This listing was published in The Abandoned magazine’s May, 2014 premiere issue.
Tappan, OH (Franklin) – (1837 – 1938 farming, mill, & post office town submerged by Lake Tappan during the Muskingum Conservancy Project)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Franklin Township, Harrison County – On US 250 south of the intersection with Mill Hill Rd (Local Hwy 215)
Tappan was platted on March 4, 1837 by John Marshall (1787 – 1877) who was a business man & immigrant from Ireland. He never lived in Tappan though & died in Hancock County. The town was originally called Franklin, named after the township, but it had to be changed when the post office was established in 1840 because there was already another Franklin post office in Ohio. It was renamed Tappan after Benjamin Tappan who was a Harrison County judge from 1816 – 1823 & then a U.S. Senator from 1839 – 1845. Tappan only had 4 families in 1840, but quickly grew to its peak population of 171 in 1860. It was simply considered to be a post office town by the state, but in 1875 Tappan also had a steam powered grist & saw mill, hotel, a school, blacksmith, shoe shop, tannery, a doctor, two general stores, & two churches, as well as around 50 houses for the residents.
In 1933 leaders of the Muskingum River Concervancy Project decided that a dam should be built on Little Stillwater Creek that ran through town. Construction began in 1935 & was completed in 1938. The residents of Tappan were paid small amounts of money to move, & some didn’t have enough time or funds to move all of their belongings before the town met its watery demise & was submerged by Lake Tappan in 1938. A couple of other nearby towns were also submerged, including Laceyville & another town that was founded by freed slaves who traveled north after the Civil War.
Today, Lake Tappan is a nice place to visit for a day trip or while on vacation, but it’s sad that the town was considered to be expendable while larger towns that had railroads on the north & south sides of the lake were spared. Tappan wasn’t expendable to the residents that lived there. It was where their homes & lives were. Tappan Cemetery was said to have been moved just north of the lake on Mill Hill Rd (Local Hwy 215), but findagrave.com only has one know interment listed there. We suspect scores of residents are still buried in the old Tappan Cemetery beneath the waters of Lake Tappan, as the town existed for over a hundred years. People who scuba dive in the lake these days say it’s an extremely eerie experience & you can’t go very far without almost running into a house, mailbox, tractor, barn, & other buildings.
The Muskingum River Conservancy District still owns the lake & surrounding land. There’s a historical marker for the town on the Tappan – Monrovian Trails Scenic Byway (US 250) in a parking lot just south of the intersection of Mill Hill Rd & another one for Laceyville on US 250 near the southeast side of the lake. There are also a few old homestead foundations & remnants from the former towns in the woods around the lake. Tappan is like the Atlantis of Ohio, & despite being underwater, might be one of the most well preserved ghost towns in the state.
Thanks to Lori Kline for providing the lead on Tappan! Her stepfather was born there in his boyhood home in January, 1928 during a bad snow storm. His family had to wait until the weather & roads cleared up two weeks later to get to the nearest hospital.