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Butterworth Building in Seattle

The Butterworth building was one of the original mortuaries in Seattle. Built in 1903, thousands of bodies made their way through this building in the early twentieth century. On the ground level sits Kells Irish Pub. For years employees have reported ghostly happenings throughout the building. Jeff goes legend tripping on the fourth floor in search of what might be lurking.

Man Dies Legend Tripping In Train Accident

According to a WBTV report, on August 27th around 2:30 AM, a group of about a dozen people went legend tripping on a train trestle near Buffalo Shoals Road in Statesville, North Carolina. The group were looking for a ghost train that is said to pass through every August 27th. The legend is based on a real event: On August 27, 1891 around 2:00 AM, a train accident left twenty people dead after the train derailed off the bridge and fell to the creek below. For years people have reported that the train accident replays itself on the anniversary. Each year legend trippers make a pilgrimage to the site in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the ghost train, this year one legend tripper paid with his life.

According to the WBTV report, 29 year-old Christopher Kaiser was killed when he was struck by a real train that passed through around 2:30 AM. The dozen witnesses were on the trestle when they heard the train. All but Kaiser were able to get out of the way in time. According to the local Sherriff, the group believed the train they heard coming to be the ghost train and not a real one.

This is a tragic event, of course. We would hope that anyone would bring their common sense to any legend tripping outing. Precautions like checking train schedules or staying clear of the tracks would have saved a life on August 27, 2010. But the most interesting aspect of this story is that the death will not diminish this legend, nor deter future legend trippers from coming to this site. In fact, if anything this death will expand this legend and make it more popular.

WBTV called me for a comment on this legend the afternoon after the accident. In any legend tripping outing the legend tripper becomes part of the story. Just by being in the location we write ourselves into the narrative. But Christopher Kaiser has now become a permanent part of the legend. Passenger train No. 9 from 1891 has just claimed another victim more than a century after the accident. Next year I would anticipate legend trippers will be showing up in greater numbers to try and catch a glimpse of the ghost train, and perhaps the ghost of its latest victim.

Decades from now through the natural folklore process, perhaps the legend will evolve further. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day people claim a man was actually killed by the ghost train on the anniversary of the accident and not the Norfolk-Southern Railroad freighter that actually did take Kaiser’s life. Legends grow and evolve, but at their root is always a nugget of truth.

The element of danger, the supernatural connection, and the thrill of the trip will keep us hooked on legend tripping. This event is tragic, our condolences go out to Kaiser’s friends and families. He died legend tripping. And the Ghost Train of Statesville will keep rolling on.

Richard Hertz from Holden, Massachusetts

Holden, MassachusettsIn the annals of phone-prank history, few names are as renowned as “Richard Hertz.”

10-year-old phone prankster calling local tavern: “Yes, can you please see if Mr. Hertz is there? First name, Dick.”

Unsuspecting barkeep: “Yeah, hold on a minute… Hey everybody… is Dick Hertz here? Dick Hertz?!”

Hilarity ensues and the angry barkeep slams the phone down. When one can combine an inherently funny name with a real and ironic-sounding location, you have what we in the business call “comedic gold.”

Person at a party: “So… You’re Dick Hertz from Holden?”

Dick Hertz from Holden: “Yes.”

Over the last few decades, Dick Hertz from Holden has taken on legendary (albeit urban legend) proportions with people claiming that their friend went to college with Mr. Hertz from Holden, that their cousin used to date Hertz, their friend-of-a-friend knows Richard, and on and on. Our crack team of legend researchers wanted to settle this important debate, so we checked into it. The United States has been keeping census records since 1790, and the details of those records can be searched all the way up to 1930 (because of a federal privacy law, only records older than 70 years may be searched). Though several records for “Richard Hertz” turned up in some other Worcester County towns, there were none in Holden for the time period between 1790 and 1930. Further, Directory Information can confirm that there is no Richard Hertz currently living in the town of Holden. And a scan of Massachusetts Motor Vehicle records can confirm that no Richard Hertz has lived in Holden for as far back as their records go.

Conclusion: Dick Hertz—not from Holden.