In western Pennsylvania there are rumors of a ghost… a green specter haunting a lonely stretch of highway in Beaver County. Legend tells that this restless spirit will shut off perfectly working vehicles that cross his path and chase the unfortunate souls he has trapped. Through lucky circumstance, he has yet to actually lay hands on anyone he has encountered, but the fear and wariness of the roads he is said to haunt still remains, along with severely freaked out witnesses.
Descriptions of this ghost are surprisingly consistent. If the victims are unfortunate enough to catch a glimpse, they describe a semi-stooped figure with a horribly disfigured face and a green glow emanating from the ghost’s skin. Sometimes bright, glowing eyes are also mentioned, or smoke pouring out from its mouth.
Surrounding these relatively similar reports, however, are a wide variety of legends and theories as to the ghost’s origins. Some say it is not a ghost at all, but a radioactive monster or even an alien, which is not surprising given the name “Green Man”. The most widely-accepted legends revolve around an unfortunate coal-miner who suffered a horrible accident. In some cases it is a rockslide, in others some sort of flesh-eating acid. What is almost universally agreed upon is that whatever disfigured the Green Man killed him, leaving his spirit confused, disoriented, and maybe a little bit vengeful.
What this lore does not explain is why this spirit is haunting the road. Through some bizarre twist, the story has been passed around so many times that everyone retells it without truly thinking about what they are saying. A man was disfigured by a face-melting acid? Where does a road come in? He lost his life in a coal-mining accident? That doesn’t just happen in the middle of the street. So why? Why is he creeping around, spooking innocent travelers?
Some might point out that the main haunts of the Green Man are the eerie, abandoned railway tunnels near and around Beaver Falls, but the tunnels he has been reported in are many miles apart. Not to mention, a coal mine and a tunnel for trains are still massively different things. Sometimes rumors like this are disputed by most, but have a lot of evidence to back them. However, in this case, there are just too many holes in the lore.
Fortunately, there is a very crisp, clear explanation for the origin of the Green Man legend.
You see, there is another name for this spectral being. His other title is Charlie No-Face, and Charlie No-Face was, as a matter of fact, a real person.
Now, the word ‘was’ implies that he is no more, and one would be correct to assume so, because the subject of this very real story passed away in 1985, although for reasons not as gruesome as flesh-eating acid.
Charlie No-Face is actually nothing close to the real name of the man who brought about these myths. The real name of this real-life legend is Raymond Robinson, a man well-liked by his friends and neighbors throughout his long life. So how can such a pleasant fellow come to be known as Charlie No-Face, the wandering spook that terrorizes unwary travelers?
Well, it all started on a warm day in 1919. Raymond was eight years old, doing what young boys do and gamboling about with a group of friends. The group was crossing the Morado Bridge, a railway bridge, when one of the boys spotted a bird’s nest nestled above. Now, no more than a year before, another poor boy by the name of Robert had attempted the climb and fallen to his death, suffering a massive jolt of electricity from the transmission lines. The boys flouted the warnings taught to them by their parents and used typical child-like logic to goad one another into making the climb as well to see if there were any eggs in the nest.
Of course, the bravest and most reckless youngster in the group was Ray. While his friends got cold feet, he hoisted himself up and began the climb. He was exposed to the same electric jolt that little Robert had been done in by the year before. But the outcome for Raymond was much better…. or much worse, depending on how you see it. He was horribly disfigured, losing his eyes, nose, an ear, and an arm. Against all odds, he lived.
He continued to live his life as normally as he could, residing with his parents in Koppel, Pennsylvania. For money he would make things like wallets and belts to sell around town, although he would rarely venture out during the day. His appearance made him the source of much fear and curiosity, even though most of his neighbors treated him with great sympathy and kindness. He may have lost his sight, but he was not blind to the alarm he caused whenever he went out in public. Naturally, his solution was to take his fresh air at night, when everyone was sleeping. After all, it wasn’t like night and day were all that different to poor Raymond.
So he developed a nightly ritual, taking long walks down the relatively quiet Route 351. While his intention was to avoid attention, there were still a handful of people who would intentionally come out of their homes to gawk at him. And, of course, the non-locals he encountered on the road had no idea what in the world they were witnessing when they happened to cross paths.
Word spread of a mutilated specter roaming that stretch of road, and so Raymond’s fame spread throughout most of Pennsylvania. Despite the small crowds this attracted, he refused to revise his schedule and kept doggedly walking the road at night, even after being struck several times by passing cars. Sometimes he would even speak with those who came to watch, offering pictures in exchange for small things like beer or cigarettes. Yes, Raymond was a smoker, which no doubt spawned the stories of a ghostly figure breathing smoke from its mouth.
The ever-enduring title “Green Man” was given to him on account of the greenish hue his skin often took. Without the advanced medical care of today, sometimes Raymond’s face would become painful and infected, taking on a greenish coloration and adding to the overall frightfulness of his appearance.
As stated before, Raymond died in 1985 after living a long, eventful life. Though the source of a legend may pass, the legend lives on, however, and many Pennsylvanians still believe that there is a ghost roaming the lonely stretches of highway around Beaver County. And who’s to say they’re wrong? Perhaps that nightly walk he clung to so stubbornly in life has endured beyond the grave.
Most of the encounters people seem to have with the Green Man in present times seem to be told in a light-hearted tone. One couple who thought they might have come across him bashfully recounted their adventure to one of the sealed-off railway tunnels. Like a bunch of goofy teenagers, they dared one another to get closer and closer to the tunnel entrance, keeping in mind the stories they had heard of Green Man sightings in the area. As they approached, the sound of hurried footsteps emanated from the forest to their right, rocketing downhill at a startling speed. The couple was already jumpy, so this was the only excuse they needed to hightail it back to their car. They never saw anything, but they believe that the approaching steps sounded distinctly like a person.
All known stories are along this vein. Nothing is seen, but something is heard or a presence is felt. It could be that ol’ Raymond delights in making people jump a little bit… even after death.