Thursday, December 1, 2011


On the Platte River between Torrington and Alcova, Wyoming, a legend persists that a "Ship of Death” continues to sail upon the sometimes dangerous waters. The phantom ship is said to rise out of a strange mist that quickly becomes a massive rolling ball of fog. As the ship grows closer, witnesses report that its sails and masts are covered with frost. Upon its deck stands the crew, also covered with frost, huddled around a corpse lying on a canvas sheet. The legend continues that the ship always foreshadows the death of someone who will die on the day that it is spotted. As the crew steps back, the identity of the corpse is revealed as a person known by the witness.

The first alleged sighting was made in 1862 by a trapper named Leon Weber. When the crew stepped back, the corpse revealed the body of Weber’s fiancé who died later on that same day. 

Another sighting of the phantom ship was made by cattleman, Gene Wilson in 1887, when he saw the body of his wife laid out on the canvas. 

In 1903, another tale describes that when Victor Heibe was chopping down a tree on his riverfront property, he spied the ship. Laid out on the deck was the body of a close friend.

Every case was reported in the late fall, and in all cases, the person seen upon the deck of the phantom ship died on the very same day.

One of the sightings allegedly occurred six miles southeast of the town of Guernsey, near Casper, Wyoming. Another sighting was said to have occurred at Bassemer Bend on the Platte River.
This story reminds me of the "Flying Dutchman" ship that is seen in odd places.  One of the sightings was in the San Juan Islands south of Vancouver Island, B.C.  A narrow channel is navigated by boats there.  One of the ships saw the ghost ship, The Flying Dutchman, pass by and narrowly miss the observer ship.

"The legend of the Flying Dutchman concerns a ghost ship that can never make port, doomed to sail the oceans forever. It probably originates from 17th-century nautical folklore. The oldest extant version dates to the late 18th century.

Sightings in the 19th and 20th centuries report the ship to be glowing with a ghostly light. If hailed by another ship the crew of the Flying Dutchman will try to send messages to land, or to people long dead. In ocean lore, the sight of this phantom ship is a portent of doom."

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