Released on October 1, 2018 by Fonthill Media & Arcadia Publishing, “Abandoned Ohio” is packed with history & ideas for road trips. It also makes an awesome birthday or Christmas gift!
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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 along the old railroad path that crosses Hope – Moonville Rd
Moonville has been the most talked about & most popular ghost town in the state for a while now. Some visitors make a yearly pilgrimage to the site & are awed every time by standing in front of & walking through the nearly completely intact abandoned railroad tunnel that once had speeding trains rolling through it. The tunnel sits on the old railroad track bed heading East from Hope Moonville Rd. A new wood bridge crossing Raccoon Creek, where the train trestle had been torn out, was constructed in 2016 with funds acquired from the state & raised by the Moonville Rail Trail Association. They hope to build more bridges along the rail trail & reconnect the nearby ghost towns of Ingham & Kings Station further east on the same railroad line.
Samuel Coe (1813 – 1883) donated land for a train station on the Marietta – Cincinnati Railroad (later bought by the B&O) in 1856, 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, the railroad tracks were the only way in & out of town.There are 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 brakeman 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 local 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 SR 278.
Moonville was doing well up through the 1880s, but a bad smallpox epidemic in the 1890s lead to a major population decrease & all the mines shut down over the next couple of decades. There wasn’t many residents by the 1920s & 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 1970s, 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 are also several electric poles that once powered the town & other remnants along the railroad path.
Boston Mills, OH (Helltown) – (1806 – 1974 mill & railroad town acquired by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Boston Township, Summit County – On Boston Mills Rd at the intersection of Main St
Boston Mills was settled by surveyors from Connecticut in 1806 who built a cabin on the grounds of what is now the Boston Cemetery. It was originally in Portage County & the township was named Boston after Boston, Massachusetts. The village also got the same name as it was the first in the township. There were several mills in the area including saw mills & paper mills operated by the Cleveland – Akron Bag Company. A post office was organized in 1825 but was discontinued later that year. It reopened in 1832 & ran until 1861.
Boston Mills grew with the introduction of the Ohio & Erie Canal in 1827. On top of the mills, the town also had a warehouse, two stores, a hotel, school, blacksmith shop, broom factory, & several businesses that dealt in building boats for the canal. After the canal was abandoned, Boston Mills got a train station on the Valley Railroad which kept the town thriving for many more decades.
There are a few stories of haunted places around the town. Boston Cemetery at the end of Main St is said to be haunted, as well as the “Crybaby Bride” on Boston Mills Rd that leads into town, & several other old buildings around the area. There are also stories about the Krejci Dump on Hines Hill Rd containing toxic substances & a government cover-up to stamp down the rumor. It was intensified in 1974 when Boston Mills was designated a national recreation area. Some of the remaining residents were forced out by eminent domain & their houses were demolished as the town became part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. An urban legend of a giant snake from the reportedly toxic dump roaming around sometimes keeps people out of the woods, plus stories of local groups of cults & satanists who don’t want people to know what they’re doing back there. The “End Of The World” is the name given to the spot where a portion of Stanford Rd abruptly ends & is closed off from traffic.
Today there are still a lot of historical buildings remaining like the Boston Township Hall that was built in 1887, the Boston Community Church at the corner of Boston Mills Rd & Hines Hill Rd, & the Boston Mill Station that is still in use by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad which operates train rides for local tourism. The Boston Mill Store is a visitors center & the M.D. Garage on Boston Mills Rd is restored & houses historical exhibits. There are also some abandoned & reportedly haunted houses around town. The Boston Mills Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.