Ghost Towns: Armenia, Aurelius, Barber, Barnett Ridge, Big Bottom, Buells, Cady, Carter, Cats Creek Mills, Chenoweths, Dye, Eightmile, Gray, Henry Crossing, Hope, Lewisville, Liberty Hill, Lower Lawrence, Morris, Muskingum, Newberry, North Union, Olga, Ormiston, Palmers Settlement, Stowers, Ward, Wesley, White Oak

Caywood, OH (Caywood’s Station) – (1790s – present farming town with fewer residences than in the past)

Classification: small town

Location: Fearing Township, Washington County – On Caywood Rd at the intersection of Lynch Church Rd

Caywood was settled in the 1790s by William Caywood (1777-1864) & named after him. It was never a big town but had a train station on the Cleveland & Marietta Railway. There was also a general store, several churches, & a post office that ran from 1871 – 1922. William is buried in Lynch Church Cemetery on Lynch Church Rd along with some of his relatives & other early families. Caywood lost a lot of residents over the years, but the area still goes by the same name.

Elba, OH – (1871 – present coal mining, farming, & railroad town partially destroyed by floods)

Classification: semi – ghost town

Location: Aurelias Township, Washington County – On SR 821 at the intersection of Elba Hill Rd (Town Hwy 278)

Elba was settled in the mid 1800s, mostly by German immigrants. It became a town in 1871 & was named by Frederick Kueck (1817 – 1876) after the island that Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to, because they were both considered to be a “vast wilderness” at the time. Frederick donated land for a train station on the Cleveland & Marietta Railway. He also operated a general store at the Elba Station depot & was the first postmaster. The town had three general stores at its peak & most of the residents either worked in local coal mines or were farmers. The post office ran from 1871 – 1984.

Elba was originally located on US Hwy 21, but that changed when I-77 was built nearby. Some stretches of US 21 were abandoned & Elba ended up on SR 821. Its initial population decrease occurred as Elba lost its train station & travelers passed it by on I-77. The second demise that Elba faced was a series of floods. The first & worst of those was in 1998 when it rained over 13 inches in a single day & the banks of Duck Creek severely flooded. Two more floods ravaged Elba in 2004 in one week & the last one happened just four months later in 2005.

Elba Community Church, the Castle Hall of the Knights Of Pythias, & several other homes & buildings sit abandoned on SR 821. The town population is currently the smallest it has ever been. A lot of the land & buildings were purchased by the government  to be demolished, but not much of that has happened yet. Frederick Kueck was buried in Mound Cemetery in Marietta with some of his family members.  

Thanks to group member Chelssie (Thompson) Hanson for providing listing lead & most of the info on Elba!

Marietta, OH – (1788 – present farming, river, & railroad town)

Classification: historic town

Location: City Of Marietta, Washington County – Exits off of I-77

Marietta was founded in 1788 at the confluence of the Muskingum & Ohio Rivers as the first permanent settlement in the state, & the first U.S. settlement west of the original 13 colonies. The town quickly grew to be one of the most important in Ohio history. On top of being a river town, Marietta was a major transportation hub with several cargo & passenger railroad stations in the mid 1800s to mid 1900s.

Ohio Historical Marker #14 – 84 at 428 Fort St tells the tale of  Meriwether Lewis’s arrival in the area on his way to meet up with William Clark for their great expedition of the Northwest Territory. Marker #20 – 84 at 601 Front St & the Ohio River Museum has info about the Underground Railroad on the Muskingum River. Ohio Historical Marker #11 – 84 at 601 Second St has a story about the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

There are also a ton of historical buildings in Marietta including the Anchorage House on Putnam Ave. It was built in 1854 – 1859 & is said to be haunted by the ghost of Eliza (Whipple) Putman (1809 – 1862) who lived there & hosted lavish parties. Another interesting home, The Castle, is now on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1855 & purchased by John Newton Esq. who was the owner of the Marietta Bucket Factory. The Castle is supposedly haunted by the ghost of Jessie (Davis) Lindsay. She lived there 85 years & died in 1974. It opened for tours in 1994. The Lafayette Hotel & a few other buildings also have reported hauntings.

Rainbow, OH – (1795 – present early Ohio River town with little growth)

Classification: small town

Location: Muskingum Township, Washington County – On Muskingam River Rd (Town Rd 32)

In 1795 some settlers from Marietta drew lots for 27 plats of land near the mouth of Rainbow Creek. The creek & town were named for the rainbow shaped route that the Muskingum River takes through the area. Revolutionary War veteran Isaac Stone (1749 – 1808) & Lydia (Barrett) Stone (1751 – 1792) were the first to move there & had several children, but later got divorced & both remarried. They were followed by the Stacy family & several other families that won plats.

Ship building, mills, & farming were the main sources of income in Rainbow. During the Civil War, many of the residents went to fight for the Union & Thomas Ridgeway, an avid abolitionist, helped nearly 100 slaves escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad at his house by the river. The town had a train station on the B & O Railroad & a post office that ran from 1888 – 1903.  Issac Stone & many other early residents are buried at Rainbow Cemetery on Rainbow Cemetery Rd (Township Rd 513).


Washington County Ohio Ghost Towns Research Resources

1858 – Washington County Map

1875 – Washington County Atlas

1877 – Washington County And The Early Settlement Of Ohio

1902 – History Of Marietta And Washington County Ohio – Vol. 1

1902 – History Of Marietta And Washington County Ohio – Vol. 2