ST. PAUL, Minn. – You’re hauling at 62 miles per, in the middle of the night on an unlit highway near Little Big Horn.
You hear a voice:
"Can you help me?"
It’s from inside your cab.
You look over your shoulder to the sleeper. Sitting there in buckskins is Custer. Yeah, that Custer . You go cold in your seat. Then he’s gone.
Truckers can have some frightening experiences in this line of work, although they mostly involve speeding Honda’s packed with teenagers and the truckstop chef’s Special of the Day.
But the ghost of the doomed general as a backseat driver?
One trucker swears it happened. And you’ll be able to read his whole shuddersome story, and many others like it, in an upcoming book called Trucker Ghost Stories: Haunted Highways, Weird Encounters & Legends of the Road.
The book is a mix of true tales and trucker lore primarily told by long-haul drivers and others in the transportation industry like diesel mechanics, trucking company security guards, or truckers’ wives or girlfriends.
Long stretches of quiet solitude on barely moonlit roads: Truckers are made to tell ghost stories
On top of Custer’s apparently never-ending last stand, you’ll read about a phantom truck (no, not 309) that saved a driver’s life; ghost trains, UFOs and the prom girl ghost of Alabama.
Annie Wilder is the book’s author. Well, she insists, on this one she’s more of an editor. Her mission is to make readers feel as if they’re in the cab, riding shotgun as the driver tells his tale.
"I have worked very hard to keep these stories in the truckers’ own voices," a very genial Wilder tells todaystrucking.com. "I want to keep the essence of it … and all the trucker vernacular intact. It makes the reading experience so much richer."
Wilder has inked two other ghost story books: The True Story of a Haunted House and Spirits Out of Time. (This truck writer’s significant other has read them both and loved them).
Wilder describes the dwelling as "energetically unusual" and while it can be scary at times, the spirits in it are more like "protective allies."
It’s no wonder that Wilder recognized that truckers and ghost stories go together like The Leafs and missing the playoffs.
Think about it — long stretches of quiet solitude on barely moonlit roads, closed in by black forests. No kidding truckers see more weird things than other people.
Wilder began soliciting for stories on trucker Internet threads but has since launched a Facebook page for the project where truckers are invited to contribute personal tales, ideas or advice.
Even though the trucker book is the third in her paranormal series, Wilder says the seeds for the idea were planted when she was a teenager working at her father’s mining plant.
Her job was to answer the phone and print up invoices and bills of lading for truckers. But she also got to know several drivers.
"I really liked the whole trucker vibe. They reminded me of my Montana relatives who I always called my ‘cowboy relatives.’ They spoke less often, but when they did there was a certain drama about it."
One driver in particular, Wilder recalls, was a great storyteller and one day told her a ghost story she wouldn’t ever forget.
She spent a few months tracking him down so he could retell it for her book. Recently, she got in touch with the trucker’s wife, who told Annie he died four years ago.
"I’m still going to dedicate this book to him because he sort of started the idea."
The book is likely to be published in 2011; and Wilder says that a production company that has shows on two specialty TV channels is interested in producing a pilot episode based on the book, which could eventually be shopped around to some networks.
Drivers who have an eerie over-the-road experience to share for the book can visit the project’s Facebook page at or email email@example.com.