HAUNTED COLUMBUS SERIES: 1915 Circus Train Crash

A tragedy that occurred more than 100 years ago near Columbus is said to haunt Columbus to this day.
COLUMBUS, GA: Nearly 104 years ago in an area just 6.5 miles east of Columbus in what is now Macon Road near the Georgia Department of Drivers Services office a mass tragedy occurred which is one of the worst in the history of Columbus. While many lives were lost at the location some believe that the spirits of some of those lost that tragic day still roam parts of the city to this day and are active at one special event in Columbus this time of year.

On November 22, 1915, the Con. T. Kennedy Circus Train departed Macon, Georgia heading for its next show in Columbus, Georgia. The small train that was made up of wooden cars carried people and animals as it traveled to Columbus. However, just east of Columbus near Bull Creek the small train was struck by a passenger train that had left a nearby station too early.

The two trains collided head-on just 6.5 miles east of Columbus. The impact resulted in no deaths aboard the passenger train but some injuries were reported as passengers were tossed around. The results of the circus train were much different. The wooden train could not withstand the impact with the larger metal train and the cars were heavily damaged and thrown into the engine. The train burst into flames killing an unknown number of people and animals.

The exact number of victims from the circus train crash is unknown but is estimated to be around a dozen people. The bodies of both people and animals were incinerated to the point of only ashes remaining. The ashes were gathered and buried at a mass grave located at Riverdale Cemetery near Victory Drive in Columbus.

The mystery of the crash began almost immediately with the discovery of one deceased victim. One of the victims in the crash was thought to be a man but later identified as a woman. The odd thing is that no one was able to identify the victim as she was not supposed to be on the train. Some believe that the female victim was actually performing in the circus disguised as a male.

Despite the mystery of the woman found in the crash later stories have surfaced about strange occurrences related to the crash and its victims. Riverdale Cemetery, the location of the mass grave is located directly across from South Commons in Columbus. Each October the parking lot of South Commons becomes fills with life as the annual fair arrives in Columbus. Some spooky tales have been reported around the fair and some believe these are ghosts lingering from the circus train crash of 1915.

While many at the fair are not aware of the tragedy of the circus train crash some have reported seeing some strange things at the fair. Those strange occurrences have included some reporting seeing a male and female in older style clothing appearing and riding in an empty car on the Ferris Wheel.

Some have reported seeing a man in older style clothing walking among fairgoers. One creepy report tells of a small boy asking for a nickel to ride the train at the fair. Obviously, we all know you can't purchase anything for a nickel at the fair. Are the ghosts of the circus train crash making their way to the nearby fair from the mass grave? Some believe so while many at the fair just go about their business and notice nothing.

Another strange tale happens near the location of the crash just off of Macon Road in Columbus. Some have reported seeing a strange floating torso near Bull Creek. The headless and limbless ghost is said to wander the area near where the crash occurred.

While many have gone to the fair for many years and noticed nothing out of the ordinary the tales of spooky sightings at the fair and near the tragic location of one of the worst disasters in Columbus history are still present. So as you embark on the fair this year, which is presently going on at South Commons take a look around because something strange may be lingering just inches away from you.