Munchkinville / Tiny Town

 

Munchkinville / Handlebar Ranch 2014

Munchkinville / Handlebar Ranch 2014

A community of evil, retired circus midget’s in Cincinnati? It doesn’t get much creepier than that! But, is it true? Well, no, but the so called village where they lived is sorta kinda real, or rather, it used to be.

Urban legend says that, just north of Cincinnati, close to Mt. Rumpke, is a village of tiny houses. This village is inhabited by the before mentioned retired circus midget’s. They apparently shun the outside word. If anyone tries to approach or enter their village, they come out yelling and throwing rocks to drive the trespassers away. Some say that carnival or circus music is always playing there.

As I said before, the so called ‘village’ did exist, but it wasn’t at all what legends claims it was. This was Handlebar Ranch. Below is an article from the Cincinnati post from several years ago, written by David Wecker, that explains it all.

           How Anna Ritter’s Little Story Got Out of Hand

By David Wecker

   Anna Gay Ritter heard one time that a good way to ruin a person’s business is to make a joke out of it. At any rate, she’s not sure how all the stories about Munchkin and Munchkinland got started. She just wishes they’d go away.

   But they won’t. They pass from one generation to the next, like some bad urban myth, except that these stories have a rural setting. They’re vague stories about a group of tiny people who live in tiny houses with tiny windows; stories that somehow have come to center on Anna’s land. It might be funny, if it weren’t happening to Anna.

   To be fair, Anna’s 30-acre farm in Colerain Township does have an odd look. She moved here in 1940, with her husband, Percy. It was his idea to call it the Handlebar Ranch Inc. She and Percy were considered city folk then. There was no Mt. Rumpke at the southern edge of the ranch, and their road was a gravel lane.

   At first, Percy was in the bicycle rental business. He had 20 bikes and charged a quarter an hour. Then he got into the hayride business and bought a team of Belgian draft horses to pull his haywagon.

   Percy had an eccentric way of seeing things. Peggy Pottenger Sickmann – who grew up on a neighboring farm and has been helping out at the ranch for nearly half a century, since she was 10 – says Percy was the kind who did a little bit here, a little bit there.

   He built a home halfway up a steep hill of stone, hand-hewn logs, mortar, stucco, tile and boards, with a square turret and a balcony that looks down on the Handlebar Ranch Inc.

   The ranch itself could be a textbook example of vintage roadside Americana. It looks like a miniature frontier village – a surreal collection of little buildings, all made from the same odd materials as the house. There are dance floors indoors and out, picnic tables, pavilions, barbecue grills and what he called a rathskeller – all decorated with Anna’s hand-painted Indian totems and cartoony cowboy murals, all in a jaunty wild west motif. Anna is still quite a talented artist.

   Percy died in 1990, but Anna kept up the hayride business. If you’re having a party, she’ll dispatch a haywagon. Or she’ll book a hayride for a fraternity or a sorority at Miami University or the University of Cincinnati. Just before Christmas, a group from Crittenden hired one of her wagons for a hayride at Fountain Square.

   But I’m ahead of the story. Years ago – Anna doesn’t remember exactly when – Percy came home with a couple of cast-iron school bells he’d bought somewhere. He put them up below the house, at the edge of the road. That was when it started.

   ‘Kids would come in the middle of the night and ring the bells,’ Peggy says.

   ‘The Ritters didn’t want them annoying the neighbors, so they’d come out on the balcony and yell at them. And to those kids down on the road, looking up at that balcony, Anna and Percy must’ve looked kind of small.’

   Anna is 5-foot-3; Percy was maybe 5-9. It’s the only explanation for the stories that Anna and Peggy can imagine. Anna eventually turned the bells upside down and took to planting flowers in them. But even now, the stories persist. Ridiculous stories. Only a handful of people understand how hurtful they are to Anna.

   Rick Heimtold, a 20-year-old cadet with Colerain Township police, has heard the stories.

   ‘You mean the ones about munchkinland?’ he said.

   ‘Yeah, I used to go looking for it. We all did, back in high school. There were supposed to be little people there. And if you came around where they lived, they’d throw rocks at you. Those were the stories, anyway.

   ‘So kids were always looking for it. Sometimes, you’d find it. Sometimes, you didn’t. But there’s all kinds of stories about little people living there.’

   They show up in the middle of the night in their cars, looking for Munchkins and behaving in the crummiest possible manner. If school’s out, Anna has learned she can pretty well figure on a carload of them showing up the night before, screaming and yelling, making a ruckus, sometimes vandalizing her buildings and hollering obscenities.

   Anna’s no prude. She’s no weakling either. Twice a day, she climbs the difficult hill to the barn at the top of her valley to feed a sway-back horse that, she says, is older than she is.

   ‘I’ve got the hide of a crocodile,’ she says. ‘But it makes me angry these stories won’t go away.’

Sadly, Munchkinville is no more. Rumpke bought the property a few years ago, and the village was destroyed. But the legend lives on.

 

Here is the site as it looks today

Pictures used below are not ours, they were pulled from various sites on the web

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Munchkinville / Tiny Town

  1. been there quite a few times and very sad to hear it’s gone. i’ve read about everything i can find on this place but nothing answers the main question i have…
    WHY were some buildings and things built so small?? i mean, i know the true story, but always wondered just why Percy would’ve built some of those things in the way that he did. articles mention how the Ritters woulda looked small up on the balcony, but more to the point, there WERE quite a few “tiny” things out there. doors and windows waaay smaller than the norm, buildings that would be tough to stand in. this article mentions some…
    http://www.examiner.com/article/the-handlebar-ranch
    after finding out it’s true origins as a ranch years ago, i always wondered about this. kinda figured maybe the Ritters had Shetland ponies or the like, and built things in scale scale to emphasize that for the kids. if anyone know WHY things were small, i’d love to know. i’ll check back

  2. Cool article. I remember hearing the stories and going to look for the munchkins lol. Sorry Anna & Percy, I never knew this story behind it.
    Angela, there small because that’s how buildings were built back in the day. People didn’t have money and put together what they could. There’s no scientific reason, life was just different back in the day.
    Thanks for having this website and sharing this story.

    1. I went to munchkinland about 10 years ago with my boyfriend his best friend and his cousin, I never heard the story he made it a lot worse than the real story me and his younger cousin both thought we were going to be seriously injured by the little evil people who would drag us from the car and beat us with rocks once the car “died” or so he claimed that’s when he really started messing with us after it was all over and he pulled out of the neighborhood telling us he was lying for the most part we wanted to choke him at first but we had a sense of humor too and after we got over him scaring us half to death its a story we often tell others about for Halloween we laugh about it now and love the memories we made that night we appreciate his fun loving spirit he was always the the one who made any night a night ud talk about for years! I love u Dustin! I hope to see u soon!

  3. When I was 18 my cousin scared me to death taking me here he told me the “munchkins” would come out chase our car down throw rocks at us and try to open our doors and pull us from the car he said the would attack us with bats probably beat us to death for coming on their property they didn’t like strangers coming there at this point in time I’d never heard of this place we accidentally pulled into rumpke dump and got chased out by security who refused to tell us where “munchkinland” was, but we found it on our own and when we saw the tiny houses with tiny doors and windows I freaked out told him to get out of that neighborhood asap! I did not want to die! Lol we were not rude or loud in anyway my cousin was just trying to.scare me which he had already done but feeling the need to make me panic even more he turned off the car and pretended it died right in front of the ranch and he couldn’t get it to start back up he pretended to panic acting like he was just as scared as I was and I was about in tears really believing that a bunch of little ppl were about to come at us throwing rocks and trying to pull us from the.car pissed off that we were in their neighborhood that’s when he finally decided he’d scared me enough he started the car and took off out of the neighborhood laughing then he told me what he believed was the truth that it was actually just an old neighborhood that little ppl have lived in for along time but they were just normal little people who wouldn’t hurt anyone it’s just a myth a scary story that he added to to make it worse for me I will never forget that night or the way the homes looked but what really caught my eye was the old handlebar ranch (oh I left this part out he had told me it was a bar and the later it was the more drunk they were and the more violent they became!) Even through my fear I couldn’t help but admire the old building I wish it wad still there I didn’t have a camera, of coarse if I had I wouldn’t have been brave enough to take a picture it was midnight the flash would certainly have caught the attention of these evil munchkins who would certainly hurt if not kill us for being there lol thank u for the pictures it brought back fun ( though I didn’t feel that way att time ) memories of me and my cousin when we were young and I was nieve he was just mean lol no he was just creating memories I’d never forget though I hated him for it then now I look back and laugh and think about all the crazy things we did together… I miss him!

  4. I used to live across the street from the so called Munchkin Land. I remember the cars stopping and checking things out. I was a teenager when I lived there and never new any of the stories about the place until I moved there. What was always funny is my mom was barely 4’10” so when they would stop and see her they would always ask if she was one of the midgets that lived there. We still joke about it with my mom today. I always liked living next door. I miss living there not only is Handlebar Range gone but the house I use to live in. Rumpke is growing bigger and bigger with ever year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s