Cohoke Crossing - West Point

Railroad track with signal lamp in the distance

Outside of the small town of West Point in the Tidewater region, there’s a little-known railroad crossing known as“CohokeCrossing.” During the warm summer months, onlookers gather hoping to see a mysterious yellow light that forms along the railroad tracks. The single yellow light appears to emanate from either a lantern or an old-timey steam engine train.

Several stories surround this mystery light. The first involves a brakeman that was allegedly decapitated in the 1800s. During one of his nightly rounds, he hopped off the train with his trusty lantern to check the connection between two of the cars. When he leaned between the cars, the train suddenly lurched forward and instantly decapitated him. This story is hard to prove because death records from that time period are sketchy at best. Also, the light people see appears to be larger than that of a mere lantern… though we do like the idea of a headless trainman wandering the tracks with an old lantern.

The second story involves a Civil War train filled with Confederate soldiers that disappeared before reaching its destination. The train was likely ambushed by Union soldiers and burned somewhere along the tracks. Perhaps the mysterious light is that of the ill-fated Confederate train and its ghostly passengers. Sadly, no one has ever gotten close enough to the light to verify if it comes from a train. It’s also impossible to photograph, so only those who brave the darkness to witnesses its flickering beauty are able to tell of its existence. 

The third story sounds more otherworldly than supernatural. A Richmond man who visited Cohoke Crossing with four friends described his experience with the light saying ,“All five of us saw it at the same instant. Everyone gasped in shock at the exact same moment, which tells me it wasn’t any kind of figment or our eyes playing tricks on us. That location is so remote from any civilization or traffic that it is pitch black and silent. Just being there is unsettling enough because it is so in the middle of nowhere. I could barely see my own hand in front of my face.” He continues,“It looked like a welding arc. It was bright and shimmered for about three or four seconds and vanished. It appeared very far away. The second time it appeared as red, moving from left to right and it illuminated the tops of the rails, so it was easy to gauge its distance. The light appeared to turn into several lights and they again vanished after about four seconds. It then appeared randomly four more times, each time moving closer to our location. The last two appearances were in quick succession, about ten seconds apart and then they very clearly illuminated the ground underneath.”

Whether the mysterious light at Cohoke Crossing comes from the lantern of a headless trainman or some alien entity, it’s definitely a good place to visit if you want to experience the paranormal. 

Meredith Jenkins