Ghosts of Ohio
Lore & Legends

Moonville Tunnel

The tiny town of Moonville sprang up in the 1850s as a result of the coal mining that was taking place throughout southeastern Ohio. The Moonville tunnel marked the entrance to the town for the Marietta and Cincinnati railroad. The town itself wasn't around long, maybe 30 years or so, before modern advances in mining made small mining towns like Moonville obsolete. By the time the 1900s rolled around, the town was all but abandoned already. Today, all that remains of the town of Moonville is a small cemetery and the tunnel. Of the two, the ghosts have chosen to make the tunnel their haunting ground.

My Ghostly Name Is…
The only thing that's consistent about the hauntings of the Moonville tunnel is that it's the result being killed in the tunnel. But who, and how, is subject to debate.

The first candidate is simply someone who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes the person is a man who is somehow connected to the railroad, such as a conductor or engineer. In other retellings, the person is someone from the town of Moonville who just got caught on the tracks and was unable to avoid an oncoming train. In some instances, the person hit is a woman and sometimes the woman is pregnant. And if all those different variations aren't enough to make your head spin, then how about the only version that names the person who is hit by the train; Rastus Dexter, who is described as an 8-foot tall African-American.

While no names are ever given, the most complete version regarding the Moonville ghost is the one regarding an epidemic that had swept through the town. As a result, the entire town of Moonville was quarantined trains were ordered not to stop in Moonville anymore. Low on supplies, the people in Moonville came up with a plan. They would send one of their own through the Moonville Tunnel to the outskirts of town with a lantern. The idea was that as the train approached, the man would signal for help with his lantern. Since he would be standing outside the town's limits, the thought was that the conductor would stop the train and help. The plan having been developed, a volunteer was selected and it was decided that he would set out the following day. However, the next day, the volunteer got off to a late start (either because he overslept or was sleeping off a hangover) and as he neared the tunnel, he heard the train approaching. Knowing the train would never stop for him unless he was on the other side of the tunnel and outside the town's limits, the man began sprinting through the darkness, waving his lantern wildly. Sadly, the man never made it through the tunnel as he was struck and killed instantly by the oncoming train. That is why today people report seeing a ghostly lantern walking along the track bed around the old tunnel.

© The Ghosts of Ohio