The Glowing Ghost of the Nada Tunnel
One of the newer members of Kentucky's menagerie of spirits is a ghost that's seen in the Red River Gorge near Slade, Kentucky. It's said that that a climber met his death while scaling a risky rock face in the area, and now the glowing light of his spirit can be seen where he died.
The Nada Tunnel, on Kentucky Route 77, also known as Nada Tunnel Road, is a genuinely stunning piece of engineering. Originally completed in the early 20th Century as passage for the narrow gauge railroad used by loggers working in the area, the tunnel now carries road traffic through the Red River Gorge. The tunnel seems designed to intimidate drivers. A tiny hole with layers and layers of limestone outcroppings sitting above it, the tunnel gives the illusion of being in danger of being crushed at any moment. The two-lane road also narrows to a single lane going through the very narrow tunnel, so drivers have to be constantly alert and hope that anyone coming through the tunnel on the other side got the message to yield.
It was the massive outcroppings above the tunnel that proved irresistible to a young daredevil rock climber from Ohio not too long ago. While there are plenty of climbing areas in the Red River Gorge, breaking ground on this new rock face with the traffic moving past below just seemed too exciting to pass up. This was just the first of a series of mistakes that led to his death.
The young man was climbing alone. He was not wearing any distinctive or brightly colored clothing. He was in an area that he wasn't familiar with. It was also already late in the afternoon when he set out on his climb. In these deep gorges, sunset comes early and nearly instantly when the sun sinks below the high cliff walls.
But the climber would not be deterred. He set out from the road beside the tunnel entrance, making his way up and over the ancient rocks. Moving from foothold to foothold, hand to handhold, he inched his way along the wall until he found himself about thirty feet directly above the entrance to the tunnel. That's when he realized just how much trouble he was in.
Having been so focussed on making his way up the rock face, the man had failed to notice how dark it had gotten. And in the cooling evening, the moisture in the air was beginning to cool and settle on the rocks — the wall was getting slippery.
Perhaps the young man panicked. Perhaps he missed his handhold. Perhaps he had just gravely overestimated his own abilities. Whatever the reason, the young man slipped and fell down towards the road below. He might have survived with just a few badly broke bones, except that has fall took him directly into the path of an oncoming truck as it emerged from the tunnel below. The driver had no time to react.
The truck driver pulled off to the side of the road and rushed back to see what he had hit. When the driver reached his side, it took the unfortunate climber eleven seconds to die.
Now, sometimes in the evenings, at the entrance to Nada Tunnel, a strange, bright green glow is seen. The light seems to be about the size and shape of a man. It rises up from the ground and glows for eleven seconds before disappearing.
Perhaps it's the ghost of the young man, returning to warn others not to be so foolhardy. Or perhaps he's still vainly reaching up from beyond the grave and trying to get back on the rock face. Whatever it is, if anything else this strange glow should be a reminder to drive carefully when going through the tunnel and through the gorge.