Moonville, OH - (1856 - 1947 coal mining & railroad town abandoned when mines shut down)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Brown Township, Vinton County - In Zaleski State Forest on hiking trails off of Hope - Moonville Rd.
Moonville has been the most popular ghost town in state for a while now. Some visitors make a yearly pilgrimage to the site & are awed every time by standing in the nearly completely intact abandoned railroad tunnel that once had speeding trains rolling through it. Moonville Tunnel is visible from Hope - Moonville Rd. on the other side of the torn out railroad trestle on Raccoon Creek (world's longest creek). The hiking trails start at the bottom of the hill next to a small road bridge crossing the creek.
In 1856 Samuel Coe (1813 - 1883) donated land for a train station on the Marietta - Cincinnati Railroad (later bought by the B&O) so he could move coal & clay off his property more easily to sell it. The town is always said to have been named after a Mr. Moon who operated a general store nearby. Unfortunately we were unable to locate any genealogy records on him. There was also a school run by Addie & Martie Coe, a tavern, hotel, & several residences that were scattered around the woods. The official population was never much more than 100 residents, even during it's boom days, but many of the miners & railroad workers commuted from surrounding towns & travelers would sometimes stay for a night if the train they were on stopped at the station.
With no roads going through the rough terrain & densely forested area so the railroad tracks were the only way in & out of town.There's several confirmed deaths of people getting hit by trains, jumping off of the trestle as one approached, & jumping off the trains at certain points like where their houses were if they weren't scheduled to stop at the station. There were also a deaths inside the tunnel. One of them was a brakesman that got crushed between train cars & a few people that got hit while walking home. David "Baldy" Keeton (1821 - 1886) who was always described as being a bully is said to haunt the front of Moonville Tunnel. He got into a bar brawl one night at the tavern that was on top of the right side of the tunnel hill. Baldy was found dead on the railroad tracks the next day & reportedly throws pebbles at people from the top of the front tunnel entrance to let them know he's there. David is buried in Keeton Cemetery in Lake Hope State Park off of Rt. 278.
Moonville was doing well up through the 1880's but a bad smallpox epidemic in the 1890's lead to a major population decrease & all of the mines shut down over the next couple of decades. There wasn't many residents by the 1920's & the last family left in 1947. From the railroad path on Hope - Moonville Rd. the town was in the opposite direction of the trestle, about 500 yards from the tunnel & past the next creek crossing. Portions of old buildings & one of the train yards were still intact up until around the 1970's but all have since disappeared.
The road to Moonville Cemetery is off of Hope - Moonville Rd. up a steep hill a few hundred feet from the old railroad track bed. Many of the Coe family members are buried there. The dug out foundation of their home is next to where the railroad bed crosses Hope - Moonville Rd. There's also several electric poles that once powered the town & other remnants along the railroad path.