The infamous HELL IS REAL sign, one of my favorite landmarks (and something I regularly pass on my way to my hometown). Photo/Andrea Hopkins

Call me biased, but I am of the belief that Ohio is one of (if not the) most haunted states in America. I am not referring to the number of major haunted locations, but the energy and atmosphere of the state as a whole. We are in a unique location that connects major regions of the United States, which brings in all of the folklore and surrealism that comes with them. The uneasy emptiness of the Midwest, the apocalyptic atmopshere of the Rust Belt, the spirtualism of Appalachia, plus the South and Middle Atlantic inching in. These regions are reflected in the geography as well: Ohio has flat and hilly countryside, deep forests, ravines, mountains, swamps, and lakes. We have the small towns you see in slasher movies and ghost towns kept alive with stories of violent death.


Creatures

Loveland Frog

One of Ohio's most notable cryptids, the Loveland Frog were first spotted in 1955, in the city of Loveland. In total they've been spotted at least 4 times, with the most recent alleged sighting being in 2016. The most reliable sighting (by Mark Matthews) debunks most of the sightings as just an iguana.

The original legend starts with a travelling businessman driving down a remote country road late at night. He spots three figures on the side of road, each standing no larger than 4 feet tall. The man stops and observes the creatures, noting their leathery skin and froglike faces, before being startled after one of them lifts a strange wand-like device that creates sparks.

They were spotted again on March 3rd, 1972 by Ray Shockey, a Loveland police officer. Officer Shockey was patrolling along the Little Miami River when he witnessed a strange animal scramble across the road in front of his car. He, like in the original sighting, described the creature being around 4 feet tall. He watched as the creature climbed over a guardrail and jump towards the river.

Two weeks later, another police officer named Mark Matthews spotted a mysterious animal not far from Shockey's reported sighting. He described it as resembling "an iguana missing its tail," and assumed it was someone's escaped pet. Officer Matthews shot the animal and placed it into his trunk to show the creature to Officer Shockey himself. Officer Shockey confirmed it was what he saw two weeks previously, debunking these last two sightings as a wild iguana.

Finally, in 2016, a couple shot video of what they claimed was the real Loveland Frogman. They spotted it while playing Pokémon GO, and claimed it was standing and walking on its hind legs. They managed to get a short video of it as well.

Sources: WCPO, Gadsden Times

Ohio's Bigfoot: Minerva Monster/Grassman, Cedar Bog Monster

Ohio's Grassman is best described as the state's variation on Bigfoot/Sasquatch.

A creature currently known as the Minerva Monster was first officially sighted in August 1978 in Minerva, but signs of its presence manifested a bit before the creature itself was seen. A pet german shephard belonging to residents Evelyn and Howe Clayton was found dead, its neck mysteriously broken. A few days later, their grandchildren ran home, frightened after spotting a "hairy monster" in a gravel pit outside. The Claytons investigated, and ended up seeing the creature themselves. It was 6-7 feet tall, covered in matted hair, and was fidgeting with some litter inside the gravel pit.

The monster, also known regionally as the Grassman, continued to appear in their yard several times. Frighteningly, they once witnessed it peering in through a window, but it was gone by the time Howe Clayton returned with his rifle, leaving only a few footprints and a lingering smell. Not long after, the creature was spotted at the top of a nearby hill one night. A month later they witnessed the same thing, but this time there were two figures, and it was in broad daylight.

The Grassman returned so many times that other members of the Clayton family, their friends, and even the local sheriff witnessed it as well. The Minerva case is one of the most famous Bigfoot sightings of all time, making the Grassman a popular subject in cryptid hunter communities.

Sources: Weird US

Crosswick Monster

Only 20 miles away from Loveland, Crosswick is a very, very small unicorporated community with no official recorded population, along with a single road running right through it. The last sighting of its local cryptid was 200 years ago, yet its memory is kept alive to this day thanks to 60 people witnessing it.

In May 1882, Ed and Joe Lynch were fishing in Satterthwaites Run, a local stream. The two boys heard strange sounds coming from the grass behind them, and quickly ran in terror after a massive lizard leaped out of the tall grass towards them. The creature was faster than the two brothers, and it managed to catch Ed in its massive jaws. It began dragging the screaming child back towards the river's edge, presumably to its den. Three local men, Jacob Horn, George Peterson, and Allen Jordan, heard the boys screaming and quickly ran to help. The trio located Ed, still trapped in the lizard's jaws, slowly being dragged into a dead log. They ran to save Ed, and the monster dropped the badly wounded boy, scurrying deeper into the log.

A hunting party was quickly formed after Ed was taken to the local doctor. Dozens of men gathered and chopped at the log, eventually forcing the Crosswick Monster back into view. It was described as 12-14 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet long, and it was able to escape the stunned hunting posse, running to a nearby cavern, never to be seen again.

Sources:

Locations

"Helltown"

Helltown (actually called Boston Mills Historic District) is a hotbed of urban legends.

Now located inside Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Boston Mills was settled in the early 1800's, growing in population after the opening of the Ohio-Erie Canal. It further grew in 1880 after construction of the Valley Railway, and again from the arrival of the Cleveland—Akron Bag Company in 1900.

By the 1960's, the environmental movement was in full swing, resulting in legislation to allow the National Park Service to claim and purchase land in the name of creating historical places or parks.

In 1974, The U.S government created the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, claiming the land and all of its existing homes. The buildings were boarded up and trespassing signs warned those who came near the area to not enter. Because there were so many buildings claimed by the NPS, they couldn't demolish all of the homes and buildings right away, leaving them boarded up. To visitors unfamiliar with the history of the area, the former townships swallowed up by Cuyahoga Valley looked as if its residents disappeared overnight, leading to rumors. It didn't help that some of these homes were used to train local firefighters, leaving burned out frames that contributed to the creepy abandoned look of the area.

All of the legends I could find have no evidence to support them, and are often the result of assumptions. Some notable legends include a chemical spill government cover-up, a haunted school bus, a satanic church, multiple haunted roads, and a crybaby bridge.

Sources: National Park Service, The Ghosts of Ohio