Legend Tripping: Exploring Lorain County Hauntings

Legend tripping, also known as ostension, is the pilgrimage to a site which is alleged to have been the scene of some tragic, horrific, and possible supernatural event or haunting. When Melody, Allie and I set out for the day, we had four rumored haunted locations in mind. The first stop of our legend day tripping finds us on the Dean Road Bridge in Vermilion.


While the historic bridge is loved by locals, there is a dark history that looms there. The bridge is located in Dean’s Hollow, and was said to be the site of a man’s unfortunate suicide. It is said that he hanged himself with a rope from the IMG_0956bridge’s rafters. Long after the body was removed, the rope remained. The old bridge has recently been torn down and rebuilt, but legend has it that on certain nights, one can see the rope hanging from the rafters. But be warned, if you see the rope, legend says there may be drastic consequences. While we didn’t see the rope, we were IMG_0961overcome with a feeling of fright, thinking of the death of the Dean Road Bridge suicide. The sheer height of the bridge, and the tire tracks that run along it make for an eerie atmosphere. Driving to our next stop, we were prepared for anything.

As you travel down Gore Orphanage Road in Vermilion, the acres of fields on your right come to a sudden end, turning into dense woods. It is here that the infamous site of the Gore Orphanage lies. It has excited and scared Lorain County visitors for decades, and recently inspired a movie to be released in 2015. If you’re not familiar with the legend of Gore Orphanage, it goes something like this: Starting in the 1800s, the property has been cursed with sudden deaths, most commonly, deaths of children. Originally known as the Swift home, the property was passed-on to several different owners. One family, the Wilbers, were known to perform séances in effort to communicate with the dead, especially after the deaths of the four grandchildren, who died within six days of each other. It is here in 1901 that the property first became known as the Haunted House of Gore due to the mysterious stories and plentiful deaths. The final owner was Reverend John Sprunger, who reopened the deserted home and created the Light and Hope Orphanage with his wife in 1910. The estate was known to house 45 people, with a maximum capacity of 125 at one time. Accounts from the children claim that they were beaten, had poor food and living conditions, and even desperately tried to escape to nearby Vermilion homes.

After being closed, the orphanage was burned down in December of 1923. To this day, it is still a mystery how the fire started. The only remains of the history of Gore Orphanage are old foundation stones, slabs of rock and an old gatepost. Legend or not, those who venture onto the tangled wooded grounds will understand the overwhelming silence and the eerie feeling of remembering what was there before you.


This is certainly what Melody, Allie and I felt as we stepped out of the van and onto the haunted grounds. Overcome with unease, it was hard to step away from the van. Melody was the bravest, venturing further out by herself while I stood with poor, frozen-with-fear Allie.  I told myself I would go see the sandstone pillar up close, as this would be the only time I would visit Gore Orphanage, but when I tried, something inside me told me to stay away and I couldn’t go any further.  While we didn’t find any of the rumored handprints on our van, or hear the screams of children, the feeling that overcame us was very real, and something that none of us can explain. It’s something you’ll have to feel for yourself!


IMG_1005Our next stop on our day of legend tripping was to stop by the Lorain Lighthouse. We could unfortunately only see it from a distance. For a closer look, book a trip on a lighthouse boat tour! The story says that during the original construction, a worker was trapped in a cave in the structure. The debris was too massive to get him out, and he was left to die. Now his ghost strolls the halls of the lighthouse as if he doesn’t know he is dead and is trying to finish his work. Because we weren’t able to thoroughly explore, I guess we’ll never know for sure if a ghost roams the halls. With the story in mind, the Lorain Lighthouse definitely has a eerie vibe as you look at it! 





The final stop of our day, Lorain’s Palace Theater, provided us the most unexpected adventure. When we were doing our research of Lorain County hauntings, we were surprised to find that professional ghost hunters had visited the theater just a few years ago. The Palace was built in 1928 after most of the area was destroyed by a tornado, and is considered to be the largest single floor theater in the state. It was also the first Ohio theater to show “talkies”. Allie, Madalynne, and I were very familiar with the other stories (especially Gore Orphanage) from growing up in this area, but The Palace legends were new to us. The legends themselves however, are anything but new. There are multiple reports of strange happenings in the Lorain Palace Theater, including door knobs moving by themselves, strange noises, and unexplainable images in photographs. We took some pictures and video ourselves while we were there. At one point Allie and I sat down in some of the theater seats. I didn’t feel or see anything strange while we were there. To be honest, I was a little bit skeptical. Soon, we got back in the van and headed back to the VLC office. Allie pulled up the photographs and video clips for us to see when we got back, and what we found shocked all three of us. When we were in the theater, the stage was very plainly empty, but in our photographs we saw that was clearly not the case. If you look just off stage right, you can see a tall white figure that almost looks as if it is making an entrance for a performance, almost as if it was inspired by us sitting down to watch what we thought was an empty stage. We looked at the rest of our pictures and sure enough- the spooky shadow was there again and again. We couldn’t believe we’d actually caught it on camera and been so unaware when we were sitting in the seats ourselves. It just goes to show that there really is more around us than what meets the naked eye!



 Want to spend the day in our shoes? Check out the video we took on our day of legend tripping and try not to get chills.

posted by lorain at 10:10 am

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