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 pedestrian 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. The postal dates of 1857 – 1902 factor in the office that served the residents moving around a lot & the name changing several times, including Moonville (1857 – 1858), Big Sand Furnace (1858 – 1863), back to Moonville (1863 – 1865), Hope Furnace (1865 – 1890), & Rue (1887 – 1902).
From the railroad path on Hope – Moonville Rd, the town was in the opposite direction of the pedestrian bridge, 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.
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 was named “Major”, after Major Buxton. 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. She reportedly passed away in room #9.
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.
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 there were only a few left by the end of 1870.
However, there was still a need for a post office for to serve the surrounding area. An office opened in 1871 with William Huddleston (1825 – 1908) from Beaver County, Pennsylvania as the postmaster. He married Hannah (Smith) Huddleston (1825 – 1899) of Sprucevale in 1850 & they owned a farm across the road from the mill on the north side of Little Beaver Creek. Hannah was buried with her maiden family in Clarkson Cemetery 3 miles north of town on the west side of Sprucevale Rd in Middleton Township. William later moved out of the state & was buried with descendants in Viola Cemetery on the west side of US 67 in Mercer County, Illinois. Although Sprucevale is a ghost town, it is also still considered to be a populated place for census purposes.
Canal lock #41, also known as Gretchen’s Lock, sits along the banks of Little Beaver Creek approximately a half mile west of Sprucevale Rd & is supposedly haunted by a girl named Gretchen Gill who died of malaria in Sprucevale. Her father, E. H. Gill, was an engineer of the Sandy & Beaver Canal. Gretchen’s death reportedly happened on August 12, 1838. The bridge over Little Beaver Creek on Spurcevale 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 & she can occasionally be seen at the bridge dressed in her wedding attire. Many details concerning both of the legends are continually in dispute.
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 in extreme disrepair & was restored in the 1970s. It’s 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.
Waynesville, OH (1796 – present farming and stagecoach stop town)
Classification: historic town
Location: Wayne Township. Warren County – On US 42 at the intersection of North St
Waynesville was founded by Quaker settlers in 1796 & named after Revolutionary War veteran General “Mad” Anthony Wayne (1745 – 1796). Their journey by flatboat from Philadelphia over to Columbia in Hamilton County, Ohio & then up to Waynesville was documented by their guide Francis Bailey (1774 – 1844), an English scientist, astronomer, and adventurer. His book “Journal of a Tour in the Unsettled Parts of North America” was posthumously published in 1856. The Hammel House Inn at 121 S Main St began with a log cabin called the Hammel House Stand around 1800. It was rebuilt with a wood frame structure in 1817. The bricks section was added in 1822.
The building was renovated into apartments in the mid 1900s & turned into a bed and breakfast with a restaurant & gift shop in the 1980s. It’s reportedly haunted by several ghosts, including a black shadowy figure said to have passed through the wall from room #2 into room #3 where a guest was staying. The Waynesville Engine House & Lockup at 260 Chapman St was built in 1881 as the town’s first fire station. An addition in the back was constructed in 1886 & used for the jail. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 & was up for sale when we visited.
Over on S 4th St. at the intersection of Miami St., the Museum At The Friends Home is another very impressive structure. It was built in 1905 by the Quaker’s Society Of Friends & was a boarding house for retirees & single teachers. The building is considered to be the gateway to the Quaker Historic District in Waynesville. The museum is open 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. on Wednesdays & Saturdays from April to December. Tours for the Quaker Meeting House, constructed in 1811 next to the museum are also available.
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 had a school, general store, a train station on the B & O Railroad, & post office called Egypt Mills from 1852 – 1857. Another post office named Egypt was in operation from 1883 – 1905. 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.
These days, Egypt Valley Wildlife Area 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 unfortunately turned out to be true.
Thomas 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. Unlike most ghost stories around the state, the details concerning Louiza’s life story are real & historically accurate.
About a mile down the road from Salem Cemetery is the Old Egypt (Circle) 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.
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.
The town grew with the introduction of the Ohio & Erie Canal in 1827. A new post office opened in 1832. On top of the mills, it 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 area thriving for many more decades. The post office remained in nearly continuous operation until 1957.
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.
The Boston Mills Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992 & has a visitors center at the former store on Boston Mills Rd.M.D. Garage next to the visitors center was built in 1946 as a gas & auto service station. It’s restored & houses historical exhibits. Boston Community Church at the corner of Boston Mills Rd & Hines Hill Rd was constructed in 1911 & originally used as a school. A replica train station at the intersection of Riverview Rd (County Rd 9) & Boston Mills Rd is used by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad which operates rides for local tourism. There are also many old houses in the historic district.
Palestine, OH (1837 – mid 1900s farming & stagecoach stop town slowly abandoned over time)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Franklin Township, Adams County – On SR 41 between Peebles & Locust Grove)
Revolutionary War veteran Peter Wickerham (1756 – 1841) & Maria (Platter) Wickerham (1767 – 1839) moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio in the late 1790s. They purchased a farm at the intersection of State Route 41 & Adkins Road. Back then, that portion of SR 41 was part of Zane’s Trace, an early pioneer road that stretched from Wheeling, West Virginia to Maysville, Kentucky. Realizing the importance of the location they chose to settle, Peter & Maria constructed the first brick house in the county in 1800 – 1801 with the idea of turning it into a tavern and inn for weary travelers along the road.
They platted the town in 1837. It had a school, blacksmith shop, & a church. The inn was the only continually successful business in Palestine. It remained in operation until about 1850 & was used to help escaped slaves hide out on the Underground Railroad. Morgan’s Raiders, a Confederate Army cavalry unit, rode through Palestine on July 15, 1863 during the American Civil War. Some of its soldiers stayed at the Wickerham Inn before continuing on their journey. Peter & Maria had 9 children and were buried with relatives in Locust Grove Cemetery at the intersection of State Route 41 and Cemetery Rd north of the inn.
The cemetery was established in 1800 & the town of Locust Grove was platted in 1835.Palestine couldn’t keep up with the growth of Locust Grove in the late 1800s. The same was the case with Peebles, which was platted to the south of Palestine in 1881 and quickly boomed with a newly laid railroad rolling through that area. Palestine didn’t have any accommodations at the time to attract travelers or more residents and faded out of existence in the mid 1900s. Shortly before the town disappeared from maps, a local legend resurfaced & still captures the attention of readers and listeners to this day.
An old tale of the inn being haunted suddenly regained relevance nearly a hundred years after its origin. As the story goes, a stagecoach driver who was thought to be carrying a large sum of cash was murdered in the upstairs room he rented for a night, but his body was never found. Reports by locals & travelers of seeing a headless man in the window of the room were usually dismissed as a ploy to draw more visitors to the inn and town. In 1922 while the inn was getting renovated, workers moved limestone slabs of the basement floor and discovered a headless skeleton underneath them. It’s considered by many to be the most likely haunted building in the county.
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) & Asseneth (Martin) Robinson (1768 – 1835). Although the Robinson family is known to have lived in Maryland during colonial times, most genealogists state Charles was born in Virginia & the Robinsons lived in Kentucky prior to moving to Batavia Township. They arrived in the area of our subject in 1806. Charles was a farmer & Asseneth was known to have medical capabilities which were tough to find in those days. A Methodist congregation was organized at the Robinson cabin in 1808. Along with the help of neighbors, Charles built a log chapel around 1815 or 1816 that was called Robinson’s Church. The congregation later moved to Amelia & became the Methodist church there. Lucy Run also had a one-room schoolhouse that sits next to Lucy Run Cemetery & is currently a private residence. It has a county bicentennial marker including info on the county’s one room schools.
The area was reportedly named after Lucy Robinson, who by all accounts was either a daughter or niece of Charles & Asseneth. Her legend goes as follows. Lucy was engaged to be married in 1806 or 1807 with a local man who met another woman which he became romantically interested in. 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 the Robinson cabin & drowned.
The creek was subsequently named Lucy Run & the stream & adjacent road still bear 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 widely told ghost stories in Clermont County. Lucy is said to have been 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.
Many historians doubt the authenticity of Lucy’s tale though. Numerous attempts, including one by our group, have failed to turn up any genealogical evidence supporting the legend & it’s unknown if she ever even existed. However, several women with the same name, Lucy or Lucinda Robinson, are confirmed to have been born in & lived in the county after the first decade of the 1800s. What may be even more bizarre, & adds to the mystery, is there’s a well-known true story about Mary (Robinson) Weaver (1789 – 1861) in the county history books.
Mary was definitely a daughter of Charles & Asseneth. She got stuck out in the woods at night during a snow storm in the fall of 1807 while on a 12 mile journey to the Mitchell cabin in Miami Township. She could hear wolves howling & getting closer as the night went on. Her horse knew the dangers of the howls as well & wouldn’t let Mary get near him. She paced around the horse all night, far enough away to not get kicked, but close enough to keep the wolves from attempting an attack. Mary made it to the Mitchell cabin in the morning & took several days to recover after getting sick. As interesting as that story is, it by no means compares to Lucy’s legend which didn’t make it into printed recorded history.
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 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.
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, almost witch-like, & some of the locals steered clear of them so to speak.
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.