The Moonville Ghost
Local legends, myths, folklore & the supernatural in the Hocking Hills:
The Legend of Old Man’s Cave: Old Man’s Cave is a beautiful gorge of Black Hand Sandstone that was formed over thousands of years of geologic erosion, mainly due to the last glacier in Ohio from 14000 to 17000 years ago stopping just before reaching the Hocking Hills. Salt Creek that runs through the gorge and eons of erosion and weathering resulted in the carved appearance we now see. Evidence of early trappers occupying this area exists but in the late 1700’s an old hermit named Richard Roe (the Old Man) visited, having walked here from his family farm in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee. He settled here and stayed often in the large overhang at Old Man’s Cave hunting and trapping with his mongrel dogs. One winter the Old Man went to get water in the creek through the gorge which was typically frozen. He would use the butt of his musket to break through the ice. This day the musket fired, hitting the Old Man in the face and instantly killing him. Later other trappers found his body and it is rumored they buried it under the ledge where he stayed. The bones have never been found are said to have been scattered to the winds by animals prowling the area. Today Old Man’s Cave campers often tell of hearing the baying dogs clearly during full moons.
The Rock House Legend: During the mid-1800’s until 1925 a grand hotel pampered guests year round. Finally in 1925 the hotel and property was sold to the state for the Rock House park area. The state tore down the hotel which was located where the Rock House shelter is now. During its heyday one morning the staff found a patron, Mary, dead in her room. Rumor has it she committed suicide over a spurned lover. Mary continues to prowl the grounds around where the old hotel was located calling out for her lost lover.
The Legends of Conkle’s Hollow: Conkle’s Hollow was named from an inscription found on the West wall that simply said W. J. Conkle 1797. Conkle’s is one of the deepest gorges in the state of Ohio. The tale says that a group of settlers rafting down the Ohio were robbed by a band of Indians. These early Indians from this region were soon caught and hanged for looting the wayfarers. Rumor says the Indians concealed their ill-gotten gains in the ledges and caverns of this region. They carved on the rock wall an arrow pointing to where they buried their treasure on the opposite wall of the hollow, which they had hidden in a recess there only accessible by climbing a large Hemlock tree. Years later other members of their tribe returned to find the hemlock had fallen and they were unable to reach the cache. Slowly the arrow pointing to the wall eroded, yet it is said the stolen money is still there. Modern day hunters of these loot caches have related stories of being followed by the ghosts of the deceased braves.
The Legend of Ash Cave: Ash Cave and Falls is a truly inspiring place to visit and commune with nature. An unknown mystery apparition of a woman dressed from the 1920’s era in a white dress has been reported following numerous groups at Ash cave and falls, often gazing at them from behind the towering hemlocks and black birch in the hollow or from behind the rocks. This legend is a mystery itself and her lost identity is known only to herself. Another legend has it that two pioneer children were running from Indians and to escape being captured they jumped over the falls ledge to their deaths. They often can be heard screaming and can be seen at the bottom of the falls running and dripping wet. Many have mentioned that they also have seen tiny lights fliting by the trails here.
The Legend of Gold Mine Hollow: Out in the Hocking State Forest is an area that in the 1800’s legend has it an old miner claimed for digging a gold mine. Nothing was ever discovered but the place got the name of Gold Mine Hollow. However, an early trapper in this region lost his way and tried to scale a tall rock outcrop to get his bearings. Legend has it he fell to his death and his bones were discovered years later. Now the occasional horseback rider following a trail near here have reported hearing him scream as he falls. No details of the trapper remain.
The Legend of Scott’s Creek: A newly married husband and wife in the late summer of 1887 stopped at the ford across Scott's Creek in their buckboard to allow their horse to drink. Unaware that there is a steep drop off underwater to one side of the ford crossing the horses strayed and the buckboard with the young husband and wife suddenly dropped into this deep creek hole that feeds underground springs and caverns and drowned in each other’s arms. A passerby noticed this and called for the townsfolk to come and try to help save the couple but, alas, it was too late. Today visitors can hear the horses snorting furiously and the bride is often seen walking the banks in search of her husband.
The Legend of Rose Lake: Years ago, when her son went lost in this area, the Mother searching for him in this area slipped off a cliff and was killed. Now the voice of this ghostly woman can be heard and mysterious lights seen. Hikers and fisherman have related stories of hearing the woman screaming out still trying to find her son.
The Legend of the Georgian Manor: This historic Inn has been around for a long time. In 1898 the owner is said to have been poisoned by his wife. She was tried and found innocent. Visitors and guests have told stories of the ghost of a man and children in clothes of the late 1800s fashion playing on the lawn. Another guest awoke and saw a ghost floating over her bed. Past murders here and the shroud of secrets beset this house with apparitions of this renovated B&B.
The Legend of the Moonville Tunnel: An old railroad passed through the remote community here in Vinton County, its only remembrance today is the tunnel engraved with “Moonville” on either entrance side. The story has it that a railroad conductor fell and was sliced in two by the train. He can still be seen wandering through the tunnel at night and many say they smell the kerosene of the lantern he holds aloft. Others say it is the ghost of a drunken man, Baldie Keeton, who was murdered near Moonville Tunnel after a drunken fight in a nearby tavern. No one was ever arrested or confessed to this crime. Baldie is said to stand motionless on top of the tunnel and throw stones down onto passersby. This story has been passed down through the generations for over a hundred years.
Many visitors to the Hocking Hills research the myths and legends found here, invoking a sense of magic and wonder in all who visit.
In 1837, Dr. S.P. Hildreth, a founding charter member of the Ohio Company, was conducting the first geological survey of Ohio. Dr. Hildreth came across a carved warning message as he traveled near South Bloomingville. There on an giant beech tree with the message “THIS IS THE ROAD TO HELL, 1782” carved into its trunk.
Dr. Hildreth was aware that certain native Indian tribes often captured early trappers and settlers and tortured them, including burning them alive. Was this carving by a pioneer who had been captured and tortured?
As the years passed and the giant Beech eventually toppled and decayed, one has to wonder at the fate of the pioneer. This is just one of the many puzzles hidden away in the mists of time here in the Hocking Hills.