Moonville was small, but many folks traveled through it. It was the closest depot for those living in the remote, outlying areas. .
Little remains of the Ferguson home and farm in foundation stones and piles of bricks along the trail below the old tracks and out to the old Moonville Road.
The Coes had a large home along the tracks. They also ran a lumber and grist mill along Raccoon Creek.
Moonville Tunnel came into existence with the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad whose tracks crossed Vinton County right around 1856. Later, in 1883, the railway would change ownership to the Baltimore and Ohio. The town name is most likely from an early farming family in the region by the name of Moon, a common surname in the region in the 1800s. Many of these residents were scattered about a couple mile area, their homes tucked into hollows and hills wherever land would allow them to build a home. There were folks like the Shirkeys, the Kennards and the Fergusons. Most of them worked in the Coe’s mines or in the small towns surrounding them.
The community had a depot, schoolhouse, a couple homes, and the local cemetery. A tunnel was built through a hillside on the Henry Ferguson property, the infamous Moonville Tunnel. The town remained a little less than a hundred years until the last family left, leaving it nothing more than a ghost town among many in the declining economy of the 1940’s.
Just off the path is where the Ferguson property was located.
A couple Haunted Hikes: Occasionally the roar of wheels to rail and the mournful cry of a train horn fill the air on the old Baltimore and Ohio tracks between Zaleski and Athens, Ohio. Yet, locomotives have not run the nearby rails in over thirty years. Trainmen dreaded taking the late night runs through this isolated section because the ghost of one of their own, engineer Theodore Lawhead, was killed here when his train collided with another near this tunnel on a cold November night in 1880. After, newspapers reported his ghost was seen floating down the embankment dressed in white with a lantern in hand and eyes glowing red. Perhaps you will see and hear these ghosts too during a special night hike with author Jannette Quackenbush on a night with a full moon. Find out more here-
A video I took many years ago that was on "My Ghost Story" when few people ventured because you had to hike through Forestry to get there or cross the risky waters of Raccoon Creek. And no, no other people were around. . .
The Moonville Rail Trail is maintained by Moonville Rail Trail Association, established in April of 2001 in order to build and maintain the muscle-powered Moonville Rail Trail system.
Zaleski State Forest
Moonville Rail Trail
...and much more