Monday, August 24, 2009

Helltown, Ohio

In 1974, the federal government began buying up property near Boston, Ohio to develop a national park. According to a number of people in the area, the government began buying the property to cover up a massive radiation spill. So goes the legend of Helltown.

The town of Boston, Ohio was settled in 1806 making it the oldest village in Summit County. The town was a mill town most notable for several paper mills and the area became collectively known as Boston Mills. In 1974, the government began buying up property for use as a national park. They used eminent domain to force the people out of their homes and people left in droves. What these people felt were summed up by a statement scrawled on the wall of an abandoned home: "Now we know how the Indians felt".

Once the government obtained the houses, they typically boarded them up, nailed "Property of U.S. Government" signs on them and then the house stood until the government could get around to demolishing it. Sometimes the house would be intentionally burned to help the local fire departments train. Soon, the government fell behind on demolishing the houses and the abandoned and foreboding houses left standing were an odd sight to see in what was essentially the middle of a National Park. And that is how the rumors began.

The first legend is the government cover-up of a chemical spill in the area. There has never been a chemical spill in the area and this was most likely made up as an excuse for all of the "Property of U.S. Government" signs posted on all the houses. In a nearby cemetery, rumors of a ghost, moving tree and a high number of children buried in the cemetery abound. The ghost is said to always be sitting on a bench--the cemetery, Boston Cemetery, does not have a bench. As for trees moving, it's probably just ghost hunters, unfamiliar with the area and the cemetery, who originally thought a tree was at one spot, only to see the tree in a different spot. The children buried in the cemetery are said to be victims of a bus crash and while, like any cemetery, there are the graves of children there, their cause of death is not from a bus crash.

As for the school bus, prior to the 1974 buyout, a family bought a house. Since the house, at the time, was unlivable and needed dire repairs, the family needed a place to live so they parked a school bus in their yard and lived in that until the house was ready. When the government bought the land, the family had no use for the bus and left it behind--just like with other useless farm equipment and automobiles. Also, the local churches are used as cover-ups for cults and other Satanic rituals. The churches are never open for mass, hang upside down crosses, angry men live in the basements and there are always candles burning in the windows.

The are two churches in the area that this rumor is a part of. The first is Boston Community Church. The church uses its basement to house offices and classroom so any man in there was probably an employee and got angry because a group of teenagers were spying on him. The other church, Mother of Sorrows, is reported to have the upside down crosses which is actually true but the "crosses" are part of the church's gothic revival design. And candles being lit in the windows could actually be true as many churches allow people to light candles and keep them lit in honor of a lost loved one.

Another legend is about the House in the Woods. It reportedly has a light on on the top floor all the time. The house is actually a local hostel, for weary, young travelers. The light stays on because the hostel accepts people 24-hours a day. Signs throughout the area show the direction to the hostel. Interestingly, shortly after the signs were erected, the light started being referred to being in the "school bus house".

There are also a lot of rumors about the many dead-end roads in the area. People note that even though the road is a dead end, the road still continues into the woods. While this is true on Stanford Road, the road is closed for a reason--the townships that are required to maintain it didn't want to spend the money or take responsibility if someone did get hurt on the road, so they closed it. The other dead end is on Main Street but Main Street dead ends at the cemetery.

Helltown is another example of urban legends gone wild. The police presence in the area has been increased and the cemetery and people's property has been vandalized repeatedly. Remember that if you do decide to visit any place mentioned here or on any other websites, obey any posted signs, leave only footprints and take only pictures.
The best picture of the "school bus house" I could find. Located near Boston Mills, Ohio.

2 comments:

Dustin Hall said...

From the article, it first sounds like the Government bought out the whole village, but you say there is a hostel there in the present tense. Do people still really live around this derelict village? Any idea what the Gov plans on doing with these remaining houses and churches?

Pretty fascinating write up. I was really HOPING you would have a confirmed ghost story here. I guess that's how these things start.

Anonymous said...

people do live on stanford which is the "road to the end of the world" the weird road the drops off. but not many people live there as far as i can tell...it's a really creepy part of ohio...interesting thing is boston mills ski place is right across the street from hell town.