Gambier, Ohio

On another section of our journey through "Haunted Ohio", we mentioned a place called Sinclair Community College, which may have more that its share of ghosts. This section concerns another Ohio school that not only has more than its share of phantoms and spirits.... but I would say that it is infested with them!

According to the legends of the campus, many students refer to a spot at this very haunted college as the "Gates of Hell", thanks to the numerous frightening tales that make the circuit of the student body each new semester. The "gates" that they are referring to are the two columns that flank the Middle Path through the center of campus. Obviously, this is a figurative name of the path, but there may be a more literal diabolical reference on campus.... some claim that a doorway to the dark side is hidden in the basement of Mather Hall.

There are numerous ghostly tales at Kenyon College. The ghost of a student who committed suicide is said to still walk the corridors of Norton Hall. A student who died before she could attend classes is said to haunt Manning Hall. Another student, who hanged himself is supposed to haunt the attic of Lewis.

Werthheimer Hall is haunted by a ghost who has been heard running in the building. Shaffer Hall even has a ghost who likes to swim... even after the building was changed into a dance studio in 1984, the sounds of someone swimming could still be heard. Hill Theater is believed to be haunted by the ghosts of two students who were killed in a drunk-driving accident near the site.

Several of the most famous ghosts here are said to be the spirits of some of Kenyon's real-life tragedies.

The ghost of Caples Hall is that of a young man who fell down an elevator shaft several years ago. The story of the ghost's origin differs slightly in each telling.... some say the boy accidentally stepped into an open elevator shaft, some claim he was pushed and the official story says that the elevator was stopped on purpose and the boy fell while attempting to ride the top of the elevator. Needless to say, he was killed and has been haunting the place since 1979.

One of the longest-running ghost stories dates back to 1905 and the Delta Kappa Epsilon tragedy. Stuart Pierson was struck and killed by a train while standing on a railroad bridge over the Kokosing River. Every year, he returns to the fraternity house and stares out a window on the fourth floor of Old Kenyon. Windows are opened and shut and residents hear footsteps upstairs.... even where this is no floor.

The tragic Old Kenyon fire in 1949 killed nine male students in the building. The dorm burned to the ground, but was later rebuilt and the ghosts have returned to the new building. Students have reported seeing nine legless specters hovering in the hallways. The ghosts are also known for shaking people awake at night, shouting "Ed, wake up, Fire!" and leaving 1949 yearbooks lying open to a page with the names of the nine students listed.

Kenyon College is located in Gambier, Ohio which can be found in the central region of the state. It is northeast of Columbus and just east of Mount Vernon on Highway 229.

Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor

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