I promised earlier this week to tell you the story of Moonville and with Halloween approaching I can think of no story more perfect to recount today. Moonville is an abandoned railroad community nestled in the heart of the Zaleski State Forest. It was never much of a town really with just a handful of businesses and homes scattered
throughout the hollows surrounding a railroad tunnel of the same name.
The Moonville Tunnel is no longer used by the railroad. The tracks were removed several years ago and the primary access to the tunnel comes in the form of a path that winds through the woods. Little remains of the town save for a cemetery, a handful of old wells, a few old electric poles and the tunnel. And the ghosts, of course.
It’s a beautiful hike along the Raccoon Creek but most people who visit go looking for something a little more elusive than the scenery. Most visitors go in search of the ghosts who supposedly haunt this century and a half old tunnel.
There are numerous stories about people encountering various spirits over the years. As early as 1894 people were reporting other worldly experiences near or inside the tunnel.
The most common sighting has been of a man, standing close to eight feet tall with a white beard, seeing with eyes that glisten like balls of fire from under what appears to be a miner’s hat. Dressed in dirty overalls, he swings a glowing lantern when one nears the tunnel. By some accounts, he releases a blood-curdling scream.
There are other sightings – one is a woman dressed in clothes of an earlier time who smells of lavender. Known simply as the Lavender Lady, she is believed to have been out gathering lavender when she was trapped on the bridge over the Raccoon by an oncoming train. There are reports of formless spirits and of an unseen being that pelts visitors with pebbles as they enter the tunnel.
Are there spirits dwelling at the Moonville Tunnel? Ghost hunters from across the world – both novice and professional – visit Moonville every year hoping to answer that very question. Many other visitors come in search of thrills or even to disprove the legends.
I personally have never encountered anything while at the tunnel but have returned home to find some unusual images on my camera. Including the one below. I am a bit skeptical when it comes to things that I can’t see but I do respect whatever may be lurking out there.
Look closely at the picture. Do you see anything unusual? Can you see what appears to be a face in the mouth of the tunnel? I have a whole series of pictures similar to this one from one daytrip to the tunnel. I took a number of absolutely beautiful pictures with only five or six that were marred by white squiggles and spots. There appeared to be no reasonable explanation for these photos but I will leave it up to you. What do you think? Is there a ghost at Moonville? Leave a comment and tell your story. I would love to hear about your experiences out there!
If you Google “Moonville Tunnel,” you will get more than 4,000 hits. You’ll find everything from YouTube videos to newspaper articles to bloggers who write about the legends. A lot of these sources aren’t especially reliable. But there is one that is maintained by a local ghost hunter and history buff who took the time to research the facts. Check them out at http://www.hauntedhocking.com/Moonville_Tunnel_Brakeman.htm. These folks have done a really nice job researching and presenting the facts next to the legends.
Would you like to visit the Moonville Tunnel? The tunnel is close to Lake Hope State Park so here are directions from that park: At the Lake Hope Dam, turn onto Wheelabout Rd. Drive about 75 yards and turn left onto Shea-Moonville Rd. Follow this road for about 2.5 miles until you reach the first iron bridge. Park your vehicle at the side of the road. At the bridge, look to the left side of the road for a wooded trail. Follow this trail to the top of the hill. At the top, look left to find the Moonville Tunnel. Please note this access trail is located on Zaleski State Forest land and the Forest closes at 11 p.m.
There is an effort underway to include the Moonville Tunnel in a rails-to-trails project. This project will include installing bridges and creating a marked trail for muscle-powered use including walking, bicycling and horseback riding. For more information about their work, visit the Moonville Rail Trail Association online at http://www.moonvillerailtrail.com/.
There’s a lot more to say about Moonville but maybe we can save that for another day! Thanks for reading today and tell all your friends to stop by and say hello.