One waitress, while going down in the basement to retrieve something, saw a man sitting at the bar and as she passed by, he spoke to her saying “hello” when she turned to reply he had simply vanished.
Jean Adams, an employee of the Railroad House, recalls a night she spent alone in one of the rooms.
While lying in bed she felt the presence of someone getting in bed with her. She didn’t feel frightened or threatened, but it did feel a little uncomfortable and uneasy. She thought she heard a voice in her head say “move over, you’re taking up all the room”. She quickly moved over and said a short time later the feeling had left.
An employee arriving early one morning to prep some food decided to take a short nap upstairs in the TV room. She heard the door open and felt an unseen presence as if watching her.
A former chef came out of the kitchen and noticed in the mirror which hangs over the bar not only his reflection but that of a little girl in Victorian dress. The startled chef quickly turned around only to find her gone. On another occasion the chef was walking past the stairway which leads to the second floor when again in the corner of his eye he saw the same little girl. A second look revealed an empty staircase.
These restless spirits not only reside in the Railroad House but outside as well.
The summer kitchen now known as the cottage is one of the rooms that guests can stay in. A spiral staircase leads up to a one-bedroom loft. The cottage also has its own refrigerator but no rocking chair.
Two years ago a husband and wife were staying in the cottage when the woman woke up to see an elderly lady sitting in a rocking chair and knitting. Trying to wake up her sleeping husband she turned to see the figure had simply disappeared.
She reported what she had seen to the owner when she checked out the next day and Donna didn’t think much about it till months later when another couple had stayed in the cottage. Again a woman had awoke to the sight of an elderly lady sitting in a rocking chair knitting. She attempted to wake her husband and as he awoke nothing was there, nobody knitting and no rocking chair.
The garden at the Railroad House is still tended by Anne Marie who died at the turn of the century. Anne Marie lived next door to the Railroad House. It was her job to tend the garden to make sure there was always a fresh bounty to feed the travelers. She would talk to all the men passing through; her wish was to marry a rich man who would take care of her. She died before that wish was fulfilled, it is for that reason she only appears to single men.
Male employees of the Railroad House have seen her and single men sitting outside in the Biergarten, whether drinking too many spirits and seeing spirits have sworn they have seen a lady in Victorian dress and wide brimmed hat working in the garden. Although she hasn’t been seen recently, there is only one account of a female sensing her presence.
Perhaps we will never be able to explain the strange sounds that have been heard or the ghostly image that have been seen but as the Railroad House has survived in history and time, so do the Ghosts of the Railroad House.