The Ghost of Allatoona Pass - Bartow County, Georgia
|Ghost of Allatoona Pass
The ghost haunted trains making their way through
the Allatoona Pass area during the years after the
Civil War and was widely reported at the time.
Ghost at Allatoona Pass?
A misty orb shows up in broad
daylight in this photo taken in the
Eastern Redoubt at Allatoona Pass.
Is it a light effect or something more?
Allatoona in the 19th Century
The ghost appeared or disappeared
as trains reached Allatoona Pass,
seen here in the 19th century. The
sightings attracted great attention.
THE GHOST OF ALLATOONA PASS
Bartow County, Georgia
19th Century Railroad Haunting
|Copyright 2011 & 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: October 15, 2014
Allatoona Pass Today
Thousands of men fell dead and
wounded during the fighting here.
Was the ghost a lost soldier from
One of Georgia's more intriguing ghost
stories involves trains that passed along the
Western & Atlantic Railroad during the years
after the Civil War.
As their steam powered trains came and
went between Tilton, a crossing near Dalton,
and Allatoona Pass, employees of the W&A
often noticed a mysterious figure riding along
atop the cars:
...For some months, railroaders – conductors,
enginers and brakemen – have been
noticing, between Tilton and Alatoona, that
when their respective freight trains would
enter on to that portion of the track named,
that their number would be reinforced by an
extra train hand, who of course the officers of
the W. and A. Railroad cannot persuade to
sign the “death warrant.” - Atlanta Journal, Dec. 1872
In other words, the railroad employees found
themselves dealing with a ghost. And not just
on an occasional basis!
The appearance of the spectre was a bit
unnerving, but the railroad men of that day
had just come through the Civil War and had
seen horrors on the battlefield that reduced
the impact of a mere shadow figure. In fact,
so unconcerned were they about their ghostly
visitor that from time to time they even tried to
collect a fare from him:
...This individual appears suddenly on top of
the freight cars, takes a seat and remains
there for many miles, then the unknown
brakesman disappears. Conductors, seeing
him, have often gone out to collect his fare,
but on nearing him, he would vanish like
mist. - Atlanta Journal, Dec. 1872.
The ghost often appeared as northbound
trains left the Deep Cut at Allatoona or
disappeared as southbound trains reached
that point. This prompted some to wonder
whether he was the spirit of a soldier killed in
the Battle of Allatoona Pass, perhaps one
who had worked on the railroad before the
This bewilderment over the identity of the
ghost finally led a bold engineer to try to
obtain an answer to the question in person:
...One night, an engineer, on a freight train,
plainly saw the ghostly brakesman, seated
on top of the third car from his engine, he
determined to settle the vexed question as to
who he was, and accordingly, left his engine
in charge of the fireman, and proceeded at
once towards the mysterious object. - Atlanta
Journal, Dec. 1872.
The 19th Century ghost hunt produced
results, but not those hoped for by the brave
...The engineer approached cautiously, with
both eyes fixed on the form of the man, but
as he neared his ghostship, he gradually
faded from view, leaving the engineer
completely bewildered, but who still tried to
unravel...his disappearance by passing over
the entire train and looking in every place,
which was capable of concealing a man, but
nowhere was the man visible. - Atlanta Journal, Dec.
The ghost, however, was not done with the
...The engineer turned round in despair, and
as he cast his eye toward his engine, which
was swift in speed, there sat the object of his
search, unterrified and full of life, on the same
identical spot where he first discovered him. -
Atlanta Journal, Dec. 1872.
Now even more determined, the engineer
walked back down the top of the train. Once
again, however, the ghost disappeared as he
...The engineer passed on to his engine, and
on looking back there sat, perched upon the
car box, the same unknown being, where he
remained until the train had left many miles
in the distance, then his ghostship
disappeared, and returned, probably, to
re-enact on the next passing train the same
scenes. - Atlanta Journal, Dec. 1872.
The ghost continued to appear for many
years and stories about him were widely told
along the route of the W&A. Newspapers
across the South picked up articles from
area papers about the ghost and he created
considerable speculation across the region.
Trains still run along the old W&A route,
although the tracks have long since been
rerouted from Allatoona Pass itself. The
Deep Cut where the trains once passed
through the Allatoona Mountains ridge is now
part of Allatoona Pass Battlefield, which is
open to the public.
The sound of the trains can be heard as they
pass nearby. Whether the ghostly rider still
sits atop the cars, no one can say.
Please click here to learn more about the
Battle of Allatoona Pass.
Tracks of the W&A
This Barnard photo was taken from
the top of the ridge at Allatoona
Pass shortly after the battle. The
tracks can be seen approaching the
Ghosts of the South