In the southeastern Brown Township, Vinton County, Ohio, United States one can easily locate Moonville, now nothing more than a ghost town. Almost nothing remains of this once very active mining community, except for a few foundations, the cemetery, and the railroad tunnel; a place where ghosts from times recent and past gather to remind the living of the days long gone.
During 1856, the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad (M&C) was working hard to push through southeastern Ohio to reach Cincinnati. William Cutler, the owner of this fledging railroad, ran into some financial trouble so he decided it was time to streamline the railroad and somehow save some money.
That’s when a man named Samuel Coe made a life-saving move. He offered Cutler to build the railroad on his property free of charge. But of course, there was a catch to this whole idea. The benefit to Coe was that the railroad would be used to haul coal and clay off of his property.
At the end, money saving was all that mattered. By routing the railroad through Coe’s land, the distance traveled to Cincinnati was greatly reduced. And so several coal mines sprang up, which led to further investigation and discovery of a rich supply of it in the immediate area. One thing led to another and the mining town of Moonville came to be.
Moonville was a small town. So small that during its peak years in the 1870s, the population was little over a hundred. The name given to this town it is believed to be in honor of a man named Moon who once operated a store in the town.
Years later, the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad was sold to Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O). With this move, the rail line became part of a vital route from St. Louis to Washington, DC. Traffic on the railroad increased dramatically, though the town itself stated to sink as the mines ran out of coal and were closed, one by one. The last family to leave the town of Moonville did so in 1947. Almost all of the buildings were gone by the 1960s, and little remained to mark the site.
As a town, it was isolated deep in the woods and with almost no town in its close proximity. The nearest neighbors were the towns of Hope or Mineral. In order to get to get from Moonville to either of this towns, the folks from Moonville had to walk the train tracks. Even today, Vinton County remains as the most wild and heavily forested county in Ohio.
Needless to say, walking the train tracks was dangerous. It was made even more hazardous by the two long trestles in the area and the long Moonville tunnel. One of these trestles stood over Raccoon Creek 50 yards (46 metres) away from the tunnel mouth. During the 1920s around six people lost their lives either on the bridges or the tunnel.
The last of the series of fatalities happened in 1986 when a 10-year-old girl was struck by a locomotive on the trestle in front of the tunnel.
After the town was long gone, the ghost stories started to appear. Nightly visions of a woman in her forties were seen by hikers. They reported that she was dressed all in white, wearing clothes that were not from this century and made no noise. One of the hikers tried to talk to her, but she just looked at them and never stopped walking for a moment. She disappeared just around the corner of the tunnel.
This ghost story is not the only one. Numerous tales appeared and reappeared through the years, ranging from the ghostly woman all the way to a headless conductor of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad and even an eerie swinging lantern.