Ohio has a dark and somewhat disturbing side. From former asylums and prisons to haunted cemeteries and railroad tunnels, there’s seemingly something creepy at every turn.
If you’re into exploring the haunted, long-forgotten parts of our state, then this article is for you. We’ve compiled a list of the most disturbing places in the Buckeye State—and the stories behind them are downright bone-chilling.
(For more information about each location, simply click on the link after the number.)
Ohio State Reformatory
Formerly known as the Mansfield Reformatory, this historic prison is home to the state's most violent ghosts. Spirits of rioting inmates who often fought each other to the death in overcrowded isolation cells haunt the halls and cells of this former prison. Visitors can explore the reformatory via formal tours, ghost hunts and The Haunted Prison Experience in October.
Little remains of the abandoned coal mining town of Moonville in Vinton County except for a few foundations, a nearby cemetery and an old railroad tunnel—a tunnel supposedly haunted by ghosts of locals who died from being struck by passing trains.
If you’ve ever heard of a place called Utopia in Ohio you should know that it does in fact exist—and it has a strange and unusual history. While Utopia, Ohio isn’t technically a ghost town, it’s pretty close. Along the banks of the Ohio River in Clermont County, you’ll find what some consider to be a ghost town, although the town is still home to some residents. Once upon a time, the small unincorporated community was one of the "phalanxes" (or social communes) established in America in the mid-19th century. Today, it's home to a gas station, a few houses and an eerie underground chapel that may have been used as part of the Underground Railroad.
With one of the oldest, most haunted universities in the United States, a former insane asylum and a pentagram of cemeteries throughout the city, Athens, Ohio is arguably the most haunted city in the entire state. Countless ghost stories originate here.
What was once the Athens Lunatic Asylum is now owned by (and a neighbor to) Ohio University, but parts of the facility still hold shadows, stains and spirits of former mental patients who often suffered from violent treatments such as lobotomies. The grounds of the former asylum are still home to a few unusual—and extremely eerie—cemeteries. Patients of the former insane asylum were buried on the facility's grounds, and their restless spirits are left to wander to property. Most of the graves are without names, and merely display the number of the former mental patient buried beneath.
You can observe Ohio's most haunted house from the outside, (which is unfortunately not open to public tours at this time.) Partly hidden behind trees at 4308 Franklin Boulevard in downtown Cleveland, the recently renovated and infamous Franklin Castle (also known as the Hannes Tiedemann House) still houses a dark past. Built in the late 1880s for German immigrant Hannes Tiedemann, the historic home still stands four stories high with more than 20 rooms. The house is full of secret passageways and hidden rooms, and has seen its fair share of death and tragedies.
Lima Tuberculosis Hospital
Hidden behind a small neighborhood on Lima’s far west side sits the abandoned Lima Tuberculosis Hospital—a structure nature is steadily reclaiming. The hospital first opened in 1911, and it was one of the first in the state dedicated to the treatment of patients diagnosed with Tuberculosis. The hospital closed in the 1970s, and has since been abandoned for more than 40 years. Today, the building is rumored to be haunted by patients who died there. Ghost hunters and other urban explorers claim that ghosts of patients past wander the halls and hospital grounds at night.
Ohio's oldest town is bound to host a haunted hotel or two. At Hotel Lafayette in Marietta, guests have reported unexplained oddities for years. Missing items, suitcases turned upside-down and emptied shampoo bottles are just a few of the reported occurrences. The third floor is also supposedly haunted by a former owner of the hotel.
Chippewa Lake Park
Tucked away in Medina County there’s a rusted, long forgotten ferris wheel. What what was once Chippewa Lake Amusement Park is now just a few piles of amusement park ruins and the lone ferris wheel. From 1878 to 1978, the amusement park was a popular, thriving destination for family entrainment. (If you think this abandoned amusement park would have been the perfect location for a horror film, you’re exactly right. In 2008, a cast and crew from Los Angeles filmed “Closed for the Season" here.)
Gore Orphanage Road
This legend starts and ends with Gore Orphanage Road in Vermillion, Ohio. According to Weird Ohio, there once was an orphanage along this road in the late 1800s. Supposedly, a mysterious fire burned down the orphanage and Old Man Gore lost his license to run an orphanage, so a new orphanage was never built. Brave explorers have reported distant screams of children in the area, as well as children's hand prints mysteriously appearing on their cars. Ghostly encounters have even been reported at the nearby North Ridge Road bridge, which spans over the Vermilion River.
What other disturbing places are there in Ohio? Have you been to any of the places we mentioned? Let us know your thoughts and experiences!