Moonville Tunnel in Zaleski State Forest is one of few reminders of the ghost town of Moonville. In 1856, Samuel Coe gave the Marietta and Cincinnati (M&C) Railroad permission to construct a railroad line across his property. Coe hoped that the line would then provide him an easy means to ship coal and clay on his property. The railroad accepted the offer for two reasons. First, Coe offered the land for free, and second, Coe's land would provide a better route for the track from Marietta to Cincinnati.
The community of Moonville soon sprung up on Coe's land around the railroad. Moonville principally housed miners and a few railroad workers. The town had approximately one hundred residents at its peak in the 1800s. Yet, the community declined, especially during the early 1900s as coal mines started closing. The last family abandoned Moonville in 1947. Today, only the old schoolhouse's foundation, a train tunnel, and the community cemetery remain.
Despite being a ghost town, Moonville remains well known due to its reputation of being haunted. Believers say that ghosts of railroad workers struck down by a train in the Moonville Tunnel still wave their lanterns in the abandoned tunnel.
Today, visitors can hike portions of this abandoned railroad line, which are being converted into walking and biking trails.
From Nelsonville: From US-33, turn south onto OH-278 towards Lake Hope State Park. After passing Lake Hope, turn left on Wheelabout Road. Stay straight on this road. This becomes a gravel path and eventually crosses a one-lane bridge. Park near the old rail bed and cross Raccoon Creek to pick up the trail. Moonville Tunnel is about 100 yards from this point.
From OH-50/32 from Athens: Follow OH-50 as it separates from OH-32. Turn right on OH-278 towards Zaleski. Turn right onto Wheelabout Road. Stay straight on this road. This becomes a gravel path and eventually crosses a one-lane bridge. Park near the old rail bed and cross Raccoon Creek to pick up the trail. Moonville Tunnel is about 100 yards from this point.