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The Belchen Tunnel is a motorway tunnel in Switzerlandmarker, and forms part of the A2 motorway from Baselmarker to Chiassomarker. It is 3.2 km long, and lies in the northern (slightly northwestern) part of Switzerland. It links Eptingenmarker in the canton of Basel-Countrymarker with Hägendorfmarker in the Canton of Solothurnmarker. 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"). This phenomena is a paranormal event and mystery that has never been solved. 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 credentials about the phenomena (dated June 1980) are about a male hitchhiker who was picked up but, despite the high speed, after a while no longer sat in the backseat.

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 Eptingenmarker. 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.

Other variations

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 Zunzgenmarker." In Läufelfingenmarker, the woman wears a green loden coat, in the Canton of Bernmarker, a girl in a short leather jacket appears. In the area of Basel, as with the case in Tennikenmarker, 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.

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