Ohio is a strange, strange place. You’ve likely heard a “crybaby bridge” legend or two, but what do you know about Rogues Hollow? Or how about Eugene the Mummy? The following are 14 creepy pieces of Ohio history, many of which have been laced with folklore throughout the years—but some of which are based on facts that are truly stranger than fiction.
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1. The history of Utopia
Once upon a time, this small unincorporated community was one of the "phalanxes" (or social communes) established in America in the mid-19th century. Utopia was founded in 1844 by Charles Fourier, a Frenchman who believed that the world was about to enter a 35,000-year period of peace. While the utopian society idea of the town failed, a spiritual group still held secret services in the town's underground chapel. Today, 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.
2. The Butcher of Kingsbury Run
Also known as the "Cleveland Torso Murderer," this unidentified serial killer murdered and dismembered at least twelve victims from among the homeless in Cleveland—many of whom remain unidentified to this day. (Pictured is the first victim to be identified.) Recent speculation suggests the Butcher may have traveled west and was also the murderer of Elizabeth Short, of the Black Dahlia Murder Case.
3. The Circleville Letter Writer
The small town of Circleville and the people of Pickaway County began to encounter what some might call a real-life-A-from-"Pretty-Little-Liars"-experience in the late 70s when thousands of individuals started receiving personal, mysterious letters about their lives. The letters were written in block style and contained vindictive, violent and vulgar material. One of the letter recipient's husband was murdered, which was believed to be connected to the letters, and the letters continued even after a suspect was placed in prison. The letters continued to arrive in residents' mailboxes—both city officials and average citizens alike— until the late 90s. The writer was never revealed.
4. The legend of Moonville
The abandoned coal mining town of Moonville in southeastern Ohio (Vinton County) was founded in 1856, when the Marietta and Cincinnati railroad ran through the area's woods. One structure of the town that remains today is the Moonville Tunnel; a haunted tunnel where legend has it the ghost of a man who was killed instantly by a train passing through the tunnel wanders along the track bed near the old tunnel at night. Today, this historic tunnel is a popular hiking destination.
5. Eugene the Mummy
The small town of Sabina, known as "The Eden of Ohio," was once home to "Eugene the Mummy," an unidentified dead man who became an unusual roadside attraction—and was displayed in the town for more than 36 years. People came from all over the country to see him, but he was never identified. Today, Eugene rests in a grave in the town’s cemetery. The headstone reads: "Eugene, Found Dead: 1928, Buried: 1964."
6. The history of Rogues Hollow
From tales of a haunted mill and a crybaby bridge to a shaking graveyard and a headless horseman, Rogues Hollow is one of Ohio’s most haunted areas. It’s Ohio’s very own version of "Sleepy Hollow" and most Ohioans don’t even know it exists. Like many rural areas and small towns in Ohio, Rogues Hollow was once a thriving coal mining village near the modern day town of Doylestown, Ohio. Rogues Hollow was actually once a place notorious for outlaws and gangsters to hide out. Shoot-outs and robberies were common here. And these continued until the early 20th-century. In spite of the town's crooked reality and the peculiar tales, creepy things continue to happen here. Sounds of a crying baby at night, shaking grounds at the graveyard and ghost sightings continue to haunt the hollow and the visitors that dare to explore.
7. The legend of "Hell Town"
The once thriving small town of Boston Mills eventually turned into a ghost town. Today, some people claim that the government actually closed the town after some sort of chemical accident that caused the citizens to mutate—and some people claim to have actually seen disfigured, mutated people still hiding in the area. In reality, the historic town of Boston Mills was acquired by the U.S. government to make way for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
8. The hauntings of Waynesville
Within Wayne Township in Warren Country, you’ll find the village Waynesville. It’s a quaint, historic town with a population of approximately 2,834—but it’s rumored to have more than 30 haunted places. This seemingly normal small town was actually deemed "the most haunted village in Ohio" by author Chris Woodyard' of the popular "Haunted Ohio" books.
9. The Lizard Man
Along the Miami River, near Loveland, legend has it that there lurks a man who looks a lot like a lizard—or a lizard who looks a lot like a man, depending on how you look at it, of course. In the 1970s, local residents and policemen reported sightings of a strange lizard or frog-like man. Throughout the years, occasional sightings along the river have been reported.
10. The legend of Elizabeth's grave
April Dray/Only In Your State
This infamous legend starts at Mount Union-Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Chillicothe. The off-the-beaten-path, rural cemetery is home to the chilling "Elizabeth's grave." Few people take this road less traveled, unless they are in search of this particular grave's headstone, which supposedly moves itself to the front of the cemetery after visitors move it to the back. (There is also some dispute about which headstone is the legendary "Elizabeth's grave," which is often spelled as "Elisabeth." There are two Liz's in the cemetery with detached headstones, one of which is pictured above.) Regardless, Elizabeth is said to haunt the cemetery because she hung herself from a tree in the area—and is likely unhappy with visitors moving her headstone.
11. The legend of Gore Orphanage
This legend starts and ends with Gore Orphanage Road. According to Weird Ohio, there once was an orphanage along this road in Vermilion, Ohio 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. Today, brave explorers have reported distant screams of children in the area, as well as children's hand prints mysteriously appearing on their cars.
12. The Center of the World plans
Did you know the center of the world is actually right here in Ohio? Well, kind of. Actually, Ohio is just home to a small community named Center of the World, which most people don’t know about. It was once planned to make the community a significant economic center. Today, it's just a humble little town founded on a bizarre legend.
13. The deadly history of Ohio's "Witches Tower"
If you love exploring all things abandoned and haunted in Ohio, you may have heard about a "Witches Tower" hiding in a forest near Dayton, Ohio. (Or even a "Frankenstein’s Tower.") But the true story behind this curious structure has changed over time. More commonly known as the Lookout Tower in Hills and Dales Metro Park, this castle-like structure in Kettering has been the subject of numerous urban legends throughout the years. And while it’s certainly not a "Witches Tower," it does have a deadly history. The real story involves the tragic death of Peggy Harmeson. In May of 1967, 16-year-old Peggy and her boyfriend sought shelter in the tower during a storm. Lightning struck the tower, killing Peggy and leaving her boyfriend badly burned.
14. The legend of Walhalla Road
Ohio is full of haunted streets that have become the centerpieces of local legends, but there’s one in central Ohio that’s probably the creepiest. Within a unique geographical niche in north Columbus winds Walhalla Road, where it is said that at night passerby are haunted by a man who killed his wife and children before committing suicide beneath the road’s bridge. The legends of this infamous road may vary—but the hauntings remain.
Were you familiar with any of these unusual pieces of Ohio history or creepy legends? What else would you add to this list? Share your thoughts and experiences with us!