|This article does not cite any references or sources. (September 2008)|
The Belchen Tunnel is a motorway tunnel in Switzerland, and forms part of the A2 motorway from Basel to Chiasso. It is 3.2 km long, and lies in the northern (slightly northwestern) part of Switzerland. It links Eptingen in the canton of Basel-Country with Hägendorf in the Canton of Solothurn. The tunnel was built in the mid-1960s. It was completely renovated in 2003.
The "white woman" – an urban legend
January 1981, a modern myth circulated, dealing with a "white woman" ("weisse Frau") of the Bölchentunnel ("Bölchen" is local dialect for "Belchen"). Shaped as an old white-clothed hitchhiking woman, a ghost (though not initially recognized as such) appears out of nowhere in front of the drivers and sometimes even speaks to them.
The first known Belchen ghost was actually male. The first written reports of the phenomenon (dated June 1980) are about a male hitchhiker who was picked up but, despite the driver's high rate of speed, after some time had passed, the person was no longer in the car.
Towards the end of that year, the "white woman" began appearing in or outside the tunnel. On January 6, 1981, the tabloid Blick wrote about the sightings, followed by other media also adopting the story. Basel Police received many phone calls, dozens of which had to be logged.
The "Bölchengespenst" (Bölchen ghost) became a popular subject for 1981's Shrove Tuesday carnival. Even the musicians of the Oberbaselbieter Ländlerkapelle treated the legend. Later, the discussion cooled down - until the 1983 edition of the book Baselbieter Sagen reported further strange sightings of the white woman. There were two female jurists who picked up an inconspicuously dressed, clumsy, pale, middle-aged woman in Eptingen. When later asked if she felt better, she answered "No, unfortunately not. I am not well at all (or "It isn't going [at all] well (for me)" from the German "Es geht (mir) [gar] nicht gut."). Something really awful is going to happen, something very dreadful!" (Swiss-German: "Nei, leider nid. Es goht gar nid guet. Es passiert öppis Schrecklichs, öppis ganz Furchtbars!") When the two jurists next looked at the backseat, the woman had disappeared.
Such visitations don't only happen inside or around tunnels. A re-edited edition of the Baselbieter Sagen mentions similar cases at other Basel places: "the Heidegg castle's lady," "the maiden on the goat," and "the grey woman in Zunzgen." In Läufelfingen, the woman wears a green loden coat. In the Canton of Bern, a girl in a short leather jacket appears. In the area of Basel, as with the case in Tenniken, a man wearing black is seen. The man prophesizes an earthquake and a hard winter before disappearing. The mysterious hitchhikers can even disappear if the car has only front doors and no back doors.
A 1981 article in the magazine Schweizer Volkskunde describes analogous visitations. According to it, such "modern ghosts of the road" were seen in other Swiss Cantons and tunnels, such as the Luzernerland area and in Toggenburg.
- "Plötzlich war die Frau weg, fort, einfach nicht mehr da" Volksstimme, 25 January 2001 (German)