The Ghost of Casey Jones

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From episode Last Train to Oblivion. The tormented spirit of Casey Jones returns to the world of the living to haunt Grand Central Station in an astounding fashion. Pale, transparent with large google covered eyes and sharpe fingernails, dressed only in engineers coveralls with a faded hat, the ghost is quite a terrifying sight to behold.

He first appears as bolts of psychokinetic energy coursing through the train tracks before finally animating them, brining them to life in a display of PK force, before finally fully manifesting, right as the midnight express from Trenton, New Jersey pulled into the station on Track 13. He goes on to haunt the station, frightening off passengers and staff of the train station until the Ghostbusters are called in to deal with him, much to Peter's dismay upon discovering who it is that is haunting the station itself and his delight at being able to investigate a train station as Peter is an avid train lover.

Peter's delight quickly turned to horror as Casey Jones kidnapped him and tied him to an old steam locomotive and launched the train from the station, barreling down the tracks at break neck speed, ordering Peter in a deep and gravelly voice " Coal, more coal!".

The ghost of Casey Jones is a Class 4 full torsoed vaporous apparition, being a human spirit with a solidified identity. The ghost appeared to be fond of coffee and tea and according to Egon, could be "up for hours."

After kidnapping Peter, Casey keeps the Ghostbuster constantly shoveling in more coal and Peter has no choice but to comply as Casey shows him how easily he could be done away with by crushing iron. After leading the Ghostbusters on a cross country chase, the remaining three team members board the train and finally trap the ghost. They realize then that the train the spirit has taken over is headed directly into the path of an oncoming Amtrak passenger train and discover that they cannot stop the huge locomotive, which bears an eerie resemblence to the real Engine 382 that killed Casey Jones over a hundred years ago, and that in mere moments, the two trains would collide killing them and every passenger aboard the Amtrak recreaeting the fatal wreck.

Peter's knowledge of the history of trains saves the day and he concludes correctly that Casey had not returned to take lives but to save them and quickly releases the trapped engineer from the ghost trap. Casey switches the tracks just in time and the trains miss each other by inches. The old steam train finally stops and Peter explains that Casey, having been killed in an accident in life wanted to prevent it from happening again so as to atone for his misdeeds (he was blamed for rushing and not obeying flag signals) and now, having done that, could rest.

Having completed what he set out to do, the ghost of the infamous Casey Jones crossed over to the Other Side peacefully and finally took the rest he had worked so hard to earn in death that he never got in life.

In Real Life

John Luther "Casey" Jones was born on March 14, 1863 and was an American railroad engineer from Jackson, Tennessee, who worked for the Illinois Central Railroad.

Jones himself was prodigy and he was finally promoted to engineer, his lifelong goal, on February 23, 1891.

Railroading was a talent, and Jones was recognized by his peers as one of the best in the business. He was known for his insistence that he "get her there on the advertised" (time) and that he never "fall down": arrive at his destination behind schedule. He was so punctual, it was said that people set their watches by him.

He also had peculiar skill with the train whistle. His whistle was made of six thin tubes bound together, the shortest being half the length of the longest. Its unique sound involved a long-drawn-out note that began softly, rose and then died away to a whisper, a sound which became his trademark.

The sound of it was variously described as "a sort of whippoorwill call" or "like the war cry of a Viking.” People living along the Illinois Central right-of-way between Jackson, Tennessee, and Water Valley, Mississippi, would turn over in their beds late at night upon hearing it and say “There goes Casey Jones” as he roared by.

The ghosts heroic actions in the episode "Last Train to Oblivion" was not the only time Casey acted selflessly.

An incident occurred sometime around 1895 as Jones’ train approached Michigan City, Mississippi. He had left the cab in charge of fellow Engineer Bob Stevenson who had reduced speed sufficiently to make it safe for Jones to walk out on the running board to oil the relief valves. He advanced from the running board to the steam chest and then to the pilot beam to adjust the spark screen.

He had finished well before they arrived at the station as planned and was returning to the cab when he noticed a group of small children dart in front of the train some sixty yards ahead. All cleared the rails easily except for a little girl who suddenly froze in fear at the sight of the oncoming iron horse. Jones shouted to Stevenson to reverse the train then told the girl to get off the tracks in almost the same breath. Realizing that she was still immobile, he quickly swung into action.

He raced to the tip of the pilot or cowcatcher and braced himself on it as he reached out as far as he could to pull the frightened but unharmed girl from the rails saving her from a quick and messy death.

As much as he was talented, Casey was also known to be a risk taker and was in hot water with the rail road more times than one, being issued 9 different citations and spending 145 days over his career suspended.

Death of an Engineer

On the night of April 29, 1900, Casey and engine 382 with Sim Webb firing were listed out of Memphis on train #1 with six cars southbound for Canton. Conductor was J. C. Turner. The scheduled departure time was 11:15. Records indicate he left at 12:50; one hour and thirty-five minutes late.

A good engine, a good fireman, a light train and away late; the perfect setting for a record run. He made that record run too, if the oft quoted departure time of 12:50 is correct, for Casey went to Goodman on time for a meet with #2.

While Casey was rolling south, the stage was being set for his tragic wreck. Freights #72 and #83 were both in the passing track at Vaughan and there were more cars than the track would hold. It was necessary for these trains to move north or south to clear the main line switches in order to allow other trains to pass; this is known as a saw- by.

Meanwhile, northbound local passenger #26 arrived from Canton and had to be sawed in on the house track west of the main line. As #83 and #72 sawed back south to clear the north passing track switch, an air hose broke on #72 and he couldn't move. Several cars of #83's train were still out on the main line above the north switch.

Webb's view from the left side of the train was better than Casey's, and he was first to see the red lights of the caboose on the main line. "Oh my Lord, there's something on the main line!" he yelled to Jones. Jones quickly yelled back "Jump Sim, jump!" to Webb, who crouched down and jumped about 300 feet before impact and was knocked unconscious. The last thing Webb heard when he jumped was the long, piercing scream of the whistle as Jones tried to warn anyone still in the freight train looming ahead.

Jones reversed the throttle and slammed the airbrakes into emergency stop, but "Ole 382" quickly plowed through a wooden caboose, a car load of hay, another of corn and half way through a car of timber before leaving the track. He had amazingly reduced his speed from about 75 miles per hour to about 35 miles per hour when he impacted with a deafening crunch of steel against steel and splintering wood.

Because Jones stayed on board to slow the train, he no doubt saved the passengers from serious injury and death (Jones himself was the only fatality of the collision). His watch was found to be stopped at the time of impact which was 3:52 AM on April 30, 1900. Popular legend holds that when his body was pulled from the wreckage of his train near the twisted rail his hands still clutched the whistle cord and the brake.

The railroad's formal investigation concluded that "Engineer Jones was solely responsible for the accident as consequence of not having properly responded to flag signals."

The passenger's lives whom he saved viewed Jones a hero and hailed his actions of such, feeling they owed their lives to him.

Casey has inspired more than just the writers of the Ghostbusters but also in song, film and books, perhaps most famously with the popular and haunting song, The Ballad of Casey Jones by Wallace Saunders and T. Lawrence Seibert written in about 1900.