I grew up on a “haunted” racehorse farm close to the border of Vineyard and Orem. Trains would run north and south along the tracks exactly west of the farm. These trains ran past a bar that was literally “on the other side of the tracks,” and just a stone’s throw away from my farm. I believe the bar was called Danna and Shirley’s Hitching Post. Many of my nights were spent watching the late night barfolk battle it out in drunken free-for-alls in front of this bar. It was a very intimidating place.
Bear in mind that this is from the memory of a ten-year-old me. One day, during the summer of 1988, I was playing in the field with my dogs when I stumbled upon two old ragged and scraggly men sleeping beneath the shade in a grove of Russian olive trees.
At first I thought the men were dead, until one of them sat up and spoke. “Hey there!” he said. They obviously weren’t dead, but they were old, dressed in torn denim and flannel, and each of them had a long white beard. Apparently these men, “hobos” if you will, had been riding the trains that passed my farm and would hop off in this area once a year on their way to or from California. I forget their actual destination.
They’d get off and go over to the aforementioned bar, grab something to eat, get “tanked,” and then stumble over to the nearby field to sleep off the alcohol. That’s where I found them the morning after our first encounter. They were still a little hungover, but in good spirits, and seemingly happy to see me.
They invited me to sit with them and claimed that they were the “Last of The Hobos!” They began to tell me about some of their travels and adventures. Somehow, ghosts and folklore came up during our discussion and they told me about a “Phantom Train” that haunted the rails of Utah. They said it was an “old black steam engine that ran on magic” and that it only traveled at night. It was “two cars along with a caboose”―four cars total, including the engine―and it was covered with “shimmering lights like the stars in the sky that would fly off of it” as it traveled swiftly across the landscape. Obviously, I was fascinated at the prospect of a “phantom train” that could potentially travel past my home.
Over the years, I’ve looked for more info relating to this phantom train but could not find anything beyond random rumors.
I only met these gentlemen of the road twice, once in 1988, and again in 1990, and each time I listened to them before they continued on their way. I’m sure they have passed away by now. Perhaps they are passengers aboard the “phantom train.”
More stories by Danny B. Stewart HERE
Danny B Stewart is a Utah-based Folklorist and Traditions Bearer who specializes in all things spooky! He is also the owner and operator of “The Original Provo Ghost Tour.”