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Scary Athens, Ohio and the Athens Lunatic Asylum

By Yona Williams    2/12/10

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If you've ever taken a trip to Ohio University, then you've paid a visit to the small town of Athens, Ohio, where many paranormal enthusiasts are already aware of the ghost stories regarding this location. Don’t let the size or tranquil nature of the town fool you. Some of the tales have includes pagan cults, train conductors with no heads, and gruesome killings of livestock. In this article, you will learn more about one of the most haunted places in the town – the Athens Lunatic Asylum.

Infamous Rumors

If you live in town, chances are you've heard some of the infamous rumors pertaining to the happenings of Athens, Ohio. For instance, legend has it that when the town is plotted on a map, you can connect the five major graveyards in the vicinity to form the symbol of a pentagram. The typical ghost tale that involves Athens usually mentions a strange ritual playing an important role. Many tales regarding the city have a history that traces back more than 100 years when the town had ties to the Spiritualist movement of the 1800s. One ghost story speaks of Jonathan Koons, a poor farmer who was supposedly guided by ghosts to construct a room for spirits so that apparitions could appear and make contact in the afterlife.

The Most Haunted Place in Athens

The Athens Lunatic Asylum has a reputation for being the most haunted place in Athens. Caring for numerous patients with violent tendencies and performing hundreds of lobotomies, the insane asylum in Athens conducted business from 1874 to 1993. Other patients that called the asylum their home were Civil War veterans, people with mental disabilities, and children. After it closed its doors, the hospital has become a center for ghost stories. The university now owns the asylum grounds, and it’s the students who attend the school that have a knack for keeping such tales alive.

One of the more popular tales concerning the asylum mentions a deaf-mute patient named Margaret, who is believed to have escaped from her room and accidentally, became trapped in an empty ward. It is said that she died of exposure and that her body wasn’t uncovered until weeks later, where it had been decomposing. Legend has it that her dead body had left behind a stain on the floor that is still visible to this day.

Today, the asylum is called 'the Ridges,' as after the original structure became the property of Ohio University, the complex and surrounding grounds were given a new name. The majority of buildings has undergone restoration and is in use by the school. A nature preserve now decorates the surrounding region.

Interesting Facts About Athens Lunatic Asylum

·    During the 1950s, a man dubbed the Father of the Transorbital Lobotomy (Dr. Walter Jackson Freeman) performed more than 200 lobotomies on patients. The procedure was used as a cure for mental illness, where surgery took place on the brain. It is no longer a credited method of treatment.

·    Between the 1970s and 1980s, Billy Milligan, a man with multiple personality disorder and a convicted rapist was a patient at the asylum.

·    The Fox Family Channel's television show "Scariest Places On Earth" featured the Ridges.

·    According to the British Society for Psychical Research, Athens, Ohio was scary enough to earn the 13th place on a list for the most haunted places on earth.


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