With the approach of Halloween, Samhain (FYI pronounced SOW-in), All Saints’ Day, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and so on with the end of the year/death/harvest cyclic and symbolic motif humanity has struggled with since we crawled down from the trees, my mind turns to legends and stories of the supernatural. This year I wanted to take a closer look at the ghost stories around my home – Cleveland. I also wanted to include my youngest daughter who is having social anxiety issues. Knowledge has always been fear’s panacea, and I hoped if I could help her be unafraid of what most people are afraid of then it would be easier to lessen her fears of the everyday. “You aren’t afraid of ghosts, so why be afraid of people?”
My, some would say obsession, with the concept of infinity necessitates that I emphasize that I am neither debunking nor substantiating these legends and stories. I will approach them with the all but forgotten art of unbiased journalism. I will give you some of the who, what, when, and where if applicable, but the why is yours to invent and decide upon. True to modern journalistic form though, I will also omit much of the substantial history behind these locations (it would only bore most readers and ruin the fun of the season in some cases). Believer or non-believer, the following are buildings and cemeteries steeped in histories that are worth knowing about. Plus, if you’re nearby stop and take a picture or two as we did. You never know what, or who, may appear in the photo.
Lake View Cemetery, the unarguably historic cemetery on the East Side off Euclid Ave, is the final resting place of such worthy wights as President James A. Garfield, Jeptha Wade, John D. Rockefeller and more. Witnesses have reported lights coming from Garfield’s monument where no lights are supposed to be. One legend claims that on certain nights the spirits of Garfield and Rockefeller utilize Lake View’s many ornate tombstones to play an elaborate game of chess.
The plethora of Gothic and religious statuary at Lake View have led to the creation of countless urban legends, of which there are too many to retell here. If a particular monument catches your eye, I encourage you to do some further research and see which legends speak to you.
Chestnut Grove Cemetery located in Olmsted Falls is the home of Witch’s Hill. Legend has it that the townsfolk burned a witch in their cemetery and refused to place a memorial for her. Instead they fenced off the area with old used millstones to keep her spirit separate from the sanctified grounds. Witnesses claim to have seen odd lights around the grounds. Plus ill fortune and bad luck are supposed to come to any who approach or touch the final resting place of the witch.
Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Valley City is home to the Witch’s Ball (or globe). The Stoskopf marker is said to be cold to the touch in the summer and hot to the touch in winter. The legends surrounding this grave marker are elaborate and dissimilar in all regards as to the association of this gravestone and witchcraft, but if you speak with local youths they will all tell you about a friend of a friend who touched it on a dare and a horrible fate befell them.
Haunted Houses, Castles, and Skyscrapers
The Franklin Castle is said to be the home of many haunts. Witnesses claim unaccountable floating lights and faces, echoing footfalls, and overheard conversations when no one else was supposedly in the house.
The Drury Mansion, stories of phantom footsteps, and random opening and closing windows began when the Ohio Parole Authority took over management of the property in the 70’s.
Grays Armory on Prospect and Bolivar is home to a phantom piano player, echoing footsteps, the random aroma of pipe smoke, and many more.
Johnny Mango’s in Ohio City … Despite being ‘cleared’ by the real life physic that the television show “Ghost Whisperer” was based upon – Mary Ann Winkowski, stories continue among staff and patrons that the eatery is haunted. Especially the women’s restroom.
Squire’s Castle in the Cleveland Metro Parks has been the location of many unaccounted for lights and apparitions. The figure of a woman with a lighted candle has been said to appear in people’s photographs when nobody was there when the picture was taken.
Kohler Hall at Baldwin-Wallace is said to have many wild and at times violent, spirits that haunt the halls of this one time dormitory. Legends claim it was once an insane asylum at one point with a connecting tunnel to the nearby chapel.
The Terminal Tower. Cleveland’s iconic landmark is full of stories from the staff relating randomly flushing toilets and running sinks, phantom footsteps, hostile energies, cold spots, rough phantom coughing and laughing. Plus full fledged apparitions of a man smoking a cigar.
Places and Spaces:
The USS Cod is supposedly haunted by a lone crewman who was once left behind. He supposedly looks over the sub and follows people around when they are on board.
Within the confines of the Rocky River Reservation is the remnants of Puritas Springs Park. Witnesses have claimed to hear the screaming of passengers that crashed in an accident on the Cyclone roller coaster.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is home to many legends and spooks such as Hell Town (an undisclosed and quite difficult to find place) that was supposedly swallowed up by the park. The much easier to find Everett Road Bridge on the other hand has witnesses claiming to have repeatedly heard pleading, disembodied voices imploring for help.
Those are the places we visited this autumn ’14. My little ghost hunter and I did not experience anything out of the ordinary, but we did see some beautiful scenery. Perhaps if you are in the area, and you decide to swing by one of these haunts you will have better luck, or poorer luck depending on your perspective, and come face to face with one of Cleveland’s ghosts.