The Blue Ghost Tunnel
     "The Blue Ghost Tunnel", also known as "The Merritton Tunnel" due to its proximity to Merritton (now a part of St. Catharines),  was constructed in the mid - 1870's as a part of the 3rd Welland Canal. Also known as "The Great Western Railway Tunnel", it provided passage for the Great Western Railway under the 3rd canal just south of the old lock 18 which is located about 3/4 of a mile east of the "flight locks" of the present 4th canal. 

     The Great Western Railway was absorbed by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1882 and the tunnel became known as "The Grand Trunk Railway Tunnel".  The tunnel continued in use until around the time of the First World War when it was replaced by a swing bridge just south of the old lock 17.

     There was a train wreck adjacent to the tunnel in the early 20th century and the ghost(s) of the person(s) killed are alleged for some reason to have chosen to haunt the tunnel. Images of wispy fog and mist are said to provide evidence of this haunting; and the tunnel became known as "The Blue Ghost Tunnel."  Large, dark abandoned structures such as this certainly have a spectral atmosphere about them. 

Hence, we have four names for the same structure:

  • The Great Western Railway Tunnel
  • The Merritton Tunnel
  • The Grand Trunk Railway Tunnel
  • The Blue Ghost Tunnel
     The Grand Trunk Railway was in turn absorbed by the Canadian National Railway system shortly after the First World War and the swing bridge (although it no longer swings) is still in regular use by the C.N.R.

The German Church Cemetery
     Another possible reason for "ghosts" in this area revolves around an old cemetery, most of which is now located under the water of the large pond immediately north of the Old Lakeview Cemetery as shown below. A Lutheran church was built in this area about 1773; and it was replaced with St. Peter's Anglican Church about 1832. St. Peter's gradually fell into disuse and in the 1920's it was decided to flood the area to make the present pond for the operation of the present 4th Welland Canal. However, there was a cemetery on the grounds. According Hamilton Paranormal, to only about 250 graves out of over 900 were moved to what is now the Old Lakeview Cemetery. The rest were flooded. 

     The land on which the flooded cemetery was located had been deeded in the early 19th century to the original Lutheran church to be used as a cemetery in perpetuity. Apparently the remaining "residents" of the flooded cemetery took exception to having their graves flooded by the new pond and decided to haunt the area . . . or so the story goes. 

     For the complete story, see the website of Hamilton Paranormal and scroll down a bit. In all fairness to those who decided not to move all the graves, remember that these were graves dating from "pioneer" times. The simple wooden coffins would have been in rough condition by the 1920's when the cemetery was flooded. However, there were tombstones left as well in the flooded area. At the very least, these stones should have been re-located and not left at the bottom of the pond. Some sources claim that all tombstones were re-located; while Hamilton Paranormal shows photos of tombstones in flooded area. 

. . . .thanks to "Ajum The Great" at Urban Exploration Resource for mentioning this.

The following images of "The Blue Ghost Tunnel" and vicinity are from:
Greenwald et al,  The Welland Canals, Historical Planning and Research Branch,
Ontario Ministry of Culture and Recreation, 1979
Blue Ghost Tunnel, view from west      "Dating from the original canal works is one railroad tunnel under the former Lock 18 . . ..  The tunnel is now abandoned for rail use, but its face and retaining walls are clearly intact at both ends. It is structurally complete, but leaks somewhat."
...The Welland Canals, pages 58 & 59
Blue Ghost Tunnel, west end seen from south.      Among the recommendations made by Greenwald in 1979 we find:

     "The entire area should be designated as a park."

     ". . . the inclusion of such features as the old railway tunnel in a trail, would create pathways of historic interest."

...The Welland Canals, cover photo
and page 102.
swing bridge      "Looking North Locks 12 to 16 Third Canal Truss Bridge in Foreground"
...The Welland Canals, page 57

      This is the "swing bridge" that no longer swings and was built to replace the tunnel.  Note the Garden City Skyway spanning the present 4th canal in the distance. 

pond      "Looking north-west from Lock 22 to Lock 21 Third Canal"
...The Welland Canals, page 57

The old cemetery is thought to be somewhere under this pond, possibly in the foreground. 

Lock 18
"Lock 18, January 2008"
... photo by Robert Sewell
The Blue Ghost Tunnel is located under the stream and bull rushes above lock 18. In all fairness to those who claim the tunnel is unsafe, if part of it  were for some reason to collapse, this water would rush into the tunnel. 

The Blue Ghost Tunnel would instantly become a decidedly unhealthy place to be at the time!

It would be expensive to repair the Blue Ghost Tunnel properly; but local governments seem to have plenty of money when it comes to financing downtown (adults only) drinking parties such as the annual  "Wine Festival" during which public intoxication is acceptable.

Grand Trunk Railway Tunnel in 1886
Tunnel in 1886  "Blue Ghost Tunnel 1886"

Note the sailing ship above the tunnel. The caption reads "G. T. R. Tunnel under Canal. Lock 18."   The photo is from a manuscript plan entitled "1886 Dominion of Canada Department of Railways and Canals" 

Photo from Archives Canada
Click HERE for details.

"The Blue Ghost Tunnel" To-day
East End of the Tunnel

See the wispy mists? They appeared only in the photo and were not there before or after the photo was taken! This MUST be the ghosts of the tunnel!

What, pray tell, is going on here?

For more details, please click on:

East End of the Tunnel

Thanks to Steve Weatherbe for mentioning that the Blue Ghost Tunnel figures in the plot of one of the Benny Cooperman mystery thrillers by Howard Engel, set in mythical "Grantham", which is really St. Catharines, Ontario. Hero Benny Cooperman escapes a gang by taking to the railway tunnel. If you know the title of the Howard Engel book where the old railway tunnel is featured, please click to contact Robert Sewell.  

west entrance
West End of the Tunnel

The authorities made a valiant effort at blocking up the west end of the Blue Ghost Tunnel. The jail-style door is made of heavy steel bars and the concrete blocks feature steel reinforcing rods.

For more photos of west end of the tunnel, please click on:

West End of the Tunnel

References used for this page include the following:

Greenwald et al,  The Welland Canals, Historical Planning and Research Branch, Ontario Ministry of Culture and Recreation, 1979
Ron Brown, Ghost Railways of Ontario, Polar Bear Press, Toronto, 1998
Ron Brown, Ghost Railways of Ontario Vol. 2, Polar Bear Press, Toronto, 2000

Some interesting links include the following:

The "Blue Ghost Tunnel"
is said to be haunted,
presumably by a blue ghost. 

blue ghost

This is the best I could do.

Seriously, though, this tunnel is 
a very eerie sort of place.
Check out the links
for some real ghost images.

Check out my page about 
The Screaming Tunnel
The St. Davids Road Tunnels

Click to visit 
Robert Sewell's Index page

Welland Canals

Hamilton Paranormal

The Blue Ghost Tunnel

Blue Ghost Tunnel at "Infiltration"

Thanks to
Niagara Amateur Ghost Seekers
who no longer operate a web site.

Click to contact Robert Sewell