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Midnight Mary, the Lady of the Lake

Not far from the much-haunted town of New Hope is the town of Bristol, Bucks County, near the Bordentown Road and Tullytown Lake. These are the haunts of a lovely young teenager in a pink dress who sometimes walks by the roadside, occasionally hitches a ride, and has been known to walk on the waters of the lake.

Her name is Midnight Mary, and her story is a familiar one to any fan of ghost fiction. A popular and beautiful young girl attends her high school prom. She gets a ride home from a young buck with one too many beers inside him—and when he loses control of the car, her promising life is cut short. In the case of Bristol’s Midnight Mary, the car sped right into Tullytown Lake, killing both the occupants. The boy’s body was dredged from the deep, but the girl’s was never found. Now, her spirit walks the night, a flower cut down in her prime, her

rosy future replaced by the frustrated longing of a spectral existence.

Right—that’s enough purple prose and overblown themes from b-list fiction. The fact is that many people claim to have seen a girl in a pink dress along Bordentown Road. A trucker once called the police after picking up a hitchhiker answering her description, only to find his passenger seat empty of everything but a large puddle. A mother walking her child in a stroller along the banks of the lake claimed she saw a pink-clad figure moving across the waters of the lake, almost as if she were dancing. The witnesses to these apparitions come from all strata of society, from matrons to middle schoolers, and many of the details seem remarkably similar.

Of course, when you look for hard evidence, there is none to be found. The nearby cemetery at St. James Episcopal on Cedar Street contains the grave of a Gertrude Spring who died in 1935, and who is believed to be the girl behind the Mary legend. Nobody can say for sure why Gertrude is associated with the ghost, or why the ghost goes by the name of Mary—but it must be said that Midnight Gertrude is a far less appealing name for a vision of loveliness on the water. My own twilight strolls and drives beside the lake never turned up any spectral visions, but there is a quality to the light on that water and something in the air that about the place that has a special quality.

So if you happen to spot a bright young thing in a pink ball gown in the vicinity of Bristol in Bucks County, only give her a ride if you have plenty of towels on board.

You can read about all of Pennsylvania’s other haunted hotspots in Weird Pennsylvania.

Weird Pennsylvania

 

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