Ohio has a pretty creepy past.
From chilling, unsolved mysteries to unsettling graveyards, there’s something that haunts nearly every city in the state. The following are what we consider to be some of the creepiest places, people and legends to ever come out of Ohio. Read on, (if you dare.)
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The Ohio State Reformatory (Mansfield)
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 other events.
2. The Butcher of Kingsbury Run ("Cleveland Torso Murderer")
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. Recent speculation suggests the Butcher may have traveled west and was also the murderer of Elizabeth Short, of the "Black Dahlia Murder Case.
3. Lakeview Cemetery (Cleveland)
This cemetery is home to more than 100,000 graves and occupies 285 acres. Many notable individuals are buried here, including John D. Rockefeller, James A. Garfield and Eliot Ness (who modernized Cleveland's police force but was unable to catch the infamous "Cleveland Torso Murderer.") The Haserot Angel (pictured) is a famous statue in the graveyard for its eerie representation of "The Angel of Death Victorious."
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. The campus of Ohio University (Athens)
Ohio University is arguably one of America's most haunted college campuses, (probably because it's located in one of Ohio's most haunted cities.) Several residence hall rooms and other buildings on campus are said to be haunted. Wilson Hall, Washington Hall and Jefferson Hall are some of the most haunted buildings on campus.
7. The Ridges (Athens)
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.
8. 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.
9. Hotel Lafayette (Marietta)
Ohio's oldest town is bound to host a haunted hotel or two. At Hotel Lafayette, 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. It is arguably the most haunted hotel in Ohio.
10. The abandoned Chippewa Lake Amusement Park
Tucked away in Medina County there’s a rusted, long forgotten ferris wheel. What what was once Chippewa Lake 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. Today, remnants of it creepily stand abandoned, rusted and long forgotten. (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.)
11. The town 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.
12. Moonville (McArthur)
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.
13. Franklin Castle (Cleveland)
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.
14. 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.”
15. The legend of "Hell Town"
The area known as "Hell Town" today was once known as Boston Mills, before the town was bought out by the U.S. government to make way for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The once thriving town 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. Legend has it, there is also a decaying church with an upside down cross within the abandoned town that was once (and possibly still) used for satanic worship.
What other scary legends and locations are there in Ohio? Have you ever had any ghostly encounters at any of the places listed? Share your thoughts and experiences with us!