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11 Hair-Raising Urban Legends Around Ohio

Ohio is more than just a land of fields and football.

It’s also home to a host of creepy, haunted, and downright weird places that will send shivers down your spine. From ghost towns to giant lake monsters to mysterious letters, Ohio’s darker side is a fascinating tale of the bizarre and eerie. Let’s explore some of the most intriguing stories and places that will leave you wondering what lies beyond the ordinary.

Bessie (Lake Erie Monster)

lake erie monster
Photo by Ed Cummings on Unsplash

In the mystical waters of Lake Erie, a legend lurks. Known as Bessie or South Bay Bessie, this lake monster has intrigued northeastern Ohio and Michigan for centuries. The first recorded sighting of Bessie dates back to 1817, and in recent decades, sightings have become more frequent and detailed. Described as snake-like, Bessie is believed to be 30 to 40 feet long, at least a foot in diameter, and adorned with a mysterious grayish hue. With each sighting, the enigma of Bessie deepens, leaving curious minds to ponder the secrets of Lake Erie’s depths.

The Ghost of Lake Hope Furnace

lake hope
via Facebook

Nestled within the enchanting Lake Hope State Park, a spectral tale unfolds during stormy nights. The forlorn spirit of a watchman, who once safeguarded the now-decaying furnace, is said to roam the area, his lantern casting an eerie glow. This furnace, operational from 1854 to 1874, served as the heart of iron ore processing from the region’s sandstone bedrock. The watchman met his tragic end during a brutal storm, and it is believed that he continues his eternal rounds, forever a guardian of Lake Hope Furnace.

Mudhouse Mansion

mudhouse mansion lancaster ohio
Mudhouse Mansion before it was demolished. Credit: ChristopherM (Wikimedia Commons: Link)

Mudhouse Mansion in Lancaster was a source of chilling tales. Although the house itself has since been torn down, several ghost stories plagued the property. The most popular being that the home was the original location of the iconic Bloody Mary and that the house was haunted by a woman who killed her children.

Circleville Letter Writer

circleville letter writer
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Circleville was plagued by mysterious, vindictive, and violent letters in the late 1970s. These letters continued for decades, leading to an unsolved murder. The letters were sent to hundreds of residents, local businesses, government offices. The contents of the letters included threats to reveal the darkest secrets of the recipients. While the case was officially closed by the local sheriff’s, there has never been any conclusive evidence as to the identity of the writer.


moonville tunnel
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Moonville, an abandoned coal mining town, is known for the haunted Moonville Tunnel. This historic tunnel, surrounded by Ohio legends, is believed to be home to a ghostly figure who met a tragic end beneath its tracks. It’s a spooky setting and if you’re someone who doesn’t get scared too easily, you can visit the tunnel and explore for yourself.

Rogue’s Hollow

rogues hollow ohio
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Rogue’s Hollow, often dubbed Ohio’s “Sleepy Hollow,” was a coal mining village notorious for outlaws and gangsters. The town’s eerie tales include a crying baby at night, ghost trains, and even Ohio’s own headless horseman.

Witch’s Tower

The Lookout Tower in Hills and Dales Metro Park, often dubbed the “Witch’s Tower” or “Frankenstein’s Tower” has a dark history. In 1967, a lightning strike claimed the life of a teenager named Peggy Harmeson while she sought shelter in the tower during a storm. Since then, the tower has earned a certain reputation with visitors claiming to see a ghostly girl and boy whenever lightning illuminates the sky.

Ohio State Reformatory

blood prison ohio reformatory haunted house
Known for its haunting beauty, the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield has been the backdrop for numerous movies and is famous for its paranormal activity. Visitors have reported eerie occurrences and ghostly sightings within its imposing walls. You can schedule your own ghost tour or even visit the prison’s haunted house.

Franklin Castle

hannes tiedemann house
Photo by Christopher Busta-Peck. Wikimedia Commons: Link

Known as the “most haunted house in Ohio”, Cleveland’s imposing Franklin Castle is a historic structure cloaked in dark legends. The home was built in the late 1800s and although rumors of Prohibitions era mystery passageways and hidden chambers persist, the only known passageway is a small stairway used by servants from the kitchen to the front door.

Majestic Theater

majestic theatre chillicothe ohio
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The Majestic Theater in Chillicothe has a long history of entertaining audiences, but it also has its share of ghostly stories. Many have reported unexplained phenomena and ghostly figures within its hallowed walls. Visitors claim to see several apparitions, including soldiers who died during a Spanish Flu outbreak, a mysterious little girl, and even a janitor who walks the halls, he keys jingling as he goes.

Ohio’s history is full of bizarre tales, mysterious occurrences, and eerie places. The next time you find yourself in the Buckeye State, venture off the beaten path to explore the creepy, haunted, and weird side of Ohio. You never know what you might discover in the shadows. Happy haunting!