7 Most Haunted Places in Ohio

Between its abandoned prisons, psychiatric hospitals, mansions and mining towns, it isn’t hard to find Ohio‘s spooky side. If you’re looking for things that go BOO in the night, you’ll want to check out the seven most haunted places in Ohio.

Scary Places in Ohio

1. The Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield

Don’t be fooled by its Hogwarts-esque exterior, inside you’ll find the state’s most violent, vengeful ghosts. Formerly known as Mansfield Reformatory, the building was designed to house nonviolent offenders to ‘reform’ them between 18 But lack of funding and overcrowding – with as many as four men per cell – drove the inmates over the edge. We’re talking suicides, murders, riots, and shootings. If it looks familiar, you’ve probably seen it in The Shawshank Redemption too. If you’re up for a few nightmares, you can book a tour of the 135-year-old prison. Visitors report spooky temperature changes, footsteps and objects moving on their own.

2. Athens Lunatic Asylum, Athens

If you haven’t got your fill from the Ohio State Reformatory, why not throw in a trip to a former lunatic asylum? Founded in 1867, the asylum originally pitched itself as a cutting-edge facility designed to rehabilitate the mentally ill. We all know what that looked like back then – electroshock therapy, hydrotherapy, lobotomies. It stayed open until the 1990s, and by then they’d treated tens of thousands of patients, with over 1,800 buried in the onsite cemetery. At one point, it was the largest employer in the state of Ohio.

Legend tells that one patient, called Margaret Schilling, wandered off on her own one night. A month later, staff found her dead on the floor of a locked room – and today you can still see the white stain in the shape of her body on the floor. Ohio University owns the site today and it’s all locked up, but some say that if you look through the window, you’ll see a woman waving back at you.

most haunted places in Ohio

3. Franklin House, Cleveland

Wealthy German banker Hannes Tiedemann built Franklin House in the 1880s. The thirty room home has everything you’d expect from a haunted house – gargoyles, secret passageways, turrets. Apparently, Tiedemann moved his family in almost immediately, but they started dying off mysteriously, one by one. Locals say it’s cursed. It’s passed hands numerous times, but no one seems to stay for very long. Maybe it has something to do with the random organ music, surging electricity and sightings of ghost children. We could be wrong though.

most haunted places in Ohio

4. Moonville Tunnel, Vinton

Abandoned nineteenth-century mining towns are spooky enough, but it all gets a bit much when you through a badly-lit haunted tunnel into the mix. The story goes that the ghost of a man killed by a fast-moving train wanders along the tracks every night. He’s not the only one either – as many as 26 people have died on the tracks, including lantern-carrying brakemen responsible for safely stopping the trains. Some say they’ve seen a mysterious swinging light in the tunnel, and some say they’ve even seen a figure carrying it. Eerie.

(Flickr: Mike/ CC BY-ND 2.0)

5. South Bass Island Lighthouse, Put–in–Bay

It might be a popular holiday spot, but Put-in-Bay has its fair share of paranormal activity too. The 45 feet tall South Bass Island Lighthouse is the epicentre of all the activation. Built in 1897, Keeper Harry Riley would keep its lantern lit to guide boats and ships sailing along Lake Erie’s rocky shores. In 1898 he hired an eccentric caretaker called Samuel Anderson, who allegedly kept a collection of live snakes at home. Tragedy soon struck, when smallpox broke out. The island was put under quarantine, and Anderson became increasingly paranoid. After only 22 days of life at the lighthouse, he was found dead. No one knows whether it was suicide, or something more sinister. Then, two days later, Riley was declared “hopelessly insane” and committed to an insane asylum. He died a year later. Did he know more about Riley’s death than he let on?

The lighthouse operated until 1962. Visitors today claim to have heard doors slamming, unexplained noises and eerie footsteps.

most haunted places in Ohio
(Photo: Charles W Bash/ CC BY-NC 2.0)

6. Malabar Farm, Lima

Farms don’t usually crop up as haunted destinations, but there’s something spooky about this one. The story goes that in the late nineteenth century a woman called Ceely Rose lived her. She fell in love with the boy next door and believed his family was conspiring to keep them apart. So she did what all lovesick teenagers do, and baked them a pie laced with rat poison. Since the Rose Family killings, visitors have report mysterious smells, unexplained noises and invisible cats brushing up against their legs.

7. Eden Park Spring House Gazebo, Cincinnati

It’s a pretty part, but Eden Park has a sinister secret. It’s been haunted since the 1920s, after a particularly grizzly murder. Imogene Holmes was on her last day of divorce proceedings when her husband, a just-out-of-jail bootlegger called George Remus, chased down her carriage and shot her to death. Apparently, she’d been wearing black to mourn the death of her marriage. Visitors claim to have seen a mysterious woman dressed in a black silk dress, peacefully taking in the twilight views.

Allie D'Almo

Allie is a passionate traveller with a hearty interest in great food and stories. She likes to travel slowly, particularly to underrated and underloved places. She’s lived in Italy and is now based in London, where she spends most of her time either plotting her next trip or writing about her last one.

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