Urban legends can get out of hand. They often start with a small amount of true information and slowly grow into bizarre stories that mostly aren’t true—but are often super creepy. From small town Utopia attempts to lurking lizard men, here are 10 of the wildest local legends to ever come out of Ohio.
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1. 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.
2. 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.
3. The legend of Gore Orphanage
If you’ve ever heard of Gore Orphanage Rd. and rumors of an actual orphanage in the area of Vermilion, Ohio, you’re not alone. The popular urban legend is based on an orphanage that once existed in the area called Light of Hope Orphanage, which closed its doors in the early 1900s. Legend has it, the orphanage burned down after a mysterious fire. Details of the story vary and the facts themselves are unclear, however, strange noises and ghost sightings in the area leave room for speculation about what actually happened along Gore Orphanage Rd.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Utopia plans
Once upon a time, this small unincorporated Ohio community was one of the "phalanxes" (or social communes) established in America in the mid-19th century. Today, it's pretty close to being a ghost town—complete with a creepy, underground chapel.
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 Moonville Tunnel
Little remains of the abandoned coal mining town of Moonville 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. Today, this historic tunnel is a popular hiking destination.
9. 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.
10. 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. Recent speculation suggests the Butcher may have traveled west and was also the murderer of Elizabeth Short, of the "Black Dahlia Murder Case.
Have you heard any of these legends before? What other legends would you add to this list? Share your thoughts with us!