; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Belchentunnel's 'White Lady'

I have a distinct interest with paranormal events reported from Switzerland. The Strickler family, as well as my paternal grandmother's family, were Swiss. Over the years I have established contacts with a few investigators in Zurich and the surrounding Cantons. The 'haunting' I'm going describe seems similar to many of the urban legends chronicled here in the United States...but there are serious researchers in Switzerland who believe that this phenomenon is authentic:

People worldwide have a fascination with vanishing hitchhikers / spirits who appear corporeal enough when accepting a ride, but somehow vanish without a trace during the course of the journey. Most of these tales seem to be classified as 'urban legends.' But one place renowned for its spectral activity is Switzerland’s Belchentunnel (Bölchentunnel - "Bölchen" is local dialect for "Belchen"). The hitchhiker in this case appears to be an elderly woman in white garb.

The Belchentunnel is 3.2 Km long and was built in the 1960’s for the N2 motorway to pass beneath the high ground between Eptingen in Basel-Country and Hägendorf in Solothurn. The Eptingen side of the tunnel has become well known for a phantom hitchhiker that would be picked up from the hard shoulder of the motorway only to vanish from the vehicle in question while traveling through the Belchentunnel.

This ghost is known as the White Lady as she is described as being an old woman dressed all in white. An article appeared about the ghost in a paper called Blick on January 6, 1981...then closely followed by other forms of media. The haunting became very popular, very quickly.

Actually, the first known report of the phantom did not describe a woman dressed in white. In June 1980, the first witness accounts emerged of a man hitchhiking from the shoulder of the highway. The man would then disappear from the host vehicle without a trace.

The experience that seems to be retold time and again happened on September 26, 1983. The ghost was picked up by two young women, both lawyers, in Eptingen and given a lift through the tunnel. They said she looked middle-aged and pale. Thinking she may be ill they asked questions about her health and the white lady confirmed that she was not feeling well at all. She then told the two women that something terrible was going to happen. During the trip through the tunnel the front passenger turned to ask about the white lady’s health again, only to find she had vanished.

Completely horrified they drove then to the restaurant "The Spanish" in Härkingen and called the police. The eerie story made the Swiss newspaper headlines.

Some parapsychologists have their theories on the white woman, including that it could be 'the mind of an accident victim who does not come to rest.' In other words, the 'White Lady' is the manifestation of an earthbound spirit.

There have been several experiments using noted mediums who would sit in a car while moving through the tunnel. None of the mediums said they sensed the 'White Lady.' The most recent attempt was made in June 2010.

Again and again, there are reports of the Belchentunnel phantom, although the alleged sightings have become rare since the late eighties. A 1981 article in the magazine Schweizer Volkskunde describes analogous visitations. According to it, such "modern ghosts of the road" were seen in other Swiss Cantons and tunnels, such as the Toggenburg. One should remain wary, as motorists, of pale hitchhikers.

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