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 Halloween 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 (world’s longest 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.
Egypt Valley, OH (Egypt) – (mid 1800s – late 1800s farming & railroad town abandoned when the land was bought for coal mining)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Kirkwood Township, Belmont County – On Salem Ridge Rd & Starkey Rd
It had a few residents as early as the first decade of the 1800s but didn’t become a town until the mid 1800s. Egypt Valley had a school, general store, a train station on the B & O Railroad, & post office from 1852 – 1857. The most popular locations these days are the two cemeteries, Salem & Old Egypt (Circle Cemetery) on Salem Ridge Rd, but there are also several decaying barns & houses in the area, a wood bridge, & remnants along the old railroad path.
Egypt Valley is well known for its ghost stories. Louiza Catharine Fox (1856 – 1869) was engaged to be married with the much older Thomas D. Carr (1846 – 1870), who was a Civil War veteran. They met through Alex Hunter, the owner of a local coal company who they both worked for. Thomas worked in the coal mines & Louiza was a servant in Alex’s house. The engagement between Thomas & Louiza was originally approved by her parents, but they changed their minds when they heard rumors around town about Thomas’s violent side. The marriage was called off & the rumors turned out to be true. He waited in the dark one night next to a road that Louiza used to walk home. She was with her little brother at the time, who Thomas told to go home so he could talk to Louiza. Instead of talking, Thomas kissed Louiza one last time & proceeded to slit her throat with a razor blade. Her little brother saw it happen from a distance & ran home to tell their parents. Thomas got arrested & was the first person hanged in Belmont County in 1870. Louiza is said to still haunt Salem Cemetery & can reportedly be seen or heard crying by her grave.
About a mile down the road from Salem Cemetery is the Old Egypt Cemetery which is said to be haunted by the ghost of a truck driver who died in a crash around there. He lost an arm that was never found & the sounds of fingernails tapping on gravestones can supposedly be heard in the cemetery at night. The Old Egypt Cemetery is also reportedly haunted by “devil” dogs that guard it & can be heard howling in the woods nearby at night.
Granville, OH (1805 – present farming, mill, railroad, & university town with numerous historical sites)
Classification: historic town
Location: Granville Township, Licking County – On SR 661 at the intersection of County Hwy 539
In 1804 residents from Granville & Granby, Massachusetts formed The Licking Company & purchased over 29,000 acres of land in Ohio. Around 150 or so of them arrived in Licking County in 1805 & immediately began platting the town with a total of 288 lots & plans for the community buildings that they would need.
In 1812 Orrin Granger (1788 – 1822) built a tavern & inn which also served as a stagecoach stop between Columbus & Newark. It was purchased in 1865 by Major Horton Buxton (1821 – 1902), a veteran of the Civil War. Major Buxton owned the inn until his death & it still carries his name to this day. Everyone from presidents & celebrities, to us common folk (haha!), have enjoyed the inn & drank in its downstairs tavern for over two centuries. The Buxton Inn is currently the longest continually operated hotel in Ohio.
One of the other famous owners was Ethel “Bonnie” Bounell (1888 – 1960) was a dancer, singer, & entertainer. She operated the inn from 1934 – 1960. Her cat named “Major”, after Major Buxton, is the cat on the inn’s roadside sign. It’s still said to appear around the inn by the workers & visitors. Ethel Bounell & Major Buxton are also reported to still hang out there. Ethel is referred to as “The Lady In Blue”, for often wandering around in a blue dress.
In 1972 Orville & Audrey Orr purchased The Buxton Inn after they heard it might be demolished. They restored the buildings over the last few decades & we had the privilege of speaking with Orville for a while, who we unexpectedly met in the restaurant room on the main floor. He was quietly sitting by himself reading the paper, & after greeting us in a friendly manner, Orville proceeded to tell us several of his own stories about the inn. It was an awesome experience & we give unending credit to Orville & Audrey for their love of The Buxton Inn & its history. It has since been sold & is under new management.
Granville had population booms with the building of Denison University in 1831, a large grain mill, & the railroad. Many of the 1800s buildings on the side streets & secondary roads in town survived & are now on the National Register Of Historic Places. The train station from the Toledo & Ohio Central Railroad was built in 1880. It has been restored & sits at 425 South Main St (SR 661). Granville’s mill is still in operation & runs a general store across from the train station.
The Granville Inn, across the road from The Buxton Inn, was completed in 1924 & is also reportedly haunted. Ohio Historical Marker #23 – 45 at the intersection of Broadway & Main St (SR 661 & County Hwy 539) tells the story of The Licking Company & early settlers. Another neat Ohio Historical Marker is #21 – 45 on South Main St next to The Old Colony Burying Ground where most of the early settlers of Granville were buried. The town is a great trip for anyone who would like to spend a few hours or even a day or two visiting many different historical locations.
The Buxton Inn website – https://www.buxtoninn.com/
Sprucevale, OH – (1835 – 1870 mill, farming, & canal town abandoned due to lack of economic opportunities)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Saint Clair Township, Columbiana County – On Sprucevale Rd about 3 miles north of Calcutta, OH
In 1835 the Hambleton brothers platted the town of Sprucevale around a small grist mill that they recently purchased. James Hambleton (1788 – 1869) operated the mill & served on the canal board. Charles Hambleton (1790 – 1864) ran the general store & post office. Benjamin Hambleton (1786 – 1869) had a saw mill, oil mill, & another general store. Issac Hambleton (1802 – 1895) managed a wool factory. The Sandy & Beaver Canal was built through town but was badly damaged when the local reservoir broke in 1852. It lost funding & maintenance as railroads in nearby towns had taken over the shipping industry. With no railroad & a dilapidated canal, Sprucevale’s days were numbered. The town had over a dozen homes & twenty families at one time, but everyone left by the end of 1870.
Canal lock #42, also known as Gretchen’s Lock, sits along the banks of Beaver Creek & is supposedly haunted by a girl named Gretchen Gill who died of malaria in Sprucevale. The bridge over Beaver Creek on Echo Dell Rd is said to be haunted by Esther Hale, a bride to be whose groom took off the day before the wedding. As the story goes, Esther was found dead in her home a few months later still wearing her wedding dress.
Echo Dell Rd in Beaver Creek State Park is also the site of Gaston’s Mill which has been restored & opened to the public along with a few other old buildings. The Hambleton’s Mill was restored in the 1970s & is an impressive sight to see on Sprucevale Rd just north of Beaver Creek. Ohio Historical Marker #10 – 15 is about 1/2 mile north of the mill. It marks the spot where gangster Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd met his demise in 1934 when he encountered a large group of federal agents & local police just 3 months after being declared “public enemy #1” by J. Edgar Hoover.
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.
Lucy Run, OH – (1806 – present farming town with no growth)
Classification: small town
Location: Batavia Township, Clermont County – On Lucy Run Cemetery Rd off of SR 132
Lucy Run was first settled by Charles Robinson (1763 – 1846) & his wife Asseneth (Martin) Robinson (1768 – 1835), who came to Ohio from New England in 1806. Charles was a farmer & built a church in 1808 that was later moved to Amelia, OH & became its Methodist church. Lucy Run also had a one room schoolhouse that sits next to the cemetery & is currently a private residence.
The area was named after Lucy Robinson who was either a daughter or niece of Charles & Asseneth. She was engaged to be married in 1806 or 1807 with a local man who had met another woman. He showed up at the Robinson cabin one day & told Lucy the bad news that he couldn’t marry her because he was in love with someone else. After he left, the distraught Lucy mounted a horse & rode after him in an attempt to change his mind, or maybe kick his ass. No one is certain about that. A bad storm was rolling through the area & Lucy fell off her horse into the swollen creek near her family’s cabin & drowned.
The creek was later named Lucy Run & the road still bears the name to this day. Lucy can supposedly be seen at night, running in a white gown from the creek to the cemetery or from the cemetery & across the creek to where the Robinson cabin was, looking for her estranged lover. It’s one of the most infamous ghost stories in Clermont County. Lucy was buried in an unmarked grave in the Robinson family Plot in Lucy Run Cemetery on Lucy Run Cemetery Rd. The town never grew to be more than a hamlet & is currently considered to be part of Amelia.
Haydenville, OH (1852 – present mining & company store town, the last company town in Ohio)
Classification: small town
Location: Green Township, Hocking County – On Haydenville Rd. off of U.S. Route 33
Peter Hayden (1806 – 1888) was a business man from New York who had recently moved to Columbus. He immediately set out to build his fortune in Ohio with the booming industries of the mid 1800’s. Peter founded the town of Haydenville in 1852 with big plans for its future. He had an iron furnace moved from Hanging Rock, OH by canal to Haydenville in 1856. The Haydenville Railroad Tunnel was also built that same year & is said to be haunted by some of the workers that died during it’s construction. It can be found on a trail that goes north out of the cemetery on Howard Rd.
The Hocking Canal provided easy access into town but when Haydenville got a train station on the Hocking Valley & Toledo Railroad, things began to move much faster. Peter Hayden also ran a foundry, bank, hardware store, & a the company store. The station was built in 1903 & currently sits abandoned on the tracks near Wandling Rd. The townspeople built a Methodist Church & a post office in 1870, a school, & also built most of their own houses. Hiring an outside contractor rarely happened. The Haydenville Mining & Manufacturing Co. was formed in 1882 engaging in brick & tile making. The town’s other main sources of income were the iron furnace & nearby clay, iron, & coal mines. It was a nice town but a tough life as the people that lived there basically worked for the town, purchased what they could from the company store, & didn’t get much more than that out of it. They also took a certain earned pride in that though, being part of a community that made the town their own.
Haydenville & it’s industries were hit hard by the Great Depression. The railroad tunnel was abandoned in 1957 & the company went out of business in 1965 giving Haydenville the distinction of being Ohio’s last company town. Haydenville’s historic district was listed on the National Register Of Historic Places in 1973. Ohio Historical Marker #4 – 37 at 1635 Haydenville Rd. tells much of the town’s story. Many of the early residents were buried in Haydenville Cemetery on Howard Rd.
Dent, OH (Challensville) – (1843 – present former farming town partially abandoned over time)
Classification: small town
Location: Green Township, Hamilton County – On Harrison Ave south of I-74 & US 52
Dent was originally called Challensville & was named after the town’s first preacher, Rev. James Challen (1802 – 1878). The first house in town was the Three Mile Hotel which some of the early farmers in the area used as their residence. The Challensville post office ran from 1843 – 1846. Charles Gustav Reemelin (1814 – 1896) was a German immigrant & a state senator who lived in the town & had its name changed to Dent after a large depression in the earth near his house & vineyards. In its early days, Dent had a church, school, several stores, & a few dozen residences along Harrison Pike. The population was around 100 in 1895 & the post office ran from 1846 – 1904 when the mail started going through Cincinnati.
The town’s biggest claim to fame is the Dent Schoolhouse which was built in 1894. It’s said to be haunted by the ghost of Charlie McFee, a former janitor, & the children he killed. Rumors of children disappearing in Dent began to circulate in 1942 but the story eventually lost its steam. However, in 1955 seven more children supposedly went missing & the parents began to speculate about the strange smell that would occasionally rise from the basement. The parents reportedly went down there & found the remains of a couple of dozen children hidden in the walls. Charlie the janitor was long gone, & although a reward was put out for his capture, he was never found or arrested. The school was closed shortly after that & has been converted into one of Ohio’s most popular haunted houses. It gets around 30,000 visitors every year during the Halloween season.
The Dent Schoolhouse website – https://frightsite.com/
Fallsville, OH – (1848 – 1893 farming & mill town slowly abandoned over time)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Penn Township, Highland County – On hiking trails off of Careytown Rd
Fallsville was founded by John Timberlake who built a stone house & a grist mill next to the impressive waterfall on Clear Creek. In 1825 Simon Clouser (1796 – 1881) & his wife Elizabeth (Duckwall) Clouser (1797 – 1875) purchased the land from Timberlake & moved into the house in 1826. Simon was a farmer & operated the grist mill for people that came from miles around because it was the only large corn grinder in the area. The Auburn Methodist Church congregation was formed with a log church in 1830.
On April, 20 1848 John Timberlake officially platted the town of Fallsville & named it after the waterfall next to the mill which is now part of The Fallsville Wildlife Area. More residents moved into town & Fallsville grew to have 3 streets with 8 houses in town & a few more on the outskirts. The residents thought Fallsville would get a railroad built through it & become a large town but that never happened. A new Auburn Methodist Church was built in 1891 & still stands today. It was the last structure built in town. Fallsville’s last resident was Andrew Payton who died in 1893.
There are also still several foundations in the area along with some other small structures & remnants. Simon & Elizabeth Clouser are buried with their 3 children at Auburn Church Cemetery on Careytown Rd. The waterfall & remnants of the town are off of Fallsville Lane, the gravel road south of Auburn Church. It’s blocked off from traffic but there’s a small parking lot at the front of the road.
To get to the waterfall, keep going straight onto the trail past where the gravel ends on Fallsville Lane. Building foundations & an old horse tank, the only one we’ve ever seen in a total ghost town, are on a trail to the left & heading south at the end of Fallsville Lane. Hunting goes on back there so wear bright colors, be extra safe, & as always, respectful of any other outdoor enthusiasts. The hunters we’ve met were all very nice & even gave us some info on where to look. It’s a cool place to snap some nature photos too.
Fallsville also has a ghost story about a native girl who knocks on doors around town on Christmas Eve. She’s said to be trying to tell local residents the location of a gold treasure buried nearby. The Clouser girls were always described as being very strange too, almost witch-like & some of the locals steered clear of them so to speak.
Hooksburg, OH – (1841 – 1913 Muskingum River town partially destroyed by flood)
Classification: small town
Location: Windsor Township, Morgan County – On SR 376 south of the Oney Ridge Rd intersection
Hooksburg was founded by Captain Isaac Newton Hook (1819 – 1906) in 1841. He started learning navigation on the Muskingum River around the age of 10 & became a boat captain on the Ohio & Mississippi Rivers in 1835 while shipping supplies to New Orleans. Captain Hook bought a steam boat, then built another one called Silverheels, & also operated a general store from 1841 – 1846 on his land that came to be known as Hooksburg. He married Lucinda (Dearborn) Hook (1820 – 1862) in 1842 & had nine children.
The town acquired a train station on the B & O Railroad on the west side of the Muskingum River. Captain Hook would ferry people & supplies from Parkersburg, WV to Marietta, OH to catch the trains. During the Civil War, he was in command of a Union fleet of 4 steamboats & 8 barges that sent supplies for the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad which was hit hard by Confederate soldiers.
After the war & the death of his first wife, Captain Hook married Quitera (Wilson) Hook & had seven more children. He was a larger than life man that was also known to walk on 11 feet tall stilts at local parades & ice skate down the Muskingum River when it was frozen over. Hooksburg had a post office in 1872 & then again from 1882 – 1914. Captain Hook built his own gravestone shortly before his death in 1906 & ironically had a small boat placed on top of it so he could “row away if it flooded”. That may have happened just seven years later when the town was destroyed in the flood of 1913. The church was also washed away & Captain Hook’s gravestone boat was never seen again.
He is buried with his first wife at Brick Church Cemetery between the Muskingum River & SR 376 along with many other relatives & early Hooksburg families. In nearby Stockport, OH part of Ohio Historical Marker # 5-58 is dedicated to Captain Hook & the Stockport Mill Inn has a suite named after him. The map is centered on Brick Church Cemetery.