Expedition Team: Dave Miller

Date: November 16, 2023

This famous tunnel, an icon of the Red River Gorge Geological Area, has a haunted claim although it smells more like an urban legend. Built in the early 1900’s by the Dana Lumber Company to carry logs from the gorge, it was a small tunnel barely big enough to fit the narrow-gauge steam locomotive. Two different crews worked on each side of the large ridge carving through the solid sandstone by blasting with dynamite.

One day during construction, a worker named Charlie McNabb was thawing frozen dynamite next to a fire. Both Charlie and his dog Spike were blown to bits. Many claim the spirit of Charlie is in a state of unrest and haunts the 900-foot-long tunnel. Locals have reported on some summer nights blue orbs are seen floating through the tunnel and a growling sound (perhaps the ghost of Spike) can be heard. Standing in the long, tight, dark tunnel is unnerving since you never know when a vehicle might approach. As for a ghostly blue presence there is a possible explanation. Park rangers claim that the tunnel ceiling is home to a bioluminescent phenomenon that is a larva similar to fungus gnats. In late spring/early summer the larvae give off a blueish light. This type of bioluminescence appearance occurs in only a handful of places in the world. This reminds me of seeing similar luminance on a night scuba dive trip when I turn the night light off and the ocean lights up.  I hope to return to the tunnel some night in the early summer to see this fantastic nature light show or instead, see a ghost that smells like dynamite.

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