Want to see something really scary?
But there are more tales to be told on long car rides, at slumber parties and around the campfire – or campfire smartphone app. So to broaden your repertoire as a storyteller, and to pick up a few new things to be scared of, we’ve compiled a list of lesser known legends. We've tried to include origins, but when you pass the stories along, always remember that these all involve someone you "used to go to school with" or "in the town next to" where you grew up.
(Editor's note: We've tried to include origins of the stories where possible. There are regional variations of stories. Submit variations and new additions in our Forums or email us.)
At a train stop in a nearby town there worked a man in control of changing the tracks for oncoming trains. One day he was crossing the tracks to get back to his post when his foot was caught in between the rails. An approaching train sounded its whistle for the man to move but, try as he might, he could not get free. The train, unable to stop, hit the man, killing him instantly.
The town needed to find someone to replace the man’s job. They consulted with the man’s wife, Ann - after all, she was familiar with how to change the tracks.
The mournful widow decided she would honor her husband and accepted the job to support her now-fatherless children. Ann fell into a deep depression, unable to concentrate on nearly anything. She wondered away from her post one night, to go visit the spot her husband had died but forgetting it was time to change the tracks.
Two steam engines came barreling towards each other. When the conductors saw the tracks were not changed they tried to stop, but it was too late. The trains collided head on, killing all the passengers on board of each train.
In a rage, the town’s people found Ann and hung her for her negligence. Shortly after the crash, the town was abandoned and taken over by the forest.
But Widowed Ann still stays.
Years later a group of friends hiking through the forest came across the old town and found the old train station. They noticed a woman standing by the abandoned tracks, with her back facing them, and she seemed to be crying. When one of the men called out to her, she quickly turned around and started to charge at him. The man froze noticing the woman was transparent. As the woman reached him, she passed right through him and disappearing. The hikers left in a hurry, not talking about what had happened.
A few days later, the man who had the experience was found dead at his home.
The strange part was his body looked as if it was run over by a train…
Skinned Tom (Origins: Tennessee)
A young handsome man named Tom was popular with all the ladies, but fell in love with a certain married woman. When her husband would leave town for business, Tom would pick her up and they’d drive out to a secluded spot in the woods.
The husband started getting suspicious and one night told his wife he had to travel again for business. Instead of leaving, he parked down the road from his house and waited.
Sure enough, Tom pulled up.
The wife got into the car and they pulled away, unaware they were being followed. Tom pulled into their usual spot and started getting cozy with his girl when the door was flung open.
The husband dragged his wife out of the car, plunging a hunting knife into her stomach. Then he went for Tom. The husband managed to knock Tom unconscious and proceeded to skin the man.
The husband dropped his knife, staring at the carnage he created. Realizing what he had done, he turned himself into the police, but when the police arrived to the scene, they found the dead woman but Tom’s skinless body was nowhere to be found. The murder weapon was also gone.
Skinned Tom is said to still roam the woods, seeking revenge on anyone who crosses his path, and looking for a new skin suit or two.
Back some time ago, in a small mining town, there lived a man name John who owned five loyal hunting hounds. They were said to be the best hunting dogs for miles around. One night John had gone to the local pub, and met some friends. After drinking a little too much, they started getting into a debate on who really had the best hunting dogs in town. The conversation got heated, so they decided to put an end to it, and made a bet. The first man whose hounds killed a buck the next morning would be the victor.
After just a few more drinks, John went home and started preparing for the hunt. Still pretty intoxicated, John headed out at the break of dawn, determined to get his buck - and the winning title. After hours of searching and tracking, John and his tired dogs were having no luck. John was becoming enraged, taking his anger out on the dogs, pushing them to their breaking point.
The dogs could no longer go on. They stopped to rest by an old collapsed mine, which still had a coal fire burning below. The disgusted owner could not believe he was going to lose his best. Engulfed in rage, he leashed the beasts together and dragged them towards the burning coal fires, and pushed them over the edge to their fiery death.
Later, John awoke in his bed and couldn’t remember how he got there. For that matter, he couldn’t remember what he had done for day. He realized his dogs were missing and began to search for them. When his memory finally returned, he ran to the collapsed mine. He sat there staring into the flames, wishing his dogs could somehow come back. John started to hear faint demonic growling sounds, and it seemed to be coming from the fiery pit.
John then saw five shadows prowling in the flames, moving towards him. His dogs emerged from the flames as hell hounds; their eyes burned red and their bodies were charred from the fire.
John did not have a chance to move. Before he knew it, his hounds pounced on him, ripping him apart, limb from limb and dragging the pieces back into the fire. There they wait to this day, waiting for the next soul to drag back with them. Dog is man’s best friend, but treat them wrong and they can become your worst enemy.
Soap Sally (Origins: Georgia)
Miss Sally always was a polite woman. She had a small shop set up in town, selling her handmade soap. Everyone loved the soap because it had that extra special “something,” a secret ingredient but Miss Sally not divulge.
Miss Sally liked using the freshest, youngest blubber to make her soap: She would wander the streets at night, keeping her eye out for any children out way past their curfew, and Miss Sally would snatch them up. She would take them to her workshop in her basement, and as you might have figured out, she used the fat of the children as her secret ingredient.
So next time you’re at the store, and need to purchase soap, check the ingredients. You might be surprised.
Popobawa (Origins: Africa)
The Popobawa is a feared dark spirit, which has been sighted in much of eastern Africa. Where it comes from, no one really knows, but the name is Swahili for “bat-wing.” Some say it is a djinni, a demon spirit, released by a sheikh to take vengeance on his neighbor. Others say it’s the devil himself. But all agree that where ever it came from, it is pure evil.
The Popobawa has powers to shapeshift into any form, man or animal, and attacks its victims at night. The attacks are either physical or spiritual in nature, and sometimes involve possession.
Some have tried to fight the demon off, but none have been able to succeed. Others claim that fire will keep it at bay, but once it has found its prey, it will stop at nothing to hunt you down.
If you find yourself sitting around a camp fire, and hear an owl hooting off in the distance, keep your eyes out; it could be the Popobawa stalking its prey.
Dearg Due, The Bloodsucker (Origins: Celtic Myth)
A long time ago, in a quaint Irish town, lived a beautiful maiden. Her father was a rich, powerful and very cruel man. He wanted her to marry into a family to help him gain more power, but the maiden was in love with a poor peasant.
Once the father discovered this, he threatened to kill her love if she did not marry the man he had chosen for her. So the fair maiden gave in. The man was handsome and admired by all the other women in town, but a darkness lived inside him. Shortly after their marriage he became abusive. One night, after the maiden cursed revenge on him, he pushed her down the stairs, killing her.
She was buried the next morning. That night she arose from her grave and set out to seek revenge on her father and husband. She drained them of their blood, leaving their lifeless corpses behind.
She still wonders from town to town, looking for her next meal. She lures men in by her beauty, only to turn into a bloodsucking corpse who drains her victims.
Back in the late 1800s a baby boy was born to a prostitute. As he grew and became a young man, he had an obsession with women, and would go to dramatic lengths to make them submit to him.
Realizing he had a problem, he committed himself to a psychiatric hospital, but staying there drove him even more mad. He began attacking the nurses so they forced him to wear a straight jacket, but the Jakal just gnawed through the straps. The hospital then had a caged box placed over his head. Becoming even more violent, they imprisoned him in the basement, and that is where he stayed. The only company he had were the echoes of his screams.
One night the hospital caught fire. Everyone was able to escape, except the monster they kept locked in the basement.
His spirit still roams the grounds. The Jakal is seen in his straight jacket with tattered ends from where he had gnawed his arms free. He continues to wear the cage upon his head, but the bars are bent and broken to reveal his monstrous face chomping at the bit, trying to get to you.
Bunnyman (Origins: Clifton, Virginia)
Back in 1903, there was an insane asylum near a small, peaceful town. The town folk however, were not thrilled that the rejects of society were so close to them. After a town meeting, they agreed to transport the inmates to a different facility. They loaded the inmates onto busses and began the drive, but after a few miles, one of the bus drivers lost control and ran off the road, crashing into the woods. In the confusion, many inmates escaped. The police were eventually able to round up all the inmates but two: Marcus and Douglas.
The police continued their search, but were unable to track them down. The only clues they had, were the half eaten rabbits they found along the way. A few days into the search, they came to a bridge just a couple miles from the crash. They could see something hanging from the top. As they proceeded closer, they discovered it was the body of Marcus. He was hanging by his neck, gutted like a pig, but Douglas was still nowhere to be found.
Days turned to weeks and weeks into months, and Douglas still remained at large. Eventually the police gave up, assuming that Douglas “The Bunnyman” would sooner or later venture into another town, or end up dying from natural elements.
Years went by and the Bunnyman story turned into a local legend. Mischievous teens would venture to the Bunnyman Bridge on bets they were not brave enough to stand underneath the bridge and to call out the Bunnyman.
One particular night a group of teens standing under the bridge dared to call “Bunnyman, Bunnyman, Bunnyman.” The bridge lights went out, leaving them in complete darkness.
All that could be heard were their screams. The next morning the police found their bodies, hanging from the bridge, gutted. And the only trail they had were the corpses of half-eaten rabbits scattered through out the woods.
No Face Man (Origins: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
The local electric company called out one of their employees to repair the tracks for a rail car. He had to go under the bridge to gain access to the main electrical box. A train started to come, rattling the tracks and scaring some pigeons that flew in front the man, scaring him. He lost his balance and fell on one of the electrical lines, and was electrocuted to a crisp. He lost both his eyes, his nose and one arm, leaving him horribly disfigured.
No one so much of him after that.
It is said that he strolls the streets late at night, hiding his disfigurement, in the cover of night, from curious onlookers.
If your curiosity gets the best of you, and you go walking the streets at night in hopes to catch a glimpse of the No Face Man, you might get more than you bargained for. No Face Man just might cut out your eyes and nose to replace his.
Atahsaia, the Cannibal Demon (Origins: New Mexico)
In the foothills of a long lost Zuni tribe sits a cave, deep in the forest. The tribe that once inhabited the area is said to have been tormented by some dark force. Members of the tribe were continuously disappearing, so they decided to form a hunting party to go off to see if they could find, and kill, whatever was causing this.
The hunting party came to the cave, hesitant to go on, but knew they had to protect their people. They pushed forward. Inside was dark and damp, and a steady howling of a ghostly breeze blew through. It was as if the cavern itself was breathing.
The hunters lit their torches and the dim light revealed a hellish sight: There was blood smeared all over the caverns walls and pools of blood across the floors, with entrails leading down further in the cave. They continued deeper into the darkness, remaining afraid but determined to find the beast responsible.
All of a sudden a gust of wind came hurling through the cave, extinguishing their torches. As they tried frantically to relight them, in the faint lights of the sparks, they could make out a figure coming towards them. Spark by spark it continued coming closer and closer.
Finally they were able to light the torch, and there they stood faced with their monster. It was a horrid-looking demon that towered over them, with pale scale like skin and bulging black eyes. The worst part was he was draped in the skins of the missing tribe members. The hunters tried to run, but were unable to escape in the maze of the cavern, leaving them trapped and left to the demon.