A Spectral Story: Queen City Cotton Mill Ghost

“Burlington’s Ghost.” From the Vermont Watchman, November 28, 1900.

Happy Halloween, or as the historic newspapers have it, happy Hallowe’en, from VTDNP!

Halloween is today, and thus, it’s appropriate to share a ghostly tale that captivated Burlingtonians at the turn of the twentieth-century at the Queen City Cotton Mill on Burlington’s waterfront. Dozens of people attested to witnessing the apparition of a recently-deceased mill worker, Marie Blais, around the premise of the property.

Marie was hit by a train in June of 1900 at the Lakeside railroad crossing, and was killed immediately.

By that fall, stories of the female mill ghost became prevalent–the lights of the trains would flicker when passing over where Marie was killed, and people attested to seeing visions of the girl near the railroad tracks and of her working at her old loom in the mill at night. Some even attested to hearing screams near the track.

Marie was not the only person to die while crossing the railroad tracks on the Burlington waterfront. The trains moved frequently and fast transporting goods from the waterfront factories, and there were no safe crossings. By 1908, however, there was an effort to make an underpass by the cotton mill. At a hearing in January of 1908, it was claimed that daily over 500 mill workers had to cross the railroad tracks multiple times a day, when the trains were frequently moving. In that same year, an underpass was created.

The Queen City Cotton Mill building is still extant on 128 Lakeside Avenue and the tracks where Marie died are nearby, if you are so inclined to visit the site. However, as the author of the article, “Burlington’s Ghost,” advises, “Did you ever see a ghost? If so you can appreciate what happens nightly at the Queen City cotton mill. If you are weak and have little courage, keep away.”

Want some more ghost stories? Spectral stories were posted in historic Vermont newspapers with some prevalence, along with other works of fiction and poetry–newspapers provided an wide range of entertainment literature, beyond political and local news.

Here’s some additional spooky stories printed in Vermont papers:

How DO church yards yawn? Image from the story “When Church Yards Yawn.”

A Singular Story, Fisher’s Ghost,” Vermont watchman and state journal, September 29, 1853.

When Church Yards Yawn,” Burlington weekly free press, May 30, 1912.

A Ghost Story,” Vermont phoenix, May 7, 1846.

A Good Ghost Story,” St. Johnsbury Caledonian, May 24, 1878.

A Hallowe’en Party,” Burlington weekly free press, November 4, 1915.

Last minute Hallowe’en supplies needed? See this ad from 1919.

-Karyn Norwood