Constructed in the early 1800s, the Screaming Tunnel, located in the northwest corner of Niagara Falls, in Ontario, Canada, is a small limestone tunnel running underneath the track of the Grand Trunk Railway. Often thought to be a railway tunnel, the 125 feet (38 m) long arched stone tunnel was actually constructed as a drainage passage to keep the tracks from being lost beneath floodwaters and also remove water from farmlands and the valley below.
However, the local farmers found it a safe way to transport goods and animals as the oncoming trains ran over the tunnel. The dark tunnel leads to a pathway through the woods, along with small clusters of cottages.
Even in its early days, the tunnel took on a haunted look as moss and algae took hold of the porous stones. Moreover, it was sufficient to make an eerie sensation, as the imposing dark structure transformed into a black portal at night. Simply for its sinister appearance, the simple tunnel gradually became the source of several scary tales and finally came to be known as the Screaming Tunnel.
Nobody really knows what actually happened in the tunnel that ended in a scream, but there are several versions of a local legend that ultimately maintains, the unearthly scream belongs to a helpless young girl living on a farm nearby who somehow caught fire and perished in the dark tunnel.
It is said that one night a local farm located near the tunnel accidentally caught fire and a screaming young girl ran out from the blaze for her life with her clothes and hair alight. However, before she could come out of the dark tunnel and find any possible help, the terrified girl collapsed in the middle of the tunnel and was burned alive. As the local stories tend to change with time, the story of the blazing and screaming girl also transformed into a more hideous version, in which the unfortunate girl was burned to death in the tunnel by her own father, blind with unbridled rage.
According to the new version, an alcoholic man living in a hut near the tunnel with his unhappy wife and daughter regularly abused and physically tortured his wife before the terrified child under the influence of alcohol. On that fatal night when the man knocked his wife unconscious, the little girl ran out of the cottage, stumbled into the tunnel, and crouched in the darkness to hide her presence, before hearing the approaching steps of her father. Soon she felt the warm breath of her father against her ear and immediately felt a cold liquid pouring down her body. But before she could run away, the snap and the light of a match struck the darkness, which ended the tragic life of the screaming girl. To present a more disturbing picture and to add more hideous colour to the legend, some versions say, the girl was raped by her father, who burned her alive to destroy the evidence.
It is believed by many that the spirit of the burning girl with her high-pitched terrified scream still haunts the tunnel, and hence it was named the Screaming Tunnel. It is said that if anybody dares to walk in the middle of the tunnel at night and light a match stick, the hovering spirit of the dead girl screams out in terror, and a sudden gust of wind blows out the lighted matchstick. Nevertheless, the pervasive legend gave notoriety to the otherwise unremarkable tunnel, and the eeriness of the location was utilized by the reputed Canadian film Director David Cronenberg in a scene in his film The Dead Zone (1983).