September 30, 2022

15 Creepy Cincinnati Urban Legends and Ghost Stories

While Cincinnati may not be home to Bigfoot, Bloody Mary or Slender Man, the Queen City does possess its fair share of spine-tingling tales.

From Cincinnati's very own cryptid, the Loveland Frogman, to Harambe's lingering ghost and a portal to hell in Blue Ash, these are the most enduring urban legends hailing from Queen City — including at least a few under-the-radar stories.

Read on if you dare.
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 The Loveland Frogman 
Possibly the Cincinnati area’s most famous cryptid, the Loveland Frogman is thought to be a four-foot-tall humanoid frog or toad that prowls around Loveland, Ohio on its hind legs. The first alleged sighting happened in 1955. Then, in 1972, a Loveland Police officer reported seeing something that matched the Frogman’s description, according to legend. But in 2016, after sightings were reported on several Cincinnati TV stations, a second officer called one of the stations with an updated report of the 1972 sighting. Apparently, he had shot a creature two weeks after the 1972 sighting. The creature? A large iguana with a missing tail. Regardless of the Frogman's authenticity, Cincinnati residents are mostly happy to have their very own cryptid (who could totally take Mothman in a one-on-one match).
Artist Rendoring: Tim Bertlink

The Loveland Frogman

Possibly the Cincinnati area’s most famous cryptid, the Loveland Frogman is thought to be a four-foot-tall humanoid frog or toad that prowls around Loveland, Ohio on its hind legs. The first alleged sighting happened in 1955. Then, in 1972, a Loveland Police officer reported seeing something that matched the Frogman’s description, according to legend. But in 2016, after sightings were reported on several Cincinnati TV stations, a second officer called one of the stations with an updated report of the 1972 sighting. Apparently, he had shot a creature two weeks after the 1972 sighting. The creature? A large iguana with a missing tail. Regardless of the Frogman's authenticity, Cincinnati residents are mostly happy to have their very own cryptid (who could totally take Mothman in a one-on-one match).
 Kings Island's Vortex Is Sinking 
Many coaster freaks have heard that the Vortex is sinking into the ground because Kings Island is built almost entirely on a swamp. Many say this rumor started as an April Fools joke in the 1990s. This urban legend is now a nonissue, given the fact that the Vortex closed in 2019 (for mostly mechanical reasons, not because it had sank inches into the ground). Despite its closure, the Vortex remains a legend among easily persuaded kids who recently crossed the 48-inch height requirement to ride.
Photo: Provided by Kings Island

Kings Island's Vortex Is Sinking

Many coaster freaks have heard that the Vortex is sinking into the ground because Kings Island is built almost entirely on a swamp. Many say this rumor started as an April Fools joke in the 1990s. This urban legend is now a nonissue, given the fact that the Vortex closed in 2019 (for mostly mechanical reasons, not because it had sank inches into the ground). Despite its closure, the Vortex remains a legend among easily persuaded kids who recently crossed the 48-inch height requirement to ride.
Tillie the Elephant is Buried Somewhere in Cincinnati
Tillie the Elephant was a part of Robinson Circus, a popular traveling shows in the late 1800s. After her death in 1932, thousands showed up to her home in Terrace Park to celebrate her life. It was a big ado. Schools canceled classes. The newspaper ran a full obituary. An airplane dropped carnations from above the memorial. Since then, it has been a long-standing rumor that she was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery. But according to Spring Grove Cemetery historian Phil Nuxhall, the rumors are false. He writes in his book "Phil Nuxhall's Stories in the Grove" that Tillie’s legs were turned into umbrella stands. And the rest of her? One longtime resident of Terrace Park told WCPO that Tillie was buried in a dry well in Terrace Park.
Photo: Jen Buchholz

Tillie the Elephant is Buried Somewhere in Cincinnati

Tillie the Elephant was a part of Robinson Circus, a popular traveling shows in the late 1800s. After her death in 1932, thousands showed up to her home in Terrace Park to celebrate her life. It was a big ado. Schools canceled classes. The newspaper ran a full obituary. An airplane dropped carnations from above the memorial. Since then, it has been a long-standing rumor that she was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery. But according to Spring Grove Cemetery historian Phil Nuxhall, the rumors are false. He writes in his book "Phil Nuxhall's Stories in the Grove" that Tillie’s legs were turned into umbrella stands. And the rest of her? One longtime resident of Terrace Park told WCPO that Tillie was buried in a dry well in Terrace Park.
A Freight Train is Buried in Roll Hill
Many locals have heard whispers about a massive, brand-new freight engine sealed somewhere inside of Roll Hill. The reason for the burial varies with the storyteller. In one version, the engine was owned by James Gamble (of Procter & Gamble Co.), used to pull his private passenger train. One day, for reasons unknown, he gave the order to seal it up inside a tunnel. Why seal a pristine freight engine inside a tunnel? Cincinnatians may never know.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

A Freight Train is Buried in Roll Hill

Many locals have heard whispers about a massive, brand-new freight engine sealed somewhere inside of Roll Hill. The reason for the burial varies with the storyteller. In one version, the engine was owned by James Gamble (of Procter & Gamble Co.), used to pull his private passenger train. One day, for reasons unknown, he gave the order to seal it up inside a tunnel. Why seal a pristine freight engine inside a tunnel? Cincinnatians may never know.
UFOs Routinely Fly Above Adams County
Perhaps you've also heard the myth that secret government black helicopters routinely buzz Adams County. Whatever version you choose to believe, the truth is nowhere near as exciting. Turns out that, if you're driving around Adams County or even Maysville, Kentucky, you could well expect to see weird lights, fireballs or synchronized blips in the sky at night. Don't rush to dial 911, though. Truth be told, the area is a designated MOA (Military Operational Area), a restricted airspace where Air Force pilots practice mock dogfights. (It is, however, absolutely true about the little green men they've got locked up at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Pass it on).
Illustration: Hailey Bollinger

UFOs Routinely Fly Above Adams County

Perhaps you've also heard the myth that secret government black helicopters routinely buzz Adams County. Whatever version you choose to believe, the truth is nowhere near as exciting. Turns out that, if you're driving around Adams County or even Maysville, Kentucky, you could well expect to see weird lights, fireballs or synchronized blips in the sky at night. Don't rush to dial 911, though. Truth be told, the area is a designated MOA (Military Operational Area), a restricted airspace where Air Force pilots practice mock dogfights. (It is, however, absolutely true about the little green men they've got locked up at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Pass it on).
The University of Cincinnati is Located in Clifton
This is a geographical myth that won't go away. The main campus does sprawl across Clifton Heights, University Heights, Corryville and Avondale. But not Clifton. So stop saying it. Now.
Photo: facebook.com/uofcincinnati

The University of Cincinnati is Located in Clifton

This is a geographical myth that won't go away. The main campus does sprawl across Clifton Heights, University Heights, Corryville and Avondale. But not Clifton. So stop saying it. Now.
Satan's Hollow in Blue Ash
Blue Ash is known for many remarkable things, like a large 150-foot observation tower at Summit Park, the second location of Over-the-Rhine’s Senate, and a purported tunnel to the netherworld. The story goes that local Satanic groups would meet at a drainage tunnel in Blue Ash to conduct rituals. In doing so, they opened a portal to hell itself. Whoops! The graffiti-tagged abyss has pentagrams and phrases like “Hell lies ahead” sprayed on the walls. Many have reported screams, trapped spirits and apparitions including a demon referred to as “The Shadow Man.” Wanna check it out for yourself? Alas, Satan’s Hollow is on private property. Instead, you might have to settle for checking out Satan’s Hollow: The Tunnel to Hell, a short, 10-minute paranormal investigation “documentary” about the spot released in 2012. It’s on YouTube.
Photo: YouTube screenshot

Satan's Hollow in Blue Ash

Blue Ash is known for many remarkable things, like a large 150-foot observation tower at Summit Park, the second location of Over-the-Rhine’s Senate, and a purported tunnel to the netherworld. The story goes that local Satanic groups would meet at a drainage tunnel in Blue Ash to conduct rituals. In doing so, they opened a portal to hell itself. Whoops! The graffiti-tagged abyss has pentagrams and phrases like “Hell lies ahead” sprayed on the walls. Many have reported screams, trapped spirits and apparitions including a demon referred to as “The Shadow Man.” Wanna check it out for yourself? Alas, Satan’s Hollow is on private property. Instead, you might have to settle for checking out Satan’s Hollow: The Tunnel to Hell, a short, 10-minute paranormal investigation “documentary” about the spot released in 2012. It’s on YouTube.
The Rumpke Landfill is Home to a ‘Munchkinland’ 
This West Side rumor might have a tinge of truth to it. Handlebar Ranch is a mythical Colerain Township location in the 13000 block of Hughes Road on the edge of the Rumpke landfill. And apparently, it was home to munchkins — little people who lived in little houses along a dark, winding road (a key element to any good legend) called ‘Munchkinland.’ The little people were rumored to throw rocks at cars in an attempt to scare people away. While there is no concrete answer as to why these rumors started, there are some theories. One of them is Anna Gay Ritter, or "Annie" to her friends. She owned Handlebar, and died in February at age 85, just days shy of 86. One might assume her barely 5-foot-tall frame might have had something to do with it. And for years she lived with the perpetual torment of people driving by her property, shining headlights, squealing tires, and honking horns all through the night.
Photo: Public Domain

The Rumpke Landfill is Home to a ‘Munchkinland’

This West Side rumor might have a tinge of truth to it. Handlebar Ranch is a mythical Colerain Township location in the 13000 block of Hughes Road on the edge of the Rumpke landfill. And apparently, it was home to munchkins — little people who lived in little houses along a dark, winding road (a key element to any good legend) called ‘Munchkinland.’ The little people were rumored to throw rocks at cars in an attempt to scare people away. While there is no concrete answer as to why these rumors started, there are some theories. One of them is Anna Gay Ritter, or "Annie" to her friends. She owned Handlebar, and died in February at age 85, just days shy of 86. One might assume her barely 5-foot-tall frame might have had something to do with it. And for years she lived with the perpetual torment of people driving by her property, shining headlights, squealing tires, and honking horns all through the night.
The Waxman of Cincinnati
Supposedly, the Waxman is an old Cincinnati man who leaves his house every night at exactly 11:30 p.m. and drives his gold car to the same junkyard. The specter gets his name from the waxy appearance of his face — which must be quite memorable since there have only been a couple of alleged sightings. He is thought to plan his route so that no one can follow him. But you could try. The legend says that if you attempt to follow him, he’ll either ignore you or play tricks to scare you. No big deal!
Photo: Thanos Pal, Unsplash

The Waxman of Cincinnati

Supposedly, the Waxman is an old Cincinnati man who leaves his house every night at exactly 11:30 p.m. and drives his gold car to the same junkyard. The specter gets his name from the waxy appearance of his face — which must be quite memorable since there have only been a couple of alleged sightings. He is thought to plan his route so that no one can follow him. But you could try. The legend says that if you attempt to follow him, he’ll either ignore you or play tricks to scare you. No big deal!
A Hill at Devou Park Defies Gravity
At “Gravity Hill” on Ridgeway Court in Covington, a car in neutral just might roll uphill. The legend goes that if you stop at the second telephone pole, put your car in neutral, and take your foot off the brake, your car will go forward, despite the law of gravity suggesting it would roll backwards and downhill. Whether or not this is true is still up for debate.
Photo: Jesse Fox

A Hill at Devou Park Defies Gravity

At “Gravity Hill” on Ridgeway Court in Covington, a car in neutral just might roll uphill. The legend goes that if you stop at the second telephone pole, put your car in neutral, and take your foot off the brake, your car will go forward, despite the law of gravity suggesting it would roll backwards and downhill. Whether or not this is true is still up for debate.