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Haunted Places in Ohio

Karen Frazier
Contributor Jeanne Grunert
steam train

Explore most haunted places you can visit in Ohio and experience paranormal activity including ghosts in a cemetery, theater, sorority house, and many other places. These hauntings happen at some of the scariest places caused by tragedies and disasters.

The Ashtabula Bridge Disaster Site - Ashtabula, OH

Nearly lost to the pages of history is the Ashtabula Bridge disaster. In 1876, a packed train plunged into the icy waters of Ashtabula Creek when the bridge spanning the creek snapped under the weight of the locomotive and cars. Many months prior to the disaster, engineers had reported ominous popping sounds when trains thundered over the bridge, but inspectors found no problems. Fatal design flaws and shoddy construction actually made the bridge an accident waiting to happen. On a cold December night, the bridge collapsed, dumping the passenger cars into the creek. Many of the hapless souls trapped in the wreckage died from hypothermia. Since the train cars landed one on top of the other, many who survived the initial crash were trapped in the wreckage and burned to death when the coal-fired stoves and oil lamps ignited the heavily varnished cars.

Haunting of the Creek and Chestnut Grove Cemetery

The haunting focuses on two sites: the area near the creek where the bridge once stood, and the Chestnut Grove Cemetery housing the dead. Visitors to the creek often hear screams, whimpers and cries, particularly during the winter, and the smell of burning flesh and varnish often hangs heavily in the night air. Since so many victims of the tragedy were burned beyond recognition, most are buried in a mass grave in Chestnut Grove Cemetery, marked only by a plain granite obelisk. Visitors spot apparitions dressed in Victorian period clothing near the mass grave. The apparitions carry picnic baskets and appear to be happy! Are the ghosts of the Ashtabula Bridge disaster enjoying a sunny summer day in the afterlife instead of reliving the horrible tragedy?

Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery - Columbus, OH

Camp Chase once stood along Livingston Avenue, just behind Sullivant Avenue in Columbus and near the Capitol Building. Like most Civil War prisons, conditions inside the prison were dreadful. Disease claimed the lives of nearly 2,000 inmates. Walk around Camp Chase Cemetery and look for fresh flowers on the graves of Benjamin Allen and several unknown soldiers. Visitors report a mysterious "lady in gray" who leaves flowers for Ben Allen and some of his unknown compatriots. Is she the ghost of a former wife, girlfriend or sister?

In 1988, during a well-attended Civil War reenactment, spectators clearly heard a lady weeping. Although they searched the area seeking the troubled woman, they found neither the woman nor the source of the sound. Many credible witnesses reported hearing the crying.

The Ghosts of Bowling Green State University - Bowling Green, OH

Like many haunted colleges, the Bowling Green State University campus claims not one but several specters.

Ghost of Alice

A ghost named "Alice" haunts the college theater. Witnesses report an apparition of a woman with long hair wearing clothing from the 1920's. No one knows how she acquired the name Alice, but tradition holds that unless the stage manager invites Alice to the opening night, bad things will happen. If all this sounds like silly superstition, consider what happened to a production of Henry IV sometime in the last decade. Cast members believe someone talked badly about Alice during rehearsals. On opening night, the box office computers went offline for no apparent reason. Several large props fell suddenly, injuring two actors. Did Alice cause these mishaps?

Ghost of Amanda at Chi Omega

Other buildings on the Bowling Green State University Campus are also said to be haunted. The Chi Omega Sorority House boasts a ghost named Amanda. Amanda is said to be the ghost of a sorority sister killed by a train on the night she was accepted into the sorority. One room in Chi Omega, called Amanda's Room, frequently experiences poltergeist-like activity. Items fall off shelves or pictures fall from the walls, lights turn on and off by themselves and strange knocking noises come from nowhere.

Each year the girls of Chi Omega take a sorority sister photo, and tradition dictates that they leave a blank seat in the line up for Amanda the ghost. In 1986, the sorority sisters forgot to leave one blank seat for Amanda. That picture is the only one that regularly falls off the wall in Amanda's Room!

Mansfield Reformatory - Mansfield, OH

The Ohio State Reformatory, also called the Mansfield Reformatory, operated in Mansfield from 1910 until 1990. The gothic architecture and horrible conditions in the prison earned it the nickname Dracula's Castle. The prison was also featured in the movie Shawshank Redemption. Now, this famous haunted prison also serves as a haunted attraction at Halloween.

Visitors report hair pulling, scratches on their back, disembodied voices, shadow people, apparitions, and more. Haunted places in the prison include solitary confinement, in the sub-basement, and near the electric chair, "Old Sparky."

Ohio State Penitentiary - Columbus, OH

No discussion of Ohio haunted places is complete without mention of the Ohio State Penitentiary. Although the site is now a parking lot, witnesses continue to report paranormal activity.

Fire at the Prison

The imposing edifice once housed hundreds of inmates. On Easter Sunday, 1930, a prisoner got the bright idea to start a fire, trigger the alarm and escape during the confusion. Unfortunately, his plan backfired. Smoke filled the cell block. Guards delayed opening prison doors, and more than three hundred convicts died in the fire.

Ghosts of the Penitentiary

When the building still stood, visitors to the empty penitentiary reported hearing screams, crackling flames and roaring fire. The city tore down the prison in 2000 to make way for the Blue Jackets stadium parking lot. Reports continue of spirit orbs appearing in photos taken near the stadium, phantom smoke smells, and unexplained screams heard near the old penitentiary site.

Explore Haunted Ohio

Intrepid ghost seekers in Ohio can explore a number of public haunted locations. Be sure you have permission to enter and never trespass, and you just may experience a ghost.

Haunted Places in Ohio