Charlie No-Face: The True Story

Children living in the Pittsburgh, PA, area tell tales of Charlie No-Face, sometimes known also as the Green Man. The story says that long ago, Charlie was a utilities worker that became disfigured in a horrible accident. Some versions of the legend say it was an explosion of acid, some say it was an electric power line, and some say it was a sudden burst of fire. In many of these versions, the accident had mysteriously turned his skin a ghastly green, which is why they called him the Green Man. But, in every single variation of the tale, Charlie's face had been melted off.

The stories state that when he grew older, he hid in an abandoned house and would wander around in dark and foreboding places like the old railway access tunnel in the South Park Township, often referred to as the Green Man Tunnel. For years, local teens would drive into the tunnel, awaiting sightings of Charlie No-Face. Many say they have felt an electrical charge from his presence and had problems getting their car to start back up after calling out to him. Others have claimed to see his glowing green form, like a slowly approaching ghost in the tunnel or along rural roads at night, that his spirit chases broken-down motorists or those who dare park on the side of the road.

As it turns out, there is a tragic truth behind this creepy urban legend. Charlie No-Face was actually a man named Raymond Robinson. Back in 1919, when he was only 9 years old, Robinson and his friends were playing around Morado Bridge, outside of Beaver Falls, PA. The bridge carried a trolley and had active electrical lines, which had killed another boy less than a year earlier. Robinson climbed a pole and was reaching for a bird's nest when he touched an electrical line, causing him to be electrocuted. His nose was burnt off, one of his arms and both of his eyes were scorched, and one of his hands was blown clean off; but somehow, he survived.

For most of his remaining childhood, Robinson was isolated and ostracized, even by his own family. He made the best of it, spending his days in a small apartment in his family’s garage, making doormats, wallets, and belts to sell. The accident disfigured him so badly that he did not go out in public very often for fear of creating a panic, so he went for long walks at night on a quiet stretch of State Route 351, feeling his way along with a walking stick. Although he walked alone and his disfigurement would easily alarm people, Robinson was reported to have been friendly and was willing to socialize a bit when stopped by friendly passersby. He was easy to make friends with, if you offered him a beer or some cigarettes. Through several generations, Robinson's story has been passed on so many times that his name and his real history have been overshadowed by the ghost story that grew out of them.