Located deep in Zaleski Forest in Ohio near Lake Hope State Park, the Moonville Tunnel is all that remains from a small mining town that existed in the late 1850s. The Moonville Tunnel lies just across Raccoon Creek.
After getting camp set up we were running out of daylight fast. Everybody was up for a run over to the tunnel to finish the day before relaxing around the campfire. I warned Scott though, about going there after dark and that we may end up in that very situation - the tunnel is after all haunted !!!
Off we went anyway. The tunnel is not far from our camp, just down to the first road called Wheelabout and hang a left. Stay to the left as the road branches and it becomes a small gravel road through a fantastic forest. After crossing a small one lane bridge you arrive at an area that you can park in, right where the rail trail is now. The tracks have been removed.
The bridge and rail crossing the creek is gone, so you have to climb down the side of the embankment and then navigate some rocks across Raccoon creek to keep from getting wet.
You can still make out the MOONVILLE in the stonework above the archway.
There are several legends and ghost stories surrounding Moonville Tunnel.
The first story is the most popular and familiar in relation to the tunnel.
- On a dark night in the late 1800s, a brakeman was killed by a train. The brakeman was drunk after playing cards with some others and decided to walk through the tunnel to either get back to his home or his post. A train approached the tunnel and the brakeman attempted to stop the oncoming train by swinging his lantern back and forth.
His attempt did not work and the brakeman was hit by the train, decapitating him.
His ghost is said to haunt the tunnel, frantically swinging his lantern back and forth for eternity.
In fact, the railroad had to install a signal at Moonville in 1981 because so many trains were going into emergency mode when they saw the ghostly lantern frantically waving. Wokers were informed not to pay attention to any lantern or flashlight signals and only use the signal.
The second legend involves a young lady who was going to visit her lover in Moonville in 1905.
She was struck and killed by a train as she crossed the train trestle that spanned Raccoon Creek.
Her ghost is said to roam the old train trestle looking for her head.
Since the trestle is no longer there, we are not too sure where she would haunt today. Perhaps she floats along where the trestle used to be, but there have been no reports of such activity.
Some of this grafitti I photographed must pertain to the girl ghost.
The oldest of the legends claims that a conductor was having an affair with an engineer's wife.
This enraged the engineer, so as they were going through Moonville, he stopped the train and asked the conductor to check a brake line underneath the train.
When the conductor crawled under the railcar, the engineer kicked the throttle causing the train to lurch forward.
The conductor was killed instantly.
Another version of the story states the conductor accidentally fell from the train.
In either case, the conductor's ghost has been sighted since the 1890s.
There were several other deaths at or near Moonville over the years.
One man who was involved in a fight at a local saloon was attacked on his way home along the tracks. He was left to die on the tracks close to the tunnel. His body wasn't found until the follow morning after having been run over by several trains.
Another man named Charles Ferguson waited for a train to pass before he crossed the tracks. Little did he know some of the train's cars had somehow uncoupled. He was struck and killed by the second half of the train.
The last death was in 1986 when a 10-year-old girl was struck by a CSX train on the trestle that crosses Raccoon Creek.
A large stone in the wall with a repair date.
I'm not liking this - it's getting dark fast !! This place will give you the chills.
Wait a minute, If there are only 3 of us, and I am taking a picture of the other two, what is that light at the other end of the tunnel !!
We are outta here !!
Oh no - look at Scott's eyes, they look glazed over like a zombie.
I think the old man's spirit may have got in Scott's head - or penetrated his soul.