Thursday, April 27, 2017

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 327: Visit the 'haunted' railroad tracks in Coy, Ala.

Wilcox County Road 13 railroad crossing.
Are the railroad tracks at Coy haunted?

Depending on who you ask, stories about the haunted railroad crossing at Coy vary, but sources say that a group of children died in a tragic bus accident there in the 1950s. Now, the story goes, if you visit the crossing late at night, you can hear the sounds of children playing and laughing on the tracks.
Others say that if you visit the crossing late at night or early in the morning, you can actually see the ghosts of children playing at the railroad crossing.

When I first heard this tale, I presumed that it was referring to the crossing where the Alabama & Gulf Coast Railway crosses County Road 12 in Coy, near the post office. However, when I asked around, I learned that the story actually refers to the railroad crossing a short distance southeast on County Road 13.

The weather on Sat., April 8, was bright and clear, so I decided to investigate this story for myself. I’d been to the railroad crossing near the Coy post office many times before, but I couldn’t honestly say that I’d ever been to the crossing on County Road 13. With that in mind, I traveled the lonely country backroads to that crossing, drove over the tracks and parked on the side of the road, about 50 yards south of the crossing.

I got out of the truck, shut the door and stood there for what seemed like a long time, listening. The place was deserted. No one was around. There wasn’t another vehicle in sight.

I have a healthy respect for trains and railroad tracks, so I approached the crossing on foot with more than the usual amount of caution. As I stood there, taking a long look up and down the tracks, I was again struck by the eerie silence of the place. Not even the birds or insects were stirring.

I crossed to the other side of the road and just as I was about to return to my truck, an unexpected noise struck my ears. Had I just heard a child laughing? Despite the warm afternoon sun, the back of my neck broke out in gooseflesh as I froze in my tracks.

Suddenly and without warning, I heard it again. This time, my head snapped in the direction of the sound, and my eyes met with something that I’d missed in my first look around. In the dim shadows on the south side of the road, I could make out where the railroad tracks crossed a short wooden bridge.

At first glance, I’d missed it, but when I took a few more steps in that direction, I could see that the small rail bridge crossed over a stream or creek that flows off into the dark woods and out of sight. Surely the sound that I’d mistaken for laughter had been nothing more than the sound of water chuckling beneath the bridge.

A few minutes later, back in my truck, I checked my trusty, dogeared copy of the “Alabama Atlas & Gazetteer” and saw on Page 50 where the creek or stream that flows near the railroad crossing eventually flows into McCalls Creek, which empties into the Alabama River near Backers Landing in Monroe County.

On the way home, I wondered if the sound of the water flowing beneath the bridge could be the root of the stories about the haunted railroad tracks at Coy. Had people over the years simply mistaken that sound for the sound of laughing children? I suppose it’s hard to say for sure, but one thing’s for certain: The railroad crossing at County Road 13 is an unusually spooky place and is probably even more so in the dead of night.

In the end, I’d like to hear from anyone with more information about the haunted railroad tracks at Coy, especially anyone who has seen or heard anything out of the ordinary there. I’d also like to hear from anyone with any information about the bus accident that supposedly took place there in the 1950s.

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