Urban legends

Hiking with ghosts through Five Rivers MetroParks

by Kristen Wicker

Photo: Known by many names, the stone tower at Hills & Dales MetroPark was once rumored to be haunted.

With its stunning colors and crisp temps, fall is an awesome time to get outdoorsy—and to explore the season’s spooky vibe by visiting some ghostly remnants of days long past in your Five Rivers MetroParks.

The preservation and interpretation of the Dayton region’s natural heritage is at the core of MetroParks’ mission, but telling the story of these special places wouldn’t be complete without the cultural history that helped shape them. Protecting our region’s lands also means protecting important remnants of our human journey.

Nearby ancient ruins

Indeed, that human history winds back thousands of years: Twin Creek MetroPark contains a prehistoric Indian hilltop mound, Carlisle Fort, built 2,000 years ago. Once thought to be a fortification, archeologists now believe it was a ceremonial location for the Hopewell culture.

Get there: Find these ancient ruins in a beautiful, forested area. Park at the trailhead near the entrance at 8502 Chamberlain Rd. Hike the 1.6-mile green trail and look for the Hopewell Earthwork marker.

Mysterious stone tower

Perhaps one of the best-known remnants of the past can be found at Hills & Dales MetroPark. Known by a number of names—including Frankenstein’s Castle, Patterson’s Castle, Lookout Tower, and the Witch’s Tower—the turret-shaped stone tower in the park was built by the National Youth Administration and opened in approximately 1940. Its original purpose was to provide visitors a beautiful view of the Community Country Club. The structure’s original wooden roof was lost long ago, and, due to safety concerns, the tower has been sealed so no one can enter, but it remains a favorite Hills & Dales landmark.

According to urban legend, the tower is haunted by a young woman who died in 1967, when lightning struck the tower while she and a companion were inside. Supposedly, shortly after the tragic death, park-goers started to report seeing burnt images of her, staining the inside walls. The park repeatedly tried to paint over these images, but to no avail. This spread several rumors, and the tower became a mecca for curious observers, which led it to be closed for safety and to prevent vandalism.

Get there: Park in the lot at 100 Deep Hollow Rd. and take the 1.5-mile Adirondack trail. Continue on the ½-mile Inspiration Point trail and check out Old Barn Camp to imagine what life was like at the turn of the 20th century in Dayton.

A by-gone village

While not dogged by rumors of ghosts, another distinctive remnant of the past can be found at Taylorsville MetroPark, home to the once-bustling village of Tadmor. One of the most important centers of transportation in early Ohio history and known as the original crossroads of America, Tadmor was located on the National Road, the Miami and Erie Canal, and Dayton and Michigan Railroad line. Residents hoped Tadmor’s strategic location would help it prosper, but successive flooding on the Great Miami River stifled growth. Tadmor was finally abandoned when a dam constructed by the Miami Conservancy District in 1922 to retain water during flooding made the site uninhabitable.

Get there: Follow the Great Miami River Bikeway north of the dam about 1.25 miles to the site of Tadmor. Park in the lot at the 2005 U.S. 40 entrance. Not much remains of Tadmor, so look for the historical marker to know when you’ve arrived at this ghost town.

Postwar amusement park

Another destination once bustling with activity can be found at Possum Creek MetroPark: Argonne Forest Amusement Park. You can still see traces of this 1930s park dedicated to a World War I military unit. Find a low, L-shaped wall that once was part of the park’s swimming pool, the remnants of three street cars and a large cement square that may have been part of the dance floor. Argonne Forest was built to give people, most of whom were urban-dwellers at the time, a respite from the city’s crowds and congestion.

Get there: From the park’s entrance at 4790 Frytown Rd., park in the first lot and hike the 1.4-mile purple trail loop.

Live in the past

At Carriage Hill MetroPark, the past is still alive at the Historical Farm, where you can get a feel for 1880s farm life—a time when the sustainable farm, home and craft practices we see today were simply practical. Within the preserved house and farm buildings, such activities as blacksmithing, woodworking, cooking, quilting, and canning are demonstrated. The Arnold family once lived on the farm, and the family’s diaries, account books and more are on display in the Carriage Hill MetroPark Visitor Center.

Also at the park, check out the human-made Cedar Lake, created on the location of an old farm. Visitors, who once lived at the farm that’s now underwater, occasionally stop by.

Get there: Access the Historical Farm, Visitor Center and Cedar Lake from the park entrance at 7800 E. Shull Rd.

For more information about Five Rivers MetroParks’ history please visit MetroParks.org/History.
Reach DCP freelance writer Kristen Wicker at KristenWicker@DaytonCityPaper.com.

Tags: , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Got an Opinion?


We are interested to hear what you think.  Please send us a message. [contact-form 4 “Opinion”]  

Springfield’s hidden gem


Referred to as an American Folk Art site, I didn’t know what I expected on my journey to Springfield’s Hartman […]

Debate 7/17: Flag on the Play


Q: Should persons with certain known behavioral tendencies such as suicide or violence be prohibited from owning guns? Legislatures across […]

Conspiracy Theorist 7/17: Hooray for Domino’s

Year after year, the same roads are torn up and road crews patch them. But they never really repair them. […]

On Your Marc 7/17: Good any day

First, a funny story. Larry Lee, the big tackle from Roth High School, for a number of reasons decided he […]

The Cult, Stone Temple Pilots, and Bush at Rose

CULT 2016 Tim Cadiente-2

“Rock and roll never forgets,” the classic rock song goes, and Billy Duffy, guitarist and founding member of the British […]