From downtown Cincinnati, take I-75 North to I-74. Take exit 19 off I-74, the Elmore Street/Spring Grove Avenue exit. At the end of the exit, turn right onto Colerain Avenue. Colerain will dead end into Spring Grove Avenue. Turn left onto Spring Grove Avenue. Follow this road for a little longer than two miles. Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum will be on the left. A large gothic gate marks the entrance.
Spring Grove is the second-largest cemetery in the country, covering a total of 733 acres. The cemetery was officially chartered in 1845 as the population of Cincinnati began to grow quickly, and many of the existing cemeteries were filling up. The need became even greater in the late 1840s when a cholera epidemic struck the city. Over the years, the cemetery has grown and many of the city’s most important names are buried here.
The cemetery also contains the remains of those involved in some tragic occurrences and unusual demises. A famous Negro League baseball player who was killed by a runaway car while sitting on the front stoop of an apartment building is buried here as well as a judge who was killed in the Mount Auburn incline disaster in 1889. The man whose death sparked the deadly Courthouse Riots in Cincinnati in 1884 is also buried here.
Spring Grove was created by a landscape architect to look like a park. As the years went by, many people came to the cemetery not to visit loved ones but simply to walk through the beautiful landscape, and the grounds were renamed Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum.
Many ghost stories circulate about Spring Grove. The grounds are vast, and many areas are remote, so you’ll find some places that are quite creepy.
The most famous ghost story involves the grave of an optometrist named C.C. Breuer. The story goes that when Breuer died, he asked that his eyes be removed from his body and placed into a bronze bust that was placed on the grave marker. The eyes in the bust actually do look real. Many people claim that when they walk near this bust, the eyes follow them, as if C.C. Breuer is watching them from beyond the grave. Unfortunately, most of this story isn’t true. The eyes in the bust are made of glass and were chosen by Breuer himself because they closely resembled his own eyes. The fact that the eyes are glass doesn’t explain the fact that they seem to follow people as they walk near the grave.
Skittish people who walk through haunted cemeteries are sometimes concerned that a corpse will reach up from beneath the ground and grab their legs. As terrifying as this sounds, it is almost unheard of that people report phenomena like this happening anywhere. Spring Grove Cemetery is one of those cemeteries, though, that people sometimes report being grabbed. A caretaker was working by himself and suddenly felt something grab his pants leg. He panicked and fled. Later, thinking more rationally about the situation, he returned to the site expecting to find that there was something on which he had caught his pants leg. To his horror, he found nothing in the area that could have caused this feeling.
Throughout the rest of the cemetery, people will report seeing figures that mysteriously disappear. People will hear voices and will be unable to find their source, and people will see strange white wolves that look at the witnesses before running away. These white wolves are thought to be harbingers of bad luck. According to rumors, people who see the wolves will experience some accident or other bad luck soon after their sighting.
On the one hand, it is unfortunate that this place closes to the public at night. Also, the staff and ownership of the cemetery do not support the rumors that the cemetery is haunted. They will tell you that the cemetery is not haunted, and they are not likely to support any large-scale investigation at any time.
On the other hand, most of the sightings that have been reported take place during regular daytime visiting hours. Another plus for ghost enthusiasts is that the place is so vast the cemetery could be somewhat busy and you may still never run into another living being. There are plenty of remote places to investigate.
If you are looking for the hotspots throughout the cemetery, go to: Lot 100—C.C. Breuer’s final resting place; Section 87, Lot 20—Where the white wolves are most often seen; Section 53—Where the groundskeeper was grabbed; Section 16—Figures and voices are heard in this area, which is also the final resting place of the man whose death sparked the Courthouse Riots, William Kirk.