Writers love intriguing stories, and I found plenty of stories to share after attending several writers' conferences at Punderson State Park.
Legend says Lemuel Punderson, who settled in the area in 1802, drifted out on Punderson Lake one day in a bathtub before pulling the plug and drowning. This seems to be the first in a series of stories about mysterious deaths at Punderson, but it was by no means the last.
Here are few more Punderson mysteries:
- In 1885, several children reportedly died in a fire that destroyed the Wales Hotel, across the lake from the present-day Punderson Lodge. Could this be the source of ghostly children's laughter many Punderson visitors and employees report hearing in the lodge when there are no children in the building?
- People report seeing a man resembling W.B. Cleveland, who owned the property after Lemuel Punderson. Cleveland lost his business in 1918 before realizing his dream of developing a private hunting and fishing club at the site. His grandson speculates that if Cleveland haunts Punderson, it may be because of his love for the property and wish to be buried there.
- Detroit millionaire Karl Long purchased the property in the late 1920s and began constructing the English Tudor-style mansion we know today as Punderson Manor. He lost his fortune in the 1929 stock market crash, and some say he killed himself in the mansion's attic. In 1979, several park employees reported seeing a man hanging by the neck from a rope tied to the rafters of the lodge's lounge, watching the image for three hours until it faded in the morning light.
The State of Ohio acquired the property in 1948, completing the mansion, opening it as a lodge in 1956 and adding a new wing in 1982.
There are no death records or other evidence to support some tales, but many stories come from credible sources like long-time employees and visitors who know nothing of Punderson's past.
Televisions, water faucets and lights inexplicably turn off and on in the middle of the night. Guests complain of loud noises coming from unoccupied rooms. Others report hearing ghostly laughter accompanied by cold blasts of air when there is no breeze or open window nearby.
A woman at one of my conferences sensed an unseen visitor sitting on the bed in her room in the lodge's notoriously haunted older wing, an account similar to other stories I found online.
Curious? Skeptical? Join Nick Fischbach, Ohio State Park Regional Manager of Law Enforcement and long-time park manager, for a "Haunted History Tour" at Punderson Manor. Tours are free, but reservations are required.
The lodge recently added October 14 to this year's tour calendar and plans more tours for next summer and fall.
What is your favorite Ohio ghost story or haunted happening?