It’s been a few years since I was at the site of the old Buffalo Ridge Observatory, or as urban legends says, the crematorium. Apparently, the park service has been doing some work back in the woods there.
The Peters Cartridge Company, in Kings Mills, is a favorite of locals when it comes to abandoned or supposedly haunted buildings. Though calling it abandoned isn’t exactly true, but more on that later. While it is commonly called “The Powder Factory,” they didn’t actually make any gun powder at the site. The gun powder was made across the Little Miami River at the Kings Powder facility. The Peters Cartridge Company made shotgun shells and rifle and pistol cartridges., hence the name. Read the rest of this entry »
No ghost stories here (that I’ve heard of), but plenty of tragedy. On this site, on May 28th, 1977, the Beverly Hills Supper Club caught fire, killing 165 people and injuring over 200. The Beverly Hills was a major attraction, about two miles south of Cincinnati in Southgate, Kentucky. It drew talent from all over the country, and was a popular nightspot and illegal gambling house as early as 1937.
So I took a drive out to Handlebar Ranch, or Munchkinville if you prefer to call it. I still get inquiries as to it’s location, and for info on the legends about the place, so I thought we’d show you what it looks like today. The place has been closed and the lot vacant for years, and is actually owned by Rumpke now. All that remains is the wagon wheel gate, the old, wooden bridge, and some cement walls. Now obviously, there never was a town of retired circus midgets here, but it sure made for a good story. If you don’t know the story of Munchkinville, you can read about it HERE. And if you want to see it yourself, It’s located at 11317 Hughes Road in Northern Cincinnati. But, again, no Trespassing…you don’t wanna piss off the midgets!
Photo from www.cincinnati-transit.net/subway.html
I could write for hours talking about all the facts and trivia concerning the never completed Cincinnati Subway tunnels, but instead, i’ll just give you the basics. If you want to know the history and facts about it, and see plenty of pictures, visit Cincinnati-tranit.net. They can tell you the story alot better, and in depth, than I could.
Though you can see the entrance to part of the tunnels from I-75 near Hopple Street, don’t bother trying to get in for a look. If it were that easy, I’d have pics of my own posted here. You used to be able to sneak in, but all the entrances have now been secured, they REALLY don’t want you in there. There are occasionally tours given of parts of the tunnels, but even on those, no cameras are allowed. They are usually given once a year, and they fill up quickly. You can get some info about the tours HERE.
Those who did manage to get inside when it was still possible claim the tunnels are haunted by the ghosts of workers who died during construction. They tell of disembodied voices and moving shadows. But again, chances of getting inside are slim to none, so do yourself a favor, and don’t bother trying. Wait for one of the tours instead.
The abandoned house on Chambers Road, south of Cincinnati in Walton, Kentucky, has been the source of ghost stories for several years. Sitting back off the road, in shambles, lawn over grown, a barn sitting in disrepair nearby, this is the perfect setting for a scary story. The true history of the house is unknown at this time, but like any house in this condition, there’s a few stories floating around about it. Well, really the same story, but with a few variations.
Supposedly, at some point 20 years or more ago, a man and wife lived here with one or 3 children (depends on which version you hear). He was said to have a mental disorder of some of some kind, and eventually snapped. In some versions of the tale, he shot and killed his whole family there in the house before killing himself. Others say he took them all out to the barn and killed them there, along with all the horses. Still others say at least one child tried to get away, but the father chased them down and killed them in a tunnel near the house.
Those that explore the area now claim they hear screams, gun shots, even the horses. There are reports of apparitions in all 3 locations, those of the family running, and of the father chasing after them.
I explored the house, barn, and tunnel, all without incident. There is “something’ splattered on the wall in one of the bedrooms that is supposedly blood. Well, it’s reddish anyway, but I can’t say for sure that it is or isn’t blood. The place is a mess, if you check it out yourself, be cautious. And try not to piss Dad off while your there!
The story of the crematorium in the woods along Buffalo Ridge is the most popular of the legends associated with the road. This crematorium allegedly was a haven for satanic rituals, including human sacrifice. It’s said that many of the bodies that were supposed to be cremated here were instead thrown out into the woods, or into a so-called bottomless lake nearby. Was there an evil purpose for this? Laziness on the part of those working at the crematorium? That part was never explained. At some point it exploded, throwing debris all over the woods. What caused the explosion? Most say it was the hand of God himself, wiping out the evil Satanist.
There is something in the wood there, but not a crematorium. What’s there is the beginning of an observatory that was being built in the late 30′s, but was abandoned after construction began, due to lack of funds. The building was supposed to be built using materials salvaged from the original Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce building, which was destroyed by a fire in 1911. There is a large amount of debris scattered in these woods, aside from the actual ruins, as this is where the rest of the debris from the original building was dumped. It’s worth noting that 6 people were killed in the fire that destroyed the chamber of commerce, maybe the spirits of those killed are connected now to this debris? Heres the full story, from the book “A Brief History of the Cincinnati Astronomical Society”, copyright 1985 – Cincinnati Astronomical Society.
From 1896 to 1910, Dr. Delisle Stewart served as an assistant astronomer at the Cincinnati Observatory of the University of Cincinnati. Research at the observatory during this period centered on the classical stellar measurement techniques. Stewart attempted to persuade the observatory’s director to apply the then new astronomical research tool, astrophotography. Stewart’s interest in astrophotography was intensified by his Harvard training and his previous two years service at Arequipa Observatory, Peru, where he photographed the southern skies. Stewart eventually lost his job over his persistent attempt to persuade the Cincinnati Observatory to adopt astrophotography.
Stewart’s response to his rebuke was to establish a new astronomical society with the goal of building anew observatory dedicated to astrophotographic research. The Society’s name, Cincinnati Astronomical Society, was borrowed from the original CAS, 1845-1870. This was the first professional astronomical society in America. Its telescope and assets were donated in 1870 to the city of Cincinnati. The city subsequently donated the assets to the University of Cincinnati (and its then new Cincinnati Observatory) from whence Stewart was dismissed.
An unusual event occurred in Cincinnati in 1911 that affected, initially positively but eventually negatively,Stewart’s plan to establish a new observatory. The city was rightfully proud of its Chamber of Commerce building that was designed by the famed architect Henry Hobson Richardson. The building received world wide recognition for its beautifully carved, expansive, Romanesque arches. The edifice was destroyed by fire in 1911. Since Stewart was a lover of Richardson’s work and the city loved its Chamber of Commerce Building, Stewart found a way to turn this disaster to his advantage. He offered to build his new observatory based on the architectural plan of the Chamber of Commerce building. The new observatory would then be faced with the Richardson granite stones that were salvaged from destroyed building.
The citizens responded to Stewart’s concept by generously donating services to transfer the huge Richardson stones to a temporary storage site and by buying bonds that were issued by CAS. Sufficient funds were acquired within three years of the fire that CAS acquired 142 acres of land in Miami Heights/Mt. Zion (the current CAS location) for the new observatory site about twenty miles west of Cincinnati. The site’s principal selection criterion was its distance from the city’s light pollution, a problem that then prevented the inner-city located Cincinnati Observatory from performing adequate astrophotography.
All of the solicited funds were consumed in financing the transfer of thousands of tons of the massive Richardson stones from the original downtown site, to their temporary storage site, and finally to Miami Heights/Mt. Zion. The largest stone weighed 27,500 pounds. For the next twenty years Delisle Stewart begged wealthy Cincinnatians to purchase the remaining CAS bonds in order to raise the required funds. Finally, by the end of the 1930′s, sufficient funds were obtained so that the observatory’s construction could begin.
The architects designed a two-story observatory building that included a large central dome and two side domes–each mounted on the end walls. The building’s main floor was designed to include offices, a reception hall and museum of astronomy, a lecture hall, classrooms and the Richardson Memorial Collection. The second floor was to have a library, reading and study rooms photographic dark rooms with separate rooms for plate storage, spectroscopic and photometric laboratories, and rest rooms for the night observers. The domes were to house two large reflecting telescopes and one large refractor telescope. As with icing on a cake, the observatory would be faced with the famous Richardson granites. Assuredly this would be a magnificent facility, one in which the Cincinnati Astronomical Society and the city would be proud.
The effect of the Great Depression took its toll on CAS and its observatory. Construction of the basic outline of the building was completed, and the basement was finished to a degree that the CAS members could use the area for a meeting room. However, the Society lacked the funds to complete the project.
With the death of Dr. Stewart in 1941, the Society lost its driving force. There was no one left with the ability of desire to make another effort to raise the required funds, and somehow, to complete the building. It was ironic that the Richardson arches, which had inspired the construction concept, proved to be its undoing; not a single block of granite was raised into place. The granite stones remained strewn around the observatory site, mockingly tombstone like.
So while there was never anything nefarious here, the scattered debris throughout the woods explains why the supposed crematorium is said to have exploded. It certainly looks like something blew up back there. It is now a known hangout for teens and thrill seekers, but there’s no proof or evidence of satanic rituals, other than the stories that get passed along. I will say venturing into those woods at night takes balls. It’s pitch black, and every noise you hear becomes, in your head, someone moving among the trees. But still, if you decide to venture back to the ruins, use caution! You never know who, or what, may be waiting for you there. The woods there are the property of the Hamilton County Park District, so don’t enter without getting permission first.
To find the observatory, start at Zion Road. Come back down Buffalo Ridge, toward Wesselman, there’s actually a place to pull off the road not far from there. Continue down on the right hand side of the road, and look for a Hamilton County Park District sign, that will have a small, yellow “unauthorized trail” sign next to it. There is a trail here that leads into the woods. Follow it back about 60 or so yards, and the observatory will be to your left
Most of the remains of the observatory have been removed or buried, so what you see pictured below no longer exists. Click HERE to see.
Located at 1313 Vine street in Over the Rhine, Cosmopolitan Hall, which was most recently known as the Warehouse nightclub, has pretty much sat empty since that club closed in 2004. You can’t really tell from the outside, but this is a huge building. It stretches from Vine Street to Republic, and is estimated to have a total of around 27,000 square feet, which includes two sub basements.
It was built in 1855 as a beer garden and dance hall, replacing a brewery that originally existed on the site. From 1878 to 1882 it was called the “Tivoli Beer Garden.” In the 1880s, it became a dance hall, and, in the 1890s,was renamed Cosmopolitan Hall. Over the decades, it was used for several different things, including a Prohibition-era speakeasy, an indoor golf complex, insurance offices, a lighting retailer, a wallpaper store, and, of course, The Warehouse. In the early 1990s, the second floor dance hall was renovated for scenes in the movie A Rage in Harlem.
Below all this sits the 2 sub basements. These are massive, but it’s the lower level that is something to see. It’s a 4,400 square foot, two-chambered vault running the length of the building, with 20 foot, barrel-vaulted stone ceilings. A remnant of the brewery that was here originally, the wood plank floor is rotted and basically destroyed.
Of course, as with any abandoned building this old, there are stories of ghosts and such. Haunted or not, it’s worth checking out if you ever get the chance.