The Vanishing Hitchhiker Legend in North Carolina: The Ghost of the Jamestown Bridge
Do you believe in ghosts? It is said that the spirit of a young woman haunts the underpass of a railroad bridge over E. Main Street in Jamestown, North Carolina. Known as “Lydia”, she has been seen on rainy and foggy nights as she walks alone or stands beside the road searching for help to get back home.
The legend of Lydia is based on sightings and stories, over the past seventy or more years, of a young woman in white as she stands by the road, attempting to flag down passing motorists for help. The ghost is believed to be that of a young woman who died tragically at the bridge many, many years ago. The stories share a common detail of a fatal car accident that occurred as a boy and girl drove on a rainy night to a dance, perhaps the prom. Since then Lydia’s spirit, robed in her dress, returns to the scene looking for a ride home or perhaps to the dance.
Local lore tells of the first sighting of Lydia around 1924. North Carolina folklorist Nancy Roberts included the account of an eerie sighting near the bridge of a woman in her 1959 An Illustrated Guide to Ghosts & Mysterious Occurrences in the Old North State. As collected from a man named Burke Hardison, he told of his encounter with a young woman as he traveled home to High Point on a rainy and foggy night when he was a student at NC State in 1924. Back then the bridge was over Highway 70, although since abandoned but very close to the present-day Jamestown Bridge over Main Street. Hardison claimed to see a girl dressed in a white gown. She signaled for him to stop and asked him to help her get to High Point. He drove her home, and when he went to get out of the car, she had vanished into thin air. He knocked on the door of the house, asked if the girl was there, only to learn from her mother that she had been killed in a car accident at a nearby underpass the year before.
There have been many attempts to match records and evidence with a real person named Lydia, but none have turned up any conclusive proof of a young woman named Lydia who may have died in an automobile accident in the area during the 1920s. In recent years, two local researchers who have long chased the Lydia legend , Amy Greer and Michael Renegar, came upon an article in the Greensboro Patriot from June 21, 1920 that reported the tragic death of a young woman named Annie Jackson who had been killed on the High Point Road, about three miles from High Point and close to the location of both the old and current bridge: when the driver lost control of the vehicle, Annie was thrown from the car. The article noted that the road was wet and the car “turned turtle.” Might this be the origin of the ghost and legend?
Many people over the years have claimed to see the girl in white alongside the road. Some have stopped to help, only to observe her vanish when they stepped out of their cars or turned around for a moment. Today the old bridge is cloaked in vines and overgrowth, giving it the aura of mystery and the supernatural. Both underpasses have become graffiti shrines to the folk legend, as generations of residents have claimed to see Lydia in her long white dress standing by the road waiting for help.
Now do you believe in ghosts? Be careful if you’re driving through Jamestown, North Carolina on a rainy night.
Geo-coords: 35.997231, -79.925862
— by Kelly Agan