Richmond’s been through a fair share of the spooky in its nearly three centuries of history. Whether you believe them or not, stories about mysterious graveyard dwellers and bizarre non-dogs on doorsteps have been haunting the River City for over a hundred years.
Richmond’s most famous undead dweller is the Richmond Vampire. After several decades shrouded in hearsay and mystery, the creature first appeared in print in the Commonwealth Times in 1976. The Times reported that W.W. Pool, a local bookkeeper who died in 1922, was “alleged to be a vampire.”
The article goes on to explain that the vampire is said to have escaped the tragic Church Hill tunnel collapse in October 1925. After the tunnel collapsed, killing multiple railroad workers trapped inside, eyewitnesses reported seeing a bloodied man with jagged teeth emerge and flee from the wreckage. He was chased, but disappeared into the mausoleum of W.W. Pool.
Doubters say this was actually Benjamin Mosby, a 28-year old who was inside the tunnel when it collapsed. Mosby made it out of the wreckage, disoriented and in shock, and sprinted for the river before being taken to the Grace Street Hospital. Mosby would soon die of his injuries and be buried in — you guessed it — Hollywood Cemetery.
Richmond also has a more benevolent cryptid named Elmer.
In the summer of 1935, Georjie Douglass answered a tapping at her door to find a beast about the size of a raccoon with webbed feet, a bulldog face, and green glowing eyes. She dubbed the creature Elmer, and in the weeks that followed it became a local sensation. Nightly search parties grew as large as 2,000 strong, and the headlines proclaimed a “weird mystery here.”
Elmer was eventually found to be a family of opossums, but some still swore to have seen the green-eyed creature.
So take a walk through Hollywood Cemetery this week, or listen for a tapping at your door. A piece of Richmond’s paranormal history could be anywhere.