The Most Haunted Places Near Columbus

Written by Marisa Wilson
Published: October 24, 2022
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Columbus, Ohio, draws visitors frequently from all over the United States. The main reason is that it has excellent museums and a vast amount of art. It also houses the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While it seems to be a fun vacation, a few people always wonder if it could be a spooky location. There are some areas around and in Columbus that may give you a thrill. 

The thrill is only fun if you enjoy spooks and reading about scary lore before you visit places. There may not be a ton of hauntings in Ohio, but the areas that are haunted are really haunted. Read this article closely if you are excited to get chills and thrills. Don’t worry; nothing jumps out at the end of the article, and if it does, we didn’t plan for it!

Ohio State Reformatory

Ohio State Reformatory
A stark reminder of the brutal reality of prison life is the 215 numbered graves located right outside the reformatory.

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The jail served as an intermediate penitentiary when it opened in 1890, housing first-time criminals who were too violent for industrial schools. However, the reformatory was compelled to take in offenders convicted of serious and violent crimes as prison populations grew in the 20th century. The reformatory had reached capacity by the 1960s, and overcrowding led to strife and sickness. The prisoner’s body was discovered smashed and shoved beneath the bunk after the guards noticed he was absent from one of the cells during morning checks. 

This and other incidents prompted the closure of the Ohio State Reformatory in 1972. Even though the prison’s routine activities were enough to leave a mark on the location, several events were a guarantee to increase paranormal activity at Ohio State. In the East Cell Block, a riot occurred in the late 1930s. The guards forced 120 rioters to live in 12 solitary confinement cells for a week without food or water. Many came to the verge of insanity and death by this punishment. Numerous inmates committed suicide; many perished from illnesses including influenza and TB, some went insane, and at least one set himself on fire.

A stark reminder of the brutal reality of prison life is the 215 numbered graves found right outside the reformatory. It is difficult to silence the ghosts of these aggressive and mistreated men. Unseen powers have shoved and pummeled tourists and tour guides. Like other haunted places, many claim to experience an unexplainable cold while on prison grounds. Witnesses have also reported hearing cell doors bang and seeing shadowy figures. Even the Ohio State Reformatory’s access road possesses a haunted feel. According to local lore, it is the spirit of Phoebe Wise, a renowned hermit and bizarre from Mansfield. 

The Ridges

The Ridges Asylum
The West Green’s buildings are all reportedly haunted. The Indian burial grounds were situated here. In the fourth story, hauntings are most common. Doors have been known to slam shut on their own, and people have seen and heard apparitions.

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A teenage girl with epilepsy became the first patient admitted to the asylum. Her parents put her away because they believed a demon possessed her. This was an institution for people with various mental diseases from 1874 to 1993. Veterans of the Civil War, disobedient teens, the homeless, the elderly, and even dangerous felons received admission. The seven buildings that are a part of this vast area were in use for the care of tuberculosis patients. Dr. Thomas Kirkbride thought routine, cleanliness, and rest were crucial for people with mental health conditions. 

People from the neighborhood gained many jobs thanks to the asylum, but the medical personnel were underqualified. This increased the risk of procedures like the dreaded lobotomy treatments. These procedures involved drilling a thick needle through the patient’s skull and into the brain just above the eye. A faulty lobotomy results primarily in death. It also creates a state where the patient feels permanently trapped inside their own body. Daily hydrotherapy sessions were another disturbing procedure. The patient would take a bath in either exceedingly freezing or extremely hot water during this treatment. 

Last, electroshock therapy involved exposing a patient to a powerful power surge that sent their bodies into convulsions. These spasms could occasionally be so violent that they would break bones. The West Green’s buildings are all reportedly active haunts. The Indian burial grounds are here. In the fourth story, hauntings are most common. Doors slam shut on their own, and people see and hear apparitions. The asylum’s story is truly horrifying without adding the spooks and haunts to go with it.

Hell Town

Consider living in a house where your family has been there for generations. The government suddenly overruns your little community and orders you to evacuate. Without hesitation or justification, pack your things and leave. Hundreds of residents started to leave in a mass evacuation, and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park overtook the town. The most tragic aspect is that the site never became a park for everyone to enjoy. It now sits silently deserted, with all its residents having fled for no apparent reason. 

Many stories origins begin in the Boston Cemetery, found in the middle of the area known as “Helltown.” One story is of a phantom sitting on a bench waiting for his family to return to him while feeling abandoned. Only the dead remained trapped in this deserted ghost town, searching for their relatives who had long since fled. There is a persistent allegation the National Park story was only a cover-up and the town evacuation began due to a significant chemical spill. Reports of mutations to children in the area due to chemical waste surface from time to time. 

A determination made states thousands of chemical barrels are there from big businesses including several hazardous compounds. Cleanup efforts began but never completed. Two roads in Helltown are branded “dead ends” despite continuing into the distance. Local cults allegedly put up these signs to conceal their hideouts. You may also call Stanford Road in Helltown the Highway to Hell. It’s a hazardous route with an intense incline; when a car reaches the top, it looks like it’s driving over a cliff. Some myths say the road is wicked and takes over vehicles, causing fatal accidents. Rumor has it if you park near the end of Stanford Road, mysterious people who patrol the area may harm you.

Moonville Tunnel

Moonville Tunnel
The Moonville Tunnel stands out in the woods, presenting an eerie, isolated reminder that a whole town once stood there, and its history still haunts the location with ghost stories.

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One of the remaining remnants of the tiny mining town of Moonville is the haunted Moonville Tunnel. Located deep within the woods next to Lake Hope State Park, Moonville Tunnel has otherwise left the map. The population of Moonville, Ohio, peaked at a little over 100 people in 1870. Therefore it was never a huge town. The tiny mining village was far from other towns and could only be reached by walking along the active railroad tracks, with only a few dwellings along the railway, a supply store, and a saloon. 

The cement Moonville Tunnel was the only noteworthy feature along the otherwise unremarkable area close to the town. At least 26 deaths along the rails heading to various towns over the years were concentrated around the tunnel. Since then, it’s become the subject of numerous ghost legends. Most ghost stories center on the wandering spirits of railroad workers who perished on the job. 

However, the hauntings don’t seem connected to any particular death but rather a shifting conglomerate of paranormal culprits that changes with the story through the decades. Several actual rail workers did pass away nearby the tunnel due to the hazardous techniques for controlling the trains, like brakemen who stood atop the moving train. The Moonville Tunnel stands out in the woods, presenting an eerie, isolated reminder that a whole town once stood there, and its history still haunts the location with ghost stories.


After exploring some of the haunted places, you may want to visit to take pictures and explore. Ensure that you’re allowed in the areas you’re interested in, or you might end up with a fine or jail time. Suppose you are stuck picking a place off this list; then you can narrow your choices by going to the one with your level of spooky present. 

First-time ghost story explorers could ease into it by starting with Moonville Tunnel. Nothing can get you if you’re outside the tunnel, and there haven’t been many sightings of ghosts. The worst one to visit on the list for brave souls is the Ohio State Reformatory. It has so much negativity from past events that you will undoubtedly encounter something paranormal. Which one would you visit? Check out the other haunted places below, and stay spooky!

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About the Author

Creepy-crawly creatures enthrall Marisa. Aside from raising caterpillars, she has a collection of spiders as pets. The brown recluse is her favorite spider of all time. They're just misunderstood. You don't have to worry about squishing the creatures as her catching, and relocating abilities can safely move stray centipedes or snakes to a new location that's not your living room.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Where should a first time ghost hunter start in Columbus, OH?

The Moonville Tunnel

Where is the worst or scariest place to visit in the Columbus area according to this author?

The Ohio State Reformitory

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

  1. Only In Your Town / April Dray, Available here:
  2. Ohio Dominican University / Sirena Frost, Available here:
  3. State of Ohio, Available here:
  4. Only In Your State / April Dray, Available here: