Passing through Ridgeway
With Halloween upon us it seems a good time to talk about unexplained things that do not always go bump in the night. I would suspect that each of us has had a chilling experience which we could not explain. I would also bet that most of us keep these events to ourselves, lest we be taken for a fledgling lunatic. That being said, I am going to tell you of my personal experiences at Ridgeway, the town famous for its ghost, a ghost which I call a chasing ghost, because of its tendency to pursue those it encounters.
It was December 1, 1981. My wife and I, proud parents of a baby girl born in October of that year, were driving home late at night from a visit to Madison. We had gone there that evening to pick up a relative who had flown in from Nevada for a visit. It was a black and windy night. We were near Ridgeway. As I drove along highway 151, my headlights illuminating the flakes of light snow that blew at me and flew by into the blackness, I could hear my wife beside me gently talking to the baby that she rocked in her arms to stop her crying. Our visitor slept in the back seat.
From nowhere a thin man dressed in ragged pants and an open shirt that waved in the wind appeared on my right, from the edge of the highway. His arms raised and flailing he ran right in front of me and disappeared into the darkness on my left.
“Did you see that!” I shouted.
“What?” my wife replied, raising her head from the child and looking at me.
“A guy just ran in front of me” I replied, “He must be crazy being out here in the freezing cold with only a shirt and undershirt on!”
She asked me what he looked like. Strangely enough, I could not remember his face, only the tattered shirt blown wildly by the wind and the arms above his head flapping as he dashed by. I drove home and remarked upon it to friends who were totally agreed that whoever he was, he must have been very drunk. Later I learned about the Ridgeway Ghost. I wondered, as I still do who or what I encountered that night.
It was October 25th 1992, my son Brian's fourteenth birthday. As a gift I took him and Tony, his younger brother to Madison to see a basketball game. The Milwaukee Bucks were playing the Phoenix Suns at the Dane County Coliseum. After an exciting game and as much autograph begging as Brian could do we had dinner and started home quite late. At that time, outside of Ridgeway along the highway there was an old farmhouse surrounded by trees. In later years someone spray painted “Haunted House” on the wall facing the highway, but it was not labeled so at that time. It was, as before, a very dark, moonless night that followed a cloudy day. As we drove by Ridgeway the house came into view on our left, which was unusual because ordinarily it was a mere streak in the headlights as one passed by. This night it was alive with light. From each window a diffuse, pinkish orange light reached into the darkness. From each of its windows came the same uniform light. The bare walls were visible within, but no source of light was visible. Everything was illuminated by the same odd soft light.
“Look at that” my son shouted, “What is it!”
“I don't know” I replied, transfixed by the unworldly apparition.
“Stop!” he shouted.
“No way” I replied and away we sped eastward toward Lancaster and home.
I have told friends about that night over the years. They look at me incredulously and then to mollify my apparent madness say something like “probably a prank of some sort.” I thought about it less frequently over the years, save when I visited my son, occasionally asking him if he remembers that night. He does. It came to mind suddenly while I was browsing the internet one day and came across the following post on a site:
“I want to relate an experience I had around Halloween, 1993. I'm from Ripon, Wisconsin. At the time of this story, I was also a student at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. To get to my school, I would travel from Ripon to Madison, get on highway 151, and go there to Platteville, which is in Grant County. On the way there, I would pass an old, abandoned farmhouse on 151. It was a very old building, completely isolated, and with no driveway. When going by, I would look through the windows. The interior of the dwelling was completely gutted, as if there had been a fire inside at one point. It looked as if a strong wind could knock the whole building over. Anyway, it was Halloween weekend. I was going back to Ripon with my roommate. By the time we left it was around 9:00 p.m. When we drove by the old house, I noticed that the building's interior was brightly lit, as if someone had been inside and turned on all the lights. That was what confused me. I saw what it looked like inside. There was no wiring of any sort in the building. I couldn't understand where the light was coming from. It wasn't lantern light; it looked like electricity, but it didn't seem possible. When we came back a couple days later, we noticed that the house looked like it had before - gutted. Strange! Several years later, I bought a book called Haunted Wisconsin. I read a chapter about the legendary "Ridgeway Ghost." In the chapter, there was a photo of the house where the ghost supposedly "lived." It was the same house! I got out a map and double-checked it with the book to make sure they were the same - and they matched. Apparently, when we drove by, the Ridgeway Ghost was "home.” by Mark G.” From: http://www.w-files.com/files/ghridgeway.html
The house is gone now. I have heard no reports since of men running in front of cars on dark highways. I have no doubt that, as my friend said, these events must have been some kind of prank. Some kind of prank by whom – or what?