Light a match at midnight to wake a spirit in Niagara-on-the-Lake tunnel

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Published October 27, 2023 at 3:19 pm

screaming tunnel niagara falls
The Screaming Tunnel has been identified as a Niagara Falls legend even though maps show it being just off Warner Rd. in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

While it is identified as the Niagara Falls’ Screaming Tunnel, a cursory look on any map shows it located just off Warner Rd. in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Fairly close to the border between the two, the legend behind the Screaming Tunnel has little to do with boundaries and everything to do with being spooky as this iconic landmark, shrouded in mystery and local lore, offers a fascinating yet haunting adventure for thrill-seekers.

Locals say the Screaming Tunnel is no ordinary passageway. This eerie 125-foot-long (38 metres) tunnel was constructed in the early 1800s, primarily serving as a drainage tunnel for the Grand Trunk Railway.

Back in the day, it also functioned as a pathway for farmers, livestock, and equipment to cross beneath the busy railway tracks

Here’s where the intrigue begins. Local legend has it that this tunnel is haunted by the ghost of a young girl who met a tragic end. There are multiple versions of this eerie story, but they all share a common thread of gruesome and horrifying elements.

In one version, a nearby farm caught fire with a little girl inside. She managed to escape and is said to have frantically run into the tunnel in the hopes of finding help. Screaming in agony from the pain of her burns, she succumbed to her injuries while inside the tunnel.

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Another says this poor girl was set ablaze inside the tunnel by her very own father. The reason? A horrific reaction to a nasty divorce and custody battle.

A third version has her walking to her school bus stop when she used the tunnel as a shortcut to get there. Tragedy struck as when she exited on the other side, she was hit by a passing motorist. Her father came running upon hearing the commotion, screaming through the tunnel as he ran to her but she succumbed to her injuries while in his arms.

Here’s where a big part of the legend takes two separate paths. One school of thought says if people light a wooden match in the middle of the tunnel at midnight, it summons the dead girl’s soul and she screams.

The other school of thought is – and this is even creepier – if you light that wooden match at midnight, the girl’s ghost blows it out. Then, of course, she screams.

The Screaming Tunnel’s notoriety extends beyond folklore. In 1983, the renowned Canadian director David Cronenberg featured the tunnel in his film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, adding another layer of intrigue and mystique to this eerie location.

However, a little girl from the 1800s may have nothing to do with the screams. One Niagara historian says he spoke with a living descendant of the village that once was behind the Screaming Tunnel.

He was told that a husband and wife would fight constantly and whenever they did, she would walk into the tunnel and let out a banshee-level scream. Oddly, that one seems quite plausible.

Regardless of the real story, let’s take a closer look at the tunnel.

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