Deep within the Zaleski State Forest, near the edge of Vinton County, Ohio, are the remnants of a community cemetery atop a hill, a few foundation stones scattered throughout the woods, and the 255 foot-long, brick lined tunnel that still bears the name of the coal-mining community that once called the area home: Moonville.
Other notable stories involve the purported ghost of a woman whose appearance is often followed by a scent of lavender. Coincidently, there have been at least three recorded cases of women killed by trains around Moonville. Another haunting spirit originated in 1886 when David “Baldie” Keeton was said to have been murdered and then run over by several trains before he was found the next morning. It is said that he now sits on top of the entrance to the Moonville tunnel and throws rocks at visitors as they pass underneath.
Very little visibly remains of the houses, the old general store, the depot, or the post office that once comprised the town Moonville. Even the rail line, which was used up until the mid 1980’s, has been long since removed along with the bridges and trestles. A short walk from the tunnel, down the rail trail, across Raccoon Creek, and up the hill you can still
find the foundation stones of the old school house, and on the very top of the hill are the last remaining headstones of a cemetery that was said to have been “buried full” by a former resident of Moonville while being interviewed in 1977 by Rich Dahn, a historian associated with the Moonville Rail Trail Association. The Moonville Rail
Trail Association is a non-profit organization that has been working since 2001 to convert the old rail line into a trail for public use. They maintain the tunnel and the trail and are working to replace the bridges to improve access to the trail, and in 2016 installed the Neil Shaw Memorial Bridge across Raccoon Creek. Due to these efforts Moonville is more accessible than ever and even hosts events like Midnight at Moonville, a Halloween-themed festival in October.
Whenever you visit, however, be on the lookout for ghostly lights in the tunnel or the haunting scent of lavender, and maybe throw a rock to the top of the tunnel for Baldie.