Today is not Presidents Day in Ohio. It is Washington-Lincoln day. The day was official named in 2001. This was codified to clarify the days on which laws can and can not take effect.
One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.
Three, four, Better lock your door
Five, six, grab a crucifix.
Seven, eight, Gonna stay up late.
Nine, ten, Never sleep again….
With these lines we know that something Bad is coming. That is the song used in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise. The films are about a man ho comes back to haunt the dreams of the children of Springwood, Ohio. He is not the first and won’t be the last monster to live in this state. A lot of horror movies use Ohio as setting. Is it that most of the Midwest looks like Ohio and many people could see it happening in their own town, no matter where it is filmed? Is it because during most of the 19th century Ohio was the population center of America and had a lot of residents, many who never left? Almost every major structure in Ohio has a ghost story or two. Some towns like Athens and Waynesville even claim to be some of the most haunted places in the country. Sometimes they don’t set the film in Ohio but simply film here. Like setting it here, Ohio can stand in for most of America. With our hilly southeast, our suburb filled southwest, our city filled industrial northeast, and all the farm land in between, Ohio is almost anywhere America. With a state that can stand in for almost anywhere and ghosts everywhere Ohio is the perfect place for a horror film.
Here is our non-complete list of Horror films set in / filmed in Ohio:
Howard the Duck
The Manson Family
Meet the Applegates
My Friend Dahmer
Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise
Pi Day Die Day
Trick ‘r Treat
Ohio citizens and visitors to our state have gone to the local parks for almost 150 years. They enjoyed the waters and the trails. They have hiked through the forest, or strolled through the meadows. Some loved them so much they remained long after they should have. These are a few tales of haunts from around the state. Some are from the parks themselves, most are from the history the parks are trying to preserve. (links to locations in orange titles)
The land was originally owned by Lemeul Punderson. After he and his wife’s deaths it changed hands, eventually being owned by Karl Long. On the site he decided to build a 29 room mansion for his wife. This was in 1929. The great depression soon followed and wiped out his fortune. He died before the mansion was finished. In 1956 the state took over the site and has run it as a lodge and conference center since.
In 1976 a band of gypsies told what is considered the first ghost story about the place. They reported seeing a dark seaweed covered shape emerge from the lake. This happened only a year after a teenage girl drown in the lake. Guest and Workers have been telling strange tells of the location ever since. Footsteps echo and pounding on doors can be heard when no one is around. Lights flicker and chills can be felt through out the old section. The grand spiral staircase is said to be haunted by a civil war veteran. The tower was the location of a many a story of a man who is said to be looking for a lost rocking chair. The Windsor suite is probably the most haunted section of the grounds with multiple figures inhabiting the room.
Beaver Creek State Park
Beaver Creek park is one of the parks that was preserved for it’s history along with it’s natural beauty. At the site is the remains of the old Hambleton mill. It’s grain was shipped via the canals that criss crossed Ohio. At the mill an old lady is said to keep vigil. Her name is Ester Hale. She is said to be seen on many night. Also along the canals is “Gretchen’s Lock.” Named after the daughter of the man who built the lock. His daughter caught malaria, came down with a fever and chills and rambled on about returning to their home land of Holland. Eventually she passed away and the family decided to return to Holland after the lock was built. They stored Gretchen’s coffin in the lock until they left. On the way back across the ocean a violent storm took their lives and they along with the coffin were lost at sea. It is said that the ghost of Gretchen returned to the last place she was at rest, inside the lock. Gretchen’s is not the only haunted lock in the area. A former keeper who died from a lightning strike while on duty is said to haunt “Jake’s Lock.” At the right time one can see him with his lantern bobbing a long on duty.
John Bryan State Park / Glen Helen / Clifton George
Located by village of Yellow Springs the gorge makes up one of the best preserved, and prettiest, areas of central western Ohio. The area traces its roots back to the original Adena Mound Builders and later the Shawnee. Nearby was Old Chillicothe one of the important sites of the Shawnee, with famed leader Tecumseh visiting often. In the late 19th century, when residents feared that the growing amusement park industry would take over the land, they decided to preserve it. Now it is 3 interconnected sites that showcase the beauty of the glacial carved region.
With such long history the sites are bound to have some never leaving visitors. In John Bryan an old hermit visits the area around the west gate. Willie the hermit drown when he and his horse tried to cross the overflowing river at the bottom of the gorge. He is still heard whistling his happy tune. In Glen Helen it is said that the girl who the preserve is named after can be seen playing after hours. She loved the area so much that her father donated the land to the local college to keep it as she remembered it. Some say she loved it so much she may never leave. Clifton George and the connected John Bryan have large cliffs that lead to the Little Miami river below. From the top one can see the danger of a fall. Many a person have gone out for a walk without ever coming back. Some on purpose, some by accident, and some for unknown reasons. It is said that the woods are best visited in groups at night.
Lake Hope State Park
Located in the south east, considered one of the most haunted parts of the state, and the nation, is this amazing park. While not as popular as the nearby Hocking Hills and Old Mans Cave, this park has one of the most famous eerie places in any state park, Moonville Tunnel.
The story goes that during the heyday of the old mining town of Moonville supplies were delivered daily by train. One night a brakeman fell from the train and was crushed under the wheels. He was taken to a nearby doctor but his injuries were too severe. It is said that if one looks out at night they can see the red signal lamp swinging in the wind to warn of the on coming train. Or is it to warn the many other people who have been killed by trains in the area? A man was killed coming home from buying groceries when he fell from the bridge he was attempting to cross. Another man died attempting to jump from the train early. A man, with the help of liquor, decided to sleep on the track. A search of the McArthur Democrat newspaper, the newspaper of the area at the time the train and town were bustling, will bring up many more stories.
The tunnel is located off the Moonville rail trail. There is a high water trail down the road. This path will lead around the creek that runs high most of the warmer months. The tunnel itself is a run down popular area. The walls are lined with graffiti and trash. Even in the light of day the area is creepy and scary. The idea that the ghost of a lost railroad worker, or a local citizen, becomes almost a guarantee once one has visited the area. Well worth the hike.
Hocking Hills is one of the most visited parks in Ohio. Every weekend when the weather is good the parking lot is full. But how many people know of the strange happenings in the area. The early Adena Indians, who built the Mounds in Ohio to bury their dead, some in the park. The inhabitants forever protecting that which they were buried with. The area was also inhabited by local American Indian tribes, including the Wyandot, Delaware and Shawnee, following the Adena. It is said that on a still night one can still see them roaming the area. One of the most noted areas for this is Conkle’s Hollow. This is where, as legend goes, many an American Indian was hung for robbing the settlers passing through.
The most famous and most visited area of the park is Old Mans Cave, with a good portion of visitors not even know that there is more to the park than this one gorge. The Hocking Hills section of the Buckeye trail, and North country national trail, winds through the gorge and passes by many a haunted spot. Old man’s cave was named after Richard Roe, a hermit who lived in the cave with his hunting dogs. He was not the first settler at the site. Nathaniel and Pat Rayon, two brothers, built a cabin on top of the ridge and lived out their days there. All 3 are buried in the cave area of the park. Late at night campers have said to have heard Roe’s dogs hunting, with some saying you can even see him walking the area looking for them. Further down at Rose Lake a woman searching for her son fell of a cliff and died. Hikers and fisherman say they can still hear her calling out to her lost boy. Along the trail around Ash cave a shy lady from the 1920’s has been know to creep around following groups of hikers.
By the nearby Logan Lake State Park is Scotts Creek Death Hole. Named for the underground cavern that draws water, and anyone caught in in its current, in from above. In 1887 a newlywed couple was pulled under while trying to cross. The horses can still be heard and the young women seen trying to find her husband.
The whole southern region is well forested and a good place for anything to hide. Almost any boy scout, hiker, or camper that has spent a night will have a story about some strange noise they have heard. Some claim to know what the noise came from. they say it was the most famous cryptid, the ape man known as Bigfoot. But that is for another post.
Every city or major building seems to have some ghost these days. Stories the owners and residents seem to tell and retell. Stories that have become so famous that people want to visit the locations they happened in. This can be a problem during the autumn months when the weather turns colder. People get out and expect to see the scary locations, even if the location doesn’t want them too. Some places shy away from the stories to try and discourage this. Other full heartedly embrace the stories and actually use them to their benefit. These are the locations that offer haunted tours.
Finding the right tour can be tricky. When going on a tour do not expect to find a ghost who will pose for a picture. These are not haunted houses designed to scare you. Expect a more refined historical walking tour. This is what makes the haunted / ghost tours so fun. Even if the ghost that the tour talks about is not real, the history of why people still talk about it is. When looking for a tour look for ones that mention history or stories not just experience. The best tours, and hardest to get a ticket to, are offered by the local organization. The prices seem to be lower and all the proceeds go to help the local group. Some offer a cool lantern or candlelight tour filled with stories. These are the best for setting the mood of the story telling. If you just want a cool walk through hidden areas of local museums or villages haunted tours are a great option for this too. Many location use the fall haunting season as an fundraising event and will go all out. Companies that offer the tours have better date options and more refined tours, but seem to lack the local flare that comes with a non-profit organization. We recommend starting early and trying to get a local tour. They seem to be of lesser known places and haunts.
Many places hold these tours and we can not hope to list them all. If you want to find one in your area google haunted tour and your town or even your favorite location. You never know what you might find.
By the time you read this (as of 2017) most of the tours will be filled, free ones can fill up in hours, and others in days. Some do not offer tickets till October or a few weeks before hand. Take a chance and see if they are openings, but always remember them for next year.
http://www.northernohiotourism.com/ghostly_things.htm – A good list of places by the lake
http://columbuslandmarks.org/event-calendar/ghost-tours – a good list for Columbus
http://oldetownghosttours.com – Dublin
http://www.ohiostatehouse.org/news/2017-haunted-statehouse-tour-tickets-now-on-sale – The Statehouse
https://www.friendshomemuseum.org/copy-of-purchase-ghost-tours-class – Waynesville
https://www.hauntedcincinnatitours.com – Cincinatti
http://www.woodlandcemetery.org/tours-and-events – Dayton’s most haunted cemetery
http://athenshistory.org/asylum-walking-tour/ – Athens, one of the most haunted cities in America?
http://www.ohio.org/events/haunted-hocking-weekend – Hocking Hills
The National Football League is the major professional Football organization in America. It honors its players with induction into its Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. With no team and the 130th in the nation for population size, the question is asked “Why is the NFL hall of fame in Canton?”
The first players to be payed to play football were William Heffelfinger and Ben “Sport” Donnelly. They were payed by the Allegheny Athletic Association. By the 1920’s great players were payed ever increasing amounts. Some were even “poached” from other teams during the season with a higher salary offer. This led to confusion, bidding wars, and rising costs. Something was needed to be done.
On August 20, 1920, in Canton, Ohio, representatives of the Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, and Dayton Triangles, all Ohio based teams, formed the American Professional Football Conference. Later it would change its name to the American Professional Football Association, after adding more teams from across the nation. These teams worked out an agreement on player “poaching” and helped to stabilize costs and talent across the league. On October 3rd the Dayton Triangles defeated Columbus Panhandles in what is considered the first NFL game. On June 24, 1922, in a meeting held in Akron, Ohio, the APFA, became the National Football League. For the next two years the Canton Bulldogs would win the league championship making them the first team in the NFL to do so.
Fast forward 40 years: The NFL had a long history and no Hall of Fame or other museum dedicated to it. Canton took this too heart. The local newspaper, the Canton Repository, pushed for it. They believed the only logical site was in Canton. It was the site of the original meeting. It had a historic powerhouse team. It was in Ohio the state where the first NFL game was played. The city was determined to get the Hall and on January 25, 1961 William E. Umstattd made a formal bid. A few months later the League agreed with what the city and awarded them the Hall. On September 7, 1963 the Hall opened and has been honoring players ever since.
Some places in Ohio are run by local history groups. Some places in Ohio are important enough for the Ohio History Connection to get involved. A select number of places in Ohio have even gotten the National Parks service to recognize them. One place in Ohio is run by the local, state, and national historical systems, The Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site.
Paul Laurence Dunbar was an African American poet at the turn of the 20th century. He wrote in both dialect and standard English. Dunbar became famous as a poet after self publishing Oak and Ivy, his first book, in 1892. After the popularity of the book he began to tour around the state, then then the nation, and finally England. At the height of his career in 1902 Dunbar bought a house in Dayton for his mother. After he started to suffer medical issues he moved in to the house with his mother. On February 9, 1906 in the house he had bought for his mother Paul Laurence Dunbar died of tuberculosis.
The House was bought by the state in 1936 and turned into the first state memorial to an African American. It was later in the century that people started to notice his works effect on the larger literary world. Maya Angelou even named her first book after a line in Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy.” In 1962 the house became a National Historic Landmark. 30 years later it was incorporated in to larger Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park when the park was created.
The Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site is a small location with just the house and accompanying visitor center. The center contains a short film on the life of Dunbar, a few of his artifacts, and information about the history of the house. The House itself is a small 2 story building common of the area. Together the entire site can be visited in 1.5 hours.
While that may seem to small for a journey to the area, the House is only .5 miles from the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park’s Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center. The center contains more information on the life of the printers of Dunbar’s first Newspaper, Orville and Wilbur Wright. One could easily spend an entire morning visiting both the Paul Laurence Dunbar House and Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, grab lunch at one of the areas great restaurants, and spend the heat of the afternoon walking around Woodland Cemetery where both the Wright Brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar are buried. With the Carillon Historical Park, National Museum of United States Air Force, and the rest of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park one could make a long weekend in Dayton. Even being rewarded if they go to enough places.
On the final Monday in May America takes the time to honor those who died in service to its armed forces. This tradition started in 1868 when former Civil War soldiers decided to decorate the graves of fallen veterans. While the custom is a long held tradition around the world, this time was different. So many soldiers had died in the recent Civil War, and so many families effected, that having a single day to do this helped to bring larger importance to the act. It wasn’t until 1971 with the enactment of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that the day created a yearly 3 day weekend.
To honor the veterans who gave it all here are some road trip ideas that have a military background. Some can be completed in one day some might take two. A great site to learn more about Ohio historical places and come up with you own trips is http://touringohio.com
Northwest Ohio and the War of 1812:
Fallen Timbers Battlefield and Fort Miamis National Historic Site – Fallen Timbers was the site of a major battle between American Indians and the newly formed United States of America. At the treaty of Paris in 1783 Britain gave the USA all of the land east of the Mississippi River. This include the Ohio Country. The American Indian tribes living in the area felt that they had no representation in the matter and that the land was still theirs. This led to the Battle of Fallen Timbers. At this battle American Soldiers fought the natives who were supplied by British from Fort Miamis. The defeat of the American Indians led to the Treaty of Greenville (see Garst Museum Below).
Fort Meigs – This fort with stood 2 attacks from the British and defended the Ohio country during the War of 1812. This is a full standing fort with a visitors center.
Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Library and Museum: The home and Museum of The former Civil War General and 19th President. For more information see our review.
Southwest and the Civil War
William Henry Harrison Tomb – The resting place of the 9th President and Ohio Indian Wars Veteran. He was the first president to die in office and is still the short serving person to have held the office. See our review here
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – This museum is dedicated not only to the Underground Railroad and the struggle of American Slaves, but the struggle of all people for equality, even in modern times. The museum is a powerful testament to the struggles that lead to the Civil War.
William Howard Taft National Historic Site: The birthplace and boyhood home of the 27th President. Governor of the Philippines following the Spanish American war, Secretary of War, and Commander in Chief gives this site some great military background. See our review here
Land of Grant : Grant Birthplace and Grant Boyhood home and School House – The 18th President and commander of the Union armies during the civil war. Visit where he was born, grew up and learned. See our review here.
Fort Jefferson – The site where St. Clair retreated after his defeat.
Garst Museum – Dedicated to the history of Darke county this museum tells the story of the Treaty of Greenville and the role it played in shaping Ohio. A nice large museum with lots of artifacts from the area. See our review here.
Fort Recovery – The site of the two largest and most important American Indian battles, The Defeat of St. Clair and the Battle of Fort Recovery. St. Clair had 900 of his 1200 men killed, about 1/4 of the US army. It is also the site of the fort that was built after the battle. It was this fort that allowed the US to win the next battle and led to the signing of the Treaty of Greenville.
Fort Steuben – Built to protect the surveyors of the northwest Territory. The Fort has a visitor center, full wood fort and large grounds surrounding it.
Fort Laurens – Site of the only Revolutionary War battle in the state.
McCook house – Home of the “Fighting McCooks.” Major Daniel McCook and his 9 sons and 6 nephews fought before and mostly during the Civil War.
The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum – The Tomb of William McKinley, the 25th President, and commander and chief during the Spanish-American War. Next to the tomb is the Library and Museum which house exhibits on the natural world, Stark County, and the life of the president. See our review here.
Bears Mill in Darke County is one of the last water powered mills still in operation in Ohio today. The 4 story mill has become more of a museum than a full day to day mill. The mill still mills tho.
Bear Mill has a shop on the first floor with a wide variety of kitchen utensils, pottery, decor, and ever chaining selection of art. Of course the shop also offers a selection of grains milled on site. The shop is a nice place to get a gift, or even just to get something for oneself.
The difference between Bear Mill and other local shops is in the mill itself. The mill is still in operation and during certain times one can actually see the grinding going on. When the miller is away the museum still is informational. The four floors are full of informational placards and pictures of the older days. Along with the working equipment are artifacts and items to support the story of how a mill works. One of the unique things about Bear Mill is that it has both the old buhr stone along with newer roller mills. Most mills discarded the old stones when they got the new rollers. The fact that the mill has both is a testament to the history that is preserved at the site.
Along with the beautiful mill are the acres of land surrounding it. Take a hike along the powerful Greenville Creek and see the force that drives the wheels inside. Sit and enjoy the sounds of the water and nature at the gazebo near-by. Bears Mill has something for everyone.
Miamisburg, Ohio the only one in the world. The outer areas house many of the chain/big box stores of the southern Dayton area. The downtown region is quite the opposite. It holds the soul of the city.
Downtown Miamisburg has shops and restaurants like most downtown regions in Ohio. Most of the places sell food and food related products, or ways to burn off the food. The selection of restaurants is similar but varied. The world famous Hamburger wagon being one of the most well known. With in walking distance are there are more burger joints, barbecue places, a pizza parlor, and ice cream shops. A unique candy shop, cupcake shop, and donut shop round of the meal with a little bit of sweet.
Afraid the calories are adding up? Rent a bike and ride on the one of the worlds best bike ways. A large portion runs along the river and through the downtown area. Many of the shops actually cater to bikers. Want to know what other outdoor activities the area has to do. The local outfitters can tell you. These are just a few of the shops and boutiques operating downtown.
Not in the mood to move much? Take in a show at one of the area entertainment venues. See classic movies at the Plaza Theatre, it’s hard to miss the giant sign. During the Summer the city offers free music by the river almost every week, with most weekends having a festival too. While the city is great for families, the ‘burg caters to the adults too.
Plenty of bars, and two breweries are great place to meet people and hang out with friends. A few of them have live music. Through out the year the city sponsors events aimed at the kid in the all adults. The most popular is Boo in the ‘Burg, a chance for adults to go trick or treating in their own way.
Before leaving the downtown area make sure to check out the historic areas too. Two small museums, a walking tour and a historic Mound tell the story of the region. The Miamisburg Mound is one of the most visible objects in the city and was created by thousands of years ago by the early inhabitants of the region. The Daniel Gebhart Tavern Museum is dedicated to the early settlers of what would become Miamisburg. The Mound Science and Energy Museum, now working with Dayton History on a new education center, details the secretive work done for the government. The Mound Laboratory was a nuclear facility that started after the end of WWII. The Laboratory built triggers for bombs and later the batteries for the space program.
Food, fun, and entertainment can all be found in downtown Miamisburg. Come for a meal, stay for the day. It is one of Ohio’s many treasures.
Quick Review: Historical museum with lots of walking trails to explore more history.
Fort Ancient is a museums and grounds representing the Native American cultures which once inhabited the area. It contains a museum and surrounding grounds.
The history of the area is long and complicated. The first people to build a village at the site were the Hopewell people. They were a mound building society, which they inherited from the Adena. Some of the best examples of this are at Hopewell Culture National Historic Park. The Hopewell Culture only lasted till the 500’s. About 500 years later people of the Fort Ancient culture took over the site and used th area until the arrival of Europeans. It is because of the walls and mounds that the first archaeologist to study the area thought that the recent inhabitants had used it as a fort. Only recently has it be understood that the walls and the later village were from separate unrelated cultures.
The museum offers 9,000 sq ft of exhibit space. There are exhibits on the first Ohioans, how they used the land, their first contact with the Europeans, and the conflict which ensued. There is also a prehistoric garden, showing all the crops that would of been grown during the time There are lots of hands on exhibits.
Fort Ancient is not just a museum but also and great outdoor space. It is the largest outdoor historic site of its kind in the country. There are 2.5 miles of walking trails. These trails allow one to see the historic mounds and also the surrounding countryside. There are two overlooks that give a great view. The trails are easily accessed from parking lots through out. The park is nice because what is learned at museum can be experienced in the natural setting. The maps and dioramas in the museums show off where everything used to be, so seeing this outside really adds to the overall experience.
Tip: Fort Ancient is worth a visit on its own, but is also part of the Ohio History Connection and is free with Membership