Cleveland is a cultural hub, a blend of influences and ideas that have created a one-of-a-kind community. Like many communities, we have our own local lore. Haunted cemeteries, creepy abandoned places, and even everyday residences have been rumored to hide a phantom or two, perhaps because the spectral residents aren’t ready to leave Greater Cleveland just yet. And who can blame them?! The city is beautiful, cultural, and in a constant state of evolution and expansion. Yet, to some residents, Cleveland is a terrifyingly haunted location.
1. Cleveland's abandoned subway system beneath the Detroit-Superior Bridge.
In 1917, Cleveland opened the Detroit-Superior Bridge to traffic. What was also open was its subterranean streetcar complex, a passageway that remained in use until 1954. By 1930, the bridge was considered to be the busiest in the nation. Occasionally it opens to the public, and tourists describe the space as spooky. For a video of the site's exploration, click
2. The Old Tavern on Route 84 in Unionville.
As the first tavern in the state, this eerie building has a long history. It begins in 1798, the building (which was actually two separate buildings at the time) operated as an inn known as the Webster House. Over the years the two edifices were combined into one impressive structure that operated as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Today, many believe that the site is haunted by the ghosts of former slaves that wander the grounds and tunnels of this historic tavern.
3. The hauntings of Gore Orphanage Road.
Every Northeast Ohioan has heard the tales of Gore Orphanage, a reputedly awful place where orphans were abused and, eventually, burned in a fire. Sometimes the truth is scarier than legend. Gore Orphanage was nicknamed as such after a geological feature: gore meaning a small (typically triangular) patch of land. Off of this creepy road is the site of the Swift Mansion, which served as the Light of Hope Orphanage. Yet when the orphanage burned, there was no evidence of any human casualties. Why then do visitors report seeing spectral children around the area? Paranormal experts believe the activity is due to the Wilbur family, former occupants of the Swift Mansion, who lost four children in a local diphtheria epidemic and conducted regular séances. Though nobody knows who the Gore Orphanage Road spirits are, sightings are abundant. Drive through the area and see if any ghostly children come out to play.
4. Richfield's Farnam Manor.
This stunning residence was constructed for Everett Farnam and his wife Emil in 1834. The land they built on has a history that dates back much further, encompassing tales of both Native Americans and soldiers of the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The manor house saw a multitude of tragedies, beginning with the drowning of Farnam's daughter and spanning through the 1970's, when the owner of the Smorgasbord Restaurant died in the home and never left. Today the building operates as a museum, but you can try your hand at a ghost hunt, as the employees know that Farnam Manor is perhaps the most haunted structure in the region.
5. The spooky subterranean complex beneath the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument.
Public Square's iconic monument sits above a passageway filled with paranormal activity. The tunnels were largely used for storage, and they also served as an emergency fallout shelter during the Cold War. The brick passageways are unsettlingly dark, built of exposed brick that seems to anchor former Clevelanders to their beloved city. This haunted tunnel is a hotbed of paranormal activity, including disembodied voices and the appearance of apparitions.
6. Helltown, the affectionate name for the Peninsula/Boston Township area.
Boston Township is comprised of the villages of Peninsula and Boston Heights. Its history is full of lore that some locals swear is true, and others wholeheartedly reject. In 1974, the National Park Service obtained the ability to expropriate land to establish national parks. They turned their attention to Boston Township where they began seizing property, forcing residents out of their long-time homes. The hasty evacuation and untouched abandoned houses spurred rumors of a of a chemical spill cover-up, and some reported sightings of a giant mutated snake which is now nicknamed the "Peninsula Python." Other reports of hauntings center around a cemetery, a road to nowhere, a few crybaby bridge sites, and a reportedly evil church. While the
seems too spectacular to be true, rumors and lore continue to circulate today.
7. Erie Street Cemetery, which spreads its ghostly influence all across East 9th Street.
Erie Street Cemetery is a nine acre plot and home to 17,000 interments. When it was established in 1826, it was built at the edge of Cleveland. Today it sits across the street from Progressive Field, surrounded by bustling streets and busy living souls. The dead, it seems, have kept busy as well. Joc-O-Sot, a Sauk Chief who fought in the Black Hawk wars against the United States in the 1830's, is resting in the cemetery, much to his chagrin. He had hoped to die and be laid to rest in his homeland of Minnesota, but he didn't make it that far. He haunts the cemetery, upset at his displacement and his proximity to Progressive Field, where his spirit is said to express discontent over Chief Wahoo. Many other ghosts are said to haunt the area, including victims from the 1850 Griffith Steamship Fire, considered to be the largest loss of life on Lake Erie.
8. Franklin Castle, Ohio City's most spine-tingling destination.
Franklin Castle has a reputation of being haunted. Built in 1881 by Hannes Tiedemann, the stunning structure hearkens back to the splendor of European royal castles. Several confirmed deaths took place within the castle, including Tiedemann's wife, Louise, and a few children whose lives were cut tragically short. A partial skeleton was purportedly found in the home, fueling rumors of murder and stirring up local accusations of hauntings. Many locals claim that the home enjoyed several incarnations, including a short life as a speakeasy. Passersby are said to have encountered orbs and shadows on the property, which is currently being restored to its former glory.
9. The spooky interior of the USS Cod.
Anchored at Cleveland's shore is a decommissioned WWII submarine with a haunted history. One individual, Andrew Johnson, spent his final days on this vessel, and he is thought to be spending his afterlife on deck. Visitors report disembodied footsteps and the appearance of strange figures in photographs. Workers aboard the ship report the ghostly triggering of alarms. Cleveland's very own submarine seems to be the final resting place of Andrew Johnson, but perhaps some of his peers have decided to hang around, as well.
10. Landoll's Mohican Castle, the modern edifice that is straight out of 12th century England.
Landoll's Mohican Castle is located in Loudonville, a stunning community halfway between Cleveland and Columbus. The property has a history that dates back to the early 1800's, and has earned a haunted reputation. On the site of the castle is the remains of Heyd cemetery, where many early pioneers were buried. Due to the history of the property, Landoll's Mohican Castle is purportedly haunted. The site actually offers ghost tours, which visit the cemetery and other points of interest, like Haunted Cottage 13, a stone cottage built in the late 1800's that is said to be haunted by a former resident. If you are brave enough to spend the night, this stunning castle is beautiful, modern, and unique in so many ways.
Here in Cleveland, things go bump in the night far more often than you’d like to think. With such a long and complicated history, it is no wonder that a few spirits continue to linger. Have you ever experienced a paranormal encounter in Northeast Ohio? Tell us about it, and share any spectral images you have captured in the comments!
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.