October 2 1925 is a day that will live in infamy, the collapse of a railway tunnel near Church Hill has spawned a gory urban legend that endures to this day.
The railway tunnel had been previously closed but was re-opened by the Chesopeake and Ohio Railroad in an attempt to widen as the economy had demanded additional venues of moving freight. Over 200 men died within the collapse, the train is still entombed within the rubble of the tunnel though it is said that only the conductor was exhumed, the remainder of the bodies were never found or recovered by rescue teams.
The details of what happened after the collapse are a bit chaotic, just as I’m sure the scene would have been. At this time Richmond was a small town, the loss of 200 men would prove devastating. Witnesses from the ghastly scene reported that a creature emerged from the remains. The “creature” was in the form of a man; his face was badly disfigured, he had jagged teeth and flesh hung freely from his body. The creature fled the scene and was said to have entered a tomb in the nearby Hollywood Cemetery that bore the name of William Waltham Pool who had died in 1922. Some reports state that the creature had been known as Benjamin F. Mosby who was reportedly taken to Grace hospital where he would later succumb to his injuries. Rescue workers that were on scene tell a different version of the story.
Having no equipment at their disposal, the rescuers dug into the tunnel with their bare hands. One such group of workers dug into the western-most mouth of the tunnel. They stumbled through the darkness to discover the form of a man crouched over one of the few recovered victims. Obviously not one of the railway workers as his face and clothing were clean and he appeared unscathed with the exception of the blood that ran from his mouth. The man stood and looked towards the rescue team as he wiped the blood from his face; the men were terrified as they saw that the man had fangs protruding from his mouth. In a panic the creature sped past the rescue workers who in turn gave chase. It is said that this is the creature that fled into the tomb of William Pool. The team, reaching the entrance to the tomb directly behind the creature found that the door that the vampire had disappeared through had been locked. The men made several attempts to break through the door but to no avail. A plea to the cemetery management to open the tomb was denied on the spot. The team had lost all hope of capturing the so titled “Richmond Vampire”.
The tomb had become quite the attraction, so many attempts had been made to enter the tomb that additional locks and security measures were called for. In 2005 an interesting story was published in an online interview with Mr. Donald Toney, longtime grounds foreman of the Hollywood Cemetery. Toney reported that the tomb is still frequented by vampire enthusiasts from abroad but that the tomb had never been breached by intruders. Toney went further to say that upon occasion he had discovered broken wine glasses within the tomb, though the locks had not been tampered with.
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