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The Old Athens Hospital Cemetery (often referred to as The Ridges Cemetery) is located on North Ridge Road in Athens, Ohio (Athens Township, Athens County). The coordinates are 39° 19' 18.73" N, 82° 6' 50.76" W. I found the cemetery (as well as the other two Ridges cemeteries) with the help of Tonee's EXCELLENT directions...click here to see her directions on the Eccentric Ohio website.
The Old Athens Hospital Cemetery is the oldest of The Ridges Cemeteries. The Ridges was the former mental health hospital. The hospital buildings are still standing, they are owned and used by Ohio University. However, the land that the cemeteries are on is still owned and maintained by the Ohio Department of Mental Health. The old cemetery is the one located closest to the old hospital.
The Old Athens Hospital Cemetery is a very sad place to visit. The majority of the gravestones contain only one thing: a patient number. A few of the gravestones have names and dates...these gravestones were purchased by the patient's family/descendants. All the other stones were purchased by the state.
There are also several veterans buried at the cemetery, many from the Civil War. This is because many of the soldiers returning from the war suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome. People back then didn't know how to cope with these shellshocked veterans, so they sent them to the asylum. In fact, many common mental disorders weren't treated properly back then, so many people with conditions such as depression that are easily treated today were sent to the hospital for many years...or even the rest of their lives.
The Old Athens Hospital Cemetery is supposedly haunted, which isn't surprising if you think about the horrible conditions these patients lived in at the hospital. The most well-known haunting stories told about this cemetery involve the circle of graves that can be seen in the northeast corner of the cemetery. All of the other rows of graves in the cemetery are laid out in straight lines. Perhaps the circle was created by college students as a prank, but legend has it that witches created this circle and hold seances in it.
Other stories involve the small section of graves located across a bridge in the woods. There are reports of people seeing strange lights and hearing screams in this section of the cemetery.
In September 2006 I received an e-mail from Joe B. about his experiences at the old hospital buildings:
I went to the Ridges tonight and it was CREEPY as hell. I just wanted to tell you because I love your site. (I've sent you a couple of ouija board stories, but the more I used it, the more the people I was playing with messed with me, so I stopped.)
We didn't see/experience anything in the main building, except the sound of a door slamming somewhere in the building. We went to the TB ward and THAT WAS SCARY. We didn't go in, though we found a way, we heard voices up there...well, more like heavy pants. But they were scary none the less.
One last thing, before we left, myself and another person there with me (there were four) saw a figure in the lights. It just moved slowly until it went behind a building (the old kitchen). It kind of glided. It was too far away to tell what it was, but the guy said it was a deer. I don't see why a deer would be moving slowly in a parking lot. I'm not saying it was a ghost, but it was pretty weird, the only thing is that it didn't scare me when I saw it, so it probably wasn't a ghost.
Click on the links below to see the other two Athens Mental Hospital cemeteries:
For more information about The Ridges, visit the following websites:
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