It’s Halloween — a day for spooks, goblins, candy and ghost stories. Locally, one of the most famous ghost stories takes place along a stretch of Arkansas 365 between Pulaski County and Pine Bluff, which is said to be haunted by a young woman who’s hitchhiking her way home.
Though the accounts differ somewhat from person to person, the general consensus is that the woman died in a car accident many years ago, and her spirit remains along the roadside. Blogger Laurie Marshall shared the following account about the 365 hitchhiker on Only in Arkansas:
“The wet pavement was black as ink on Arkansas 365 when Josh caught sight of a figure standing on the side of the road ahead. The young woman was soaked to the skin, and shyly grateful for the ride. She gave him an address in Redfield, and Josh made small talk about the recent high school football game as they drove, but his passenger remained quiet. When they arrived at the address, she seemed to be asleep, and there were no lights on at the house, so he decided to knock on the door first, to make sure it was the right place.
“A woman came to the door, and turned on the porch light as he smiled and spoke up, ‘Good evening ma’am – I believe I have your daughter. I picked her up a few miles down the highway and she seems a little out of sorts. I wonder if you wouldn’t mind helping me get her into the house?’
“The woman stepped back from the doorway with a fearful look and Josh felt a sudden sense of dread. ‘That is not my daughter,’ she told him, ‘My daughter died in an accident four years ago tonight.’
“Josh ran back to his car through the muddy yard and yanked open his passenger door, and rain pitter-patted on the empty seat.
“There are several versions of this story of a lone woman on the side of Arkansas 365 near Woodson. Each one involves picking up a hitchhiker who then disappears when the driver delivers her to the address she offers, always on the anniversary of her death.
“Some stories say the person at the house is a man, others say a woman. In some retellings, the young woman asks the driver to go to the door, others say she disappears before they arrive. Even more elaborate is a story of the driver tracking down the girls’ grave and finding the coat she was wearing when he picked her up hanging on her headstone.
“It’s a lovely tale of a ‘residual’ haunting – a haunting that continues to occur over and over without any change in the story, as if it is looped on a recording. It’s almost as though the grief and sadness of the woman’s loss is so strong that it burned itself into the ribbon of time itself.”
On the Commercial’s Facebook page, several people responded with their own accounts of the phantom hitchhiker.
Frankie Brooks wrote: “I’ve been researching this for years. Apparently there was an accident in Woodson in the 40s involving a young man and woman. In 1948, two (Arkansas Department of Correction) workers making a delivery spotted the couple and a car between the bridge and railroad tracks on 365.
“The couple and car disappeared. Due to multiple reports of seeing the girl walking on 365 between the bridge and the town of Redfield, ASP investigated the incidents in 1980 (Trooper Robert Rooten, I think.) This investigation made the paper. The story is retold in a movie called ‘Encounter with the Unknown’ from 1973. Allegedly, the vanishing hitchhiker occurs only on stormy nights in the spring. Is it true? Who knows… .”
Christy Walker wrote: “My dad has told me this story for years said he has seen her and one of his friends picked her up and when he got close to where she lived she was gone and hes sit was wet.”
Racheal Rickey wrote: “My Grandpa use to tell me this story all the time…..he has since passed away but I remember the story quite well.”
Lisa Willis said of the hitchhiker: “It’s real. I’ve seen her. She chilled my bones.”