Visiting Moonville Tunnel is a curious roadtrip to make while visiting Southeastern Ohio. Located near Lake Hope State Park and Zaleski State Forest, finding Moonville Tunnel is definitely an adventure. Gravel roads and a lack of cell phone service add to the mystery and lore of the area!
What’s the story behind Moonville Tunnel?
The Moonville Tunnel was constructed in 1856 because a local resident named Samuel Coe gave the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad Company permission to build a rail line across his property. Mr. Coe was hoping that this line would then give him the means to ship the clay and coal off of his property.
The town of Moonville in Vinton County quickly grew to over 100 residents by the 1870s – most of the residents were coal miners or railroad workers. By the 1900s the town was mostly abandoned, as coal mines dried up. The last residents left in 1947. All that remains of the town are the eerie Moonville Tunnel and the cemetery. Today, a multipurpose trail follows much of the old railroad line, which includes the tunnel.
Visiting the Tunnel
The Moonville Tunnel is located at Hope-Moonville Rd, McArthur, OH 45651.
Moonville Tunnel is reached via gravel roads. It is approximately 15 minutes from Lake Hope Lodge and approximately 45 minutes from Ash Cave. If you’re visiting Hocking Hills, it’s an easy road trip! Make sure you download the map to Moonville before leaving home or your Hocking Hills vacation spot because as I mentioned, cell phone service is basically non-existent. (..e. If there’s ever a nuclear war, this is the place I would choose to hide).
How to know that one has arrived? Look for a gravel parking lot adjacent to an old iron bridge. The bridge has become a bit of a destination itself- with locks left by adventurers looking to leave their mark.
Once the bridge is crossed, it’s easy to see the tunnel. The path through the tunnel is flat but unpaved, a stroller or wheelchair could be used with some care.
Is the Moonville Tunnel haunted?
While the town of Moonville was deserted by humans, it is considered to be inhabited by ghosts!! Believers say that the folks who were killed along the railroad line have come back to haunt the tunnel. There have been accounts of a lighted lantern “walking” through the tunnel without a living owner.
Even though I’m not a believer in ghosts, apparently even historic newspapers reported that railroad engineers often saw the ghost of former engineer, Theodore Lawhead, who was killed at Moonville when his train collided with another near the tunnel.
Others claim to hear the thunder of the wheels and the whistle of the train, even though the rails were removed long ago.
The day we visited Moonville, I didn’t have any bad intuition, nor even feel a shiver. Maybe I was too busy running after a toddler, but I didn’t find the place to be out of the ordinary, other than the fact that it’s very isolated. I wouldn’t visit here with anyone who would drive away and leave me for dead! Ha!! No seriously, Moonville Tunnel is worth the visit for its mystery and lore, but I wouldn’t visit after dark.
Have you been to Moonville Tunnel? Do you think it is haunted?
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