Arbaugh, OH – (1830s – present farming & mill town)
Classification: small town
Location: Vinton Township, Vinton County – On Arbaugh Rd near the intersection of County Hwy 38 (Eakins Mill Rd)
The town was settled in 1832 by Joseph Arbaugh (1799 – 1869) & Susannah (Nelson) Arbaugh (1809 – 1855). Joseph had 4 children that were born in Meigs County from a previous marriage with Mary “Polly” (Conner) Arbaugh, who died a few days after their last child was born. He married Susannah in 1829 & had 9 more children born in Vinton County.
The covered bridge on Eakins Mill Rd goes by a few names including Arbaugh, Eakin’s Mill, & Geer’s Mill Bridge. It was built in 1871 at a cost of $800. The bridge provided an easy way to transport goods & people across Raccoon Creek & is the oldest surviving covered bridge in Vinton County. A post office ran from 1890 – 1918 & the old Arbaugh Cemetery is a few miles to the northeast on Township Hwy 26 (McCartney Cemetery Rd). Some of the Arbaugh’s descendants are also buried in Radcliff Cemetery about 3 miles south of town on Radcliff Cemetery Rd off of SR 160.
Thanks to Timothy Hess for providing the listing lead & some of the info on Arbaugh!
Hope Furnace, OH – (1854 – late 1930s iron furnace & mining town partially destroyed during the construction of Lake Hope State Park)
Classification: semi – ghost town
Location: Brown Township, Vinton County – On SR 278 north of Zaleski
Hope Furnace was built by Colonel Douglas Putnam (1806 – 1894), who was a wealthy businessman from Marietta & also managed a furnace in Ashland County. It started operating in 1854 & had a train station on the Big Sand Railroad. Hope also had a general store, a school & dozens of homes. The town hit its peak population at around 300 citizens in 1870. Many residents left when the furnace stopped production in 1875. Hope’s post ran from 1865 – 1890. More residents moved away before the late 1930s when construction of Lake Hope began. It eventually submerged a large percentage of the town’s land.
The furnace is near the northeast corner of the lake off of SR 278. It was listed on the National Register Of Historic Places in 1973 & is highlighted by Ohio Historical Marker #1 – 82. It’s also reportedly haunted by the ghost of a night watchman who died on the premises & can supposedly be seen making his rounds with a lantern on stormy nights. The former one room schoolhouse has been restored & is used as a meeting hall. It sits in the forest off of one of the hiking trails. Hope’s last church is abandoned on Wheelabout Rd south of town off of SR 278. Lake Hope has lots of recreational activities to do.
Lake Hope State Park Info – parks.ohiodnr.gov/lakehope.
Ingham, OH (Ingham Station) – (1856 – 1910s coal & railroad town abandoned when mines shut down)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Waterloo Township, Athens County & Brown Township, Vinton County – southwest of Rockcamp Rd where it meets King Hollow Trial & the former railroad path at a Y intersection (same parking spot as Kings Station in Athens County)
Ingham was the town between Moonville & Kings Station on the same railroad line. It’s about a mile hike when taking the railroad path to the southwest at the Y intersection. The town was built on land owned by W. J. & J. M. Ingham. It had a school, general store, train station, coal tipple, & several residences scattered about the area along with a few buildings & structures for the mining industry. There are some foundations, mine shaft entrances, & other remnants along the hiking trails off of the railroad path. Ingham can be accessed from Moonville too, but the hike is much longer.Waymarking.com has a nice listing for Ingham with GPS coordinates for many of the buildings & mine shaft entrances.
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.
Oreton Station, OH (Aleshire) – (1853 – 1950s coal, railroad, & iron furnace town slowly abandoned over time)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Vinton Township, Vinton County – On SR 160 about 5 miles north of SR 32
A good parking spot is right next to the only building that’s still intact. It’s the brick safe of the general store that was operated by David Eberts (1872 – 1961) who managed the New York Coal Co. in the 1930s & 40s. There are also some interesting smaller structures, remnants, & mine entrances on hiking trails accessible from the parking area. A 17 train car length passing siding, for loading & unloading between the former railroad tracks, is along the left side of the trail heading west from the parking spot.
Before the New York Coal Co. arrived, most of the land was owned by C. K. Davis who operated the Alma Cement Co. in nearby Wellston, OH. After the New York Coal Co. left, the mines were run by the Sunnyhill Coal Co. & lastly, the Peabody Coal Co. Oreton hit its boom days after construction of the Eagle Furnace in 1852. The residents mined iron for the furnace, coal, shale, & small amounts of silver. What’s left of the toppled over furnace sits next to a gravel access road on the opposite side of SR 160 from the brick safe. It had a post office from 1854 – 1858. Eagle Tunnel, that the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway went through, is still intact but is closed off with concrete. The last train rolled through it in 1930.
Oreton had somewhere between 800 – 900 residents at its peak. There was about 50 houses & a one room schoolhouse, but it never had a cemetery, probably because it was a working town that most people just moved to for jobs. They were buried back on their family farms or in cemeteries of other close towns. David Eberts was buried in Radcliff Cemetery on Radcliff Cemetery Rd off of SR 160 close to SR 32. His relatives were buried in Radcliff, Beard, Hamden, & Elk Cemeteries. The town was totally abandoned shortly after it lost its post office which was in operation from 1880 – 1950.
It has been reported that the town was originally called Aleshire, according to postal records from before 1880, but there isn’t much info prior to it being called Oreton. It seems to be a ghost town within a ghost town. However, the Aleshires were a large early Ohio family, mostly living in Meigs & Gallia Counties in the first half of the 1800s, & many early Ohio towns were named after family last names. There are several Aleshire graves in Mound Hill Cemetery in Gallipolis, OH, about 35 miles south of Oreton & a strait shot down SR 160. The closest evidence we have to linking the town of Aleshire to the family surname is a record of an Alonzo Aleshire who was born in Vinton County in 1857. An Essie Alshire (1896 – 1918), spelled wrong or name changed, is also buried in Hamden Cemetery 7 miles west of Oreton. We suspect there may be an Aleshire family cemetery somewhere in the vicinity of Oreton that was either simply lost over time or destroyed by the mining industry.
Puritan, OH – (1909 – present brickyard town with fewer residents than in the past)
Classification: semi – ghost town
Location: Clinton Township, Vinton County – On SR 160 about 2 miles east of Hamden
Puritan first hit the maps in 1909 when the Puritan Brick Plant opened for business. The company purchased 980 acres of land in the area. They also operated two coal mines to fuel the brick ovens & a shale mine for brick & cement ingredients. The owners paid for over a mile of train tracks to be laid, called the Puritan Railway, to haul bricks to other towns & companies. The tracks connected to the B & O Railroad that ran through nearby Hamden & many other Ohio towns during that time.
The plant employed around 100 workers & was capable of producing 100,000 bricks every day. It was later bought out by the McArthur Brick Co. who kept it in operation until the early 1960s. What’s left of the decaying plant & brick ovens sits in the woods on the south side of SR 160 across from the parking lot of the church next to Patton Rd. Puritan Cemetery, which pre-dates the brick plant, is at the end of Puritan Rd. It’s the first right turn off of Patton Rd when traveling from SR 160.
Thanks to Steve Massie for providing the listing lead on Puritan!
Vinton Furnace, OH – (1854 – 1883 coal mining & iron furnace town abandoned when production stopped)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Elk & Madison Townships, Vinton County – On hiking trails off of Stone Quarry Rd
It was founded by Clark Culbertson & Company & eventually became a ghost town along with all of the other iron furnace operations in southeast Ohio. A row of small houses was built for the workers & a post office ran from 1854 – 1857. The furnace started blasting in 1854 & ended in 1880. It employed around 100 people who were paid in company store tokens. Part of the furnace, coke ovens, & the engine house foundation are still visible. The coke ovens were built in Belgium & only installed in a few furnaces around the world. They were made to produce coke fuel out of coal for smelting iron in the furnace better. Unfortunately the coke didn’t burn well & production costs ended up being part of the company’s demise.
The furnace site isn’t easy to get to. Stone Quarry Rd is a couple of miles east of McArthur, south off of US 50. Drive past a limestone quarry to where the road forks off. Take the left fork & go around a few bends to a trail that leads to a closed iron bridge in the woods on the right. It is actually an abandoned county road. Hike the trail & follow the tree markers until you get to the furnace remnants. The ovens are up the hill behind the furnace. Despite being just about 2 miles from US 50, it’s amazing how remote the location seems to be while visiting.