(Orig. Published 3/2002)
This is truly one of the creepiest “haunted sites” in the area. It is situated on top of a hill off of Bath Road and is part of the Hampton Hills park owned and maintained by the Akron Metroparks. It is comprised of a farmhouse, outbuilding and barn.
While stories about this place vary, what most have in common is the appearance of a black, shadowy figure that menaces persons who venture in or around the property.
According to legend, this property was once owned by a farmer and his family, who were brutally murdered by a satanic cult. Another variation of the story has the farmer murdering his wife and two children. The farmer then hung himself in the barn. Some elements of this story overlap with the Legend of the Seven Barns.
Research of the chain of title and backgrounds of prior land owners cannot confirm this story. The property was donated to the park in 1967 by Rhea H. and E. Reginald Adam. Prior to that time, it was owned by Emma L. Martin, and before then, J. Hart. Prior to the 1870’s, little is known about the property. According to the Metroparks official website, the buildings were constructed around 1830-1850.
It is also believed that the hill is actually part of a Native American burial mound, which is certainly not surprising in this area. In fact, some believe that the Black Figure is not the ghost of the murderous farmer at all, but that of a Native American wraith who guards the place and chases off others who do not belong there. A wendigo, of Native American folklore.
The house is also believed to be a secret meeting place for a “satanic cult.” <whatever that means> However, it is highly unlikely that any real satanic activity occurs here. Despite the historical significance of this land, the park has not opened the house and buildings to the public since it was donated by the Adams Family (no pun intended). Sadly, no restoration or preservation has been done to this landmark, and the buildings have remained vacant, away from public viewing, for almost forty years. Probably for this reason, it has become an attraction for bored kids and thrill seekers.
Below are some shots taken of the exterior of the house:
Sadly, efforts to find a convenient, loose opening to the inside proved futile, as prior weak spots were recently sealed and tightly boarded up.
Below, the barn
A side shot of the barn. Despite a recent paint job, the barn showed evidence of extensive wear.
View of the barn from the back, among the wild overgrowth.
While most of the barn was locked, we were able to find an opening in the barn’s basement. To the left and below are shots of the basement. While the story of the farmer who killed himself here is intriguing, as these photos show, the inside is less than remarkable. A more appropriate title of this place would be …
THE KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS.
Sometime in early 2003, the house and outbuilding were demolished. The barn is still standing, and was even re-sided, looking much better than it did in Spring 2002 when the original pictures were taken.
Below are some pictures of how the site appears today.
For stories submitted by other readers, check out the submission vault, below.
For some great photos of the inside of the house, check out Ohio Trespassers’ Top O’ the World page.
12/27/03: Gun-toting apparitions, shadow dogs and hairy man-apes….Oh my! Coyote shares some freaky experiences and more legends about this mysterious hill.
I did some paranormal research and urban exploration up at Top O’ The World in the Falls a few years back when I lived in Akron for college. I had heard that the place was haunted ever since I laid foot in Summit County but took at simple urban legend. I mean, come on… Insane farmer, Satanic cults, tons of other crap including horses riding through the sky. I laughed it off. So I went up there one night with a friend carrying only basic ghost hunting supplies; an electronic temperature gauge, a cheap camera, flashlights and a tape recorder with a shotgun mic. Well, nothing too remarkable happened until we got up near the barn. I left the tape recorder running for about 5minutes as we scoped the joint on foot. After a boring and uneventful five minute break I went back, picked up the tape recorder and got ready to head back home. I was extremely unimpressed and rather disappointed. And here’s where the fun started.
As I walked back to my car I felt something heavy on my left shoulder and then heard a loud bang. I whipped around and exclaimed some rather colorful words about how you really don’t want to mess with me and yada, yada,yada…
That caught my attention enough to come back for a more formal investigation. When I reviewed the barn door tape towards the end of the recording were some strange, unidentifiable metallic sounds followed by a clear, funny- sounding voice saying, “Get down”. Later, I reviewed this tape with a friend of mine, who then dashed to his room, produced an old flintlock rifle and ran the ramrod down the barrel a few times for me to hear it. Sure enough it was the same sound that proceeded the voice on the tape. One can only make assumptions on what ghostly artifact was resting on my shoulder and what made that big bang noise.
Following that went back almost every other night for about a year. Tried a few more EVPs and really didn’t get anything very impressive except for a background train although the trains haven’t run through that part of the valley in quite a few years. Along with that, some fun pictures of both the inside of the house and barn along with seeing what looked like a “shadow” dog one evening. From being inside both the house and barn many, many times I must admit that it looked like some “cult” activity had taken place there but probably not until after the rumors had already circulated. The basement of the house was littered with empty beer cans and the barn had a Pentagram marked on the floor in cheap, acrylic red paint along with a few broken candles. The main floor of the barn has nothing remarkable in it except for Metroparks groundskeeper equipment and some owls and bats during the summer months. I’ve never felt threatened or that there was anything with bad intent there, however. Many people say its a nasty place to be at nighttime but I used to go up there all the time by myself at 1 or 2 AM to time and chrono my paintball guns. Most of the lights you see that everyone thinks are ghosts are nothing more then fireflies and the eyes in the woods are from some REALLY big possums that like to hang out up there after dark. But it was always a blast to go to the Top O’ The World on Friday the 13th and watch all the teenage kids show up at midnight looking for a cheap thrill.
I’ve heard many stories of a big, black furry thing attacking cars as they leave this side of Hampton Hills Metropark. I, personally, have never experienced any of this, but a friend’s uncle was on a camping trip once upon a time in the same area and was chased along a trail by, what he called, a big, black, hairy ape. Another friend of mine in Akron claimed that a black man-thing chased his car all the way down the hill and managed to keep up with it at 60 mph. I have no idea what this has to do with the mad farmer legend of the place, however it might tie into the burial ground theory.
8/11/03: One former Cuyahoga Falls resident, Autumnlane28nospam@aol.com, shares her experiences at Top ‘O the World (we think), as well as a twist on the Seven Barns legend.
When I was fourteen, which is eight years ago, some friends and I would continuously go these houses. There were two: one up a little closer than the other and a little distance between the two. There was a barn in the back, like a little shack thing, and I believe a little out house.
The first couple of times we went we would just drive by and check it out. At first we would only hear whistles but it was really weird. They would come from almost every direction, then it sounded like they were right on top of us. One time while at this place, our car started blowing cool air, shifting funny, and then it just wouldn’t run. We had to pull over and sleep for the night.
The next time, we decided to go during the day, park at the Humane Society and walk over to check out stuff. We walked around the first house and tried to get inside, but everything looked as if it was boarded up except for one window in the upstairs. We went to the further house and looked around. We looked down into the basement window and it was flooded. We went back to the barn and checked things out. Back there, we heard a lot of noises.
The front house was the most mysterious to me. We went back to the front house and discovered a phone book from I believe 1969, which I don’t have but wish I did. As we were looking around, we noticed the window upstairs had a candle lit in it. As we were looking at it, the curtain just swung open. At that point we took off for the time.
I returned later that week with some other friends of mine and my boyfriend. We pulled all the way up to the houses in a truck. On the ground on the side of the front house was a I guess you could say an underground entrance that we never noticed because of the snow. My boyfriend and his brother went in by themselves. Next thing you know, they come running out screaming. They told me that the basement was sectioned into three areas and in each area there were skeletons of people. Well that scared us and we left. The very next day, some of my other friends went and they reported to me that they had gone in and all the floors were caved in.
Now I have heard the story about the seven barns, but I was told a different story about these houses. I was told that back in the woods, there used to be a mental hospital. While it was in operation, five people disappeared. Two had supposedly died and the other three were said to be staying at this property and had never been seen again. These were supposed to be the skeletons they had said they seen.
12/17/02: Aftermath shares his childhood memories of touring this house during its brief public opening in the late 70’s, and provides some compelling new details about the former inhabitants, including <gasp> some possible abandoned graves on the property:
In the late 70’s the house was indeed open to the public for a tour for a very short time. All the rooms had the belonging’s of the Adams Family as you toured the rooms. Personal effects (glasses, hair care, I mean everything, I specifically remember the glasses because I had to wear them at such a young age, I saw those old style ones and was fascinated at how different glasses were in those days compared to mine, which was sporting “Bionic Frames”). The tour was brief, and not all rooms were open. There was a tour guide most of the time.
However, I do remember going there one time and the house was open, but was not having guided tours. The rooms were roped off so there were only thin paths through each room, and of course signs asking that no one touch anything. The guide also related stories about the family as well, but I can’t remember them. I also remember specifically being told this was the last summer it would be open as the house was physically sinking on one side, and the house did indeed have a nasty lean, especially noticeable on the porch. I was only 8 at the time (making it the summer of 1978), but I remember frequenting Top often on picnics with my mother, and we did indeed tour that house a few times.
I will definitely say that house did have a feeling to it. I’m not sure if this was simply due to the age and unfamiliarity of the antiquities contained therein, but it indeed was a creepy place. I remember loving it though, and I think after the first time, I wasn’t interested in the items inside so much as the feeling I got when going there. I requested going there many times as a kid. Very much a “butterflies in the stomach” thing.
My Mom recalls a couple of more bits:
There was a square cut in the wall in the main room, to show that the entire house was insulated with horse hair. Fairly weird, but yeah you could see the different types of hair lining the house. Also, she remembers in the “kitchen” they had a large hearth to do all their cooking/heating water for washing.
She also seems to remember them saying that the family was indeed buried up there, except for the OLDEST child, who moved on to Pittsburgh. However, the location of the graves is not known, but they are speculated to be on the grounds somewhere. Presumably, they got lost within the overgrowth by the time it became a park.
6/09/02: Submitted by email@example.com
Since I was 16, myself and my brother and all our friends have gone up to Top of the World. Most commonly at night. . . For 4 years now, I have gone up there, I know the immediate area of the house and barn like the back of my hand. I’ve been inside both various times as well as the surrounding woods.
I have seen the man in black in the high grassy area, been chased out by him, been chased out by a guy in black on horseback, been chased out by what I can only describe as half-man, half-wolf. I’ve seen spirits of dead children playing in the area around the parking lot and in the parking lot itself, one in particular that got close enough to me was a young girl, maybe about 5 or 6, in a blueish printed dress playing with a ball. the other child I saw from about 10 ft. away was a slightly older boy dressed in overalls.
The night Debby’s car was tossed from the road I was in our friend Chris’s van watching from between his and the passenger seat as something large and black plowed into the side and lifted it, then watched as something on the other side threw the car back onto the road. Shortly after Chris slammed the brakes and I flew to the back of the van ;). Later as we returned to our friend’s house we inspected the large dent on the side, and there is NO WAY it could be a tree or rock that had done it.. the shape, size, and imprint were far different from those that a tree or rock could make upon a car.
In one incident myself and my friend Matt had found a way into the house, we didn’t break in, the board was missing and a hole large enough for a person to squeeze through allowed us access. We went through out the house… one thing I noticed on several occasions while up there was dog paw prints (they were too large to be raccoon and definitely were not a cat) leading up onto the side porch and through the doorway, on the inside of the house I noticed from that doorway the paw prints lead in and down to the basement as well as breaking off and leading upstairs, there were no return prints… quite odd…
We went into one of the upstair bedrooms, there was a small doorway leading to a crawlspace. It was very dark and our flashlight was real crappy so we weren’t gonna chance falling through the ceiling. though as we looked into it I could feel something watching us from both inside and from the doorway at the same time…It was at that time a real quick temperature drop happened from the room and we decided it was time to get out. Smething else odd, what looked like a dark brownish redish spot on the floor upon closer inspection seemed to be something akin to dried blood that stained the floor, we had no idea what it could have been. As we were leaving through the window I had this horrible feeling something was on it’s way up from the basement, and it definitely did NOT want us inside right then.
There was also the lights… in the trees moving blinking large lights moved around, sometimes coming out as far as the parking lot, then disappearing…one went through me before… felt cold and like the feeling when your leg falls asleep or something where it entered and exited my chest and back.. there is no chance it could be lightnin’ bugs, they aren’t that big, don’t move that fast, and can’t go through a body.
Top of the World is not always a scary place, this past 4th of July myself and my ex went up there and managed to watch both the fireworks from Blossom and from downtown Akron, quite remarkable and breath taking from that view point.
Those are some of the incidents that currently stand out in my mind from the past 4 years of going up there, the first summer we were there literally every night, sometimes twice. Though many many other things have happened while I was there, but as AlmightyScorpion said, and I agree, don’t go up there alone at night and don’t go up there without a group.. I’d like to add, don’t go up there under the influence, it seems to piss off the spirits quite a bit and is quite disrespectful to them, not to mention dangerous considering there are invisible holes that you are likely to break an ankle tripping in.
Though I have moved to NC for the time being, I really miss going to Top of the World. I must make the comment though, the whole Highland Square/Walhaven/Valley area seems to have it’s spirits.. some good… some bad… some are ones that you just really really don’t want to get involved with and I wonder if there is a way to put them at rest…
5/31/02: Here’s a chilling tale as submitted by Alan:
My friend and I went to hike at Top of the World one evening in the fall. It was around 6-7 in the evening and it was still light out.
I did not realize that the hiking trail there is a very long one and I kept thinking we must be nearing the end as it got darker and darker, but we weren’t. The darkness is compounded by all the trees and by the time we were half way or so it was getting really hard to see very far in front of us at all. Finally, it got so dark that we could only see a few feet ahead and we both wished that we were done and back at the car.
When it was finally pitch black out we found ourselves at the top of a hill not too far from the road and at a point where the trail descended again down into the woods and away from the road. Right as we were about to start down the hill we heard a loud cracking/thwacking sound come from the valley we were about to descend into. It sounded to me like someone smacking a large stick against a tree trunk. It was much too loud to be some woodland creature stepping on a falling branch. I would have dismissed it as a rotten branch breaking and falling from a tree but then it was repeated several times and definitely sounded deliberate. This stopped us in our tracks and we stood at the top of the hill not wanting to start down any longer.
Then came the really creepy sounds. There were sounds that sounded like coughing, rustling and then some sort of moans or short wails. It really didn’t sound like an animal down there and I couldn’t imagine a person being there or making the sounds either. It was pitch black and we saw no sort of flashlight or anything coming from the location of the sounds. At this point we got really freaked out. There was no way were going down into the darkness to find out where the noises were coming from. They seemed to be almost directly beneath us in this valley and not too far away.
We stood there for several minutes listening and getting nervous. Looking around we saw the road 50-100 feet away through a field of waist high growth. Confronted with the choice of continuing on the hiking trail or hightailing it through the brush to the road, we chose the road.
We tramped through the prickers and other plants as fast as we could and finally made it to the road where there were sporadic street lights. We walked along the road for about a quarter mile or so until we were at the bottom of the hill and the road that leads up to Top of the World where our car was waiting. Needless to say, we were very glad to get the hell out of there.
I do not have any theories on what was there making the noises but it seriously didn’t sound like animals. It could have been people because whatever made the cracking and rustling had to have been large, but the wails did not sound like a person. I can’t imagine anyone being down in the dark there with no light, this was still somewhere in the middle of the trail and we certainly would never have been there if we weren’t so stupid as to start so late. When we made it back to the parking lot there were no other cars there.
This was one of the only times in my adult life when I got seriously freaked.
4/21/02: Here’s an account of one Akron-area resident’s experiences with this notorious site, as submitted by AlmightyScorpionnospam@msn.com:
Hi. I read that you’re going to be opening a Top of the World section, and thought that I’d relate to you several incidents in that place.
Around four years ago, several friends, my wife (girlfriend at the time) Debby, and myself decided to go up to the Top of the World Metropark. We were having a fun time, when our friends Jay and J.D. decided they wanted to walk through the tall grass to the trail that cut through the center of the patch. After a few seconds, we saw a man dressed completely in black walking down where the trail was. Then he quickly stopped, and fell forward onto his face with a loud thud. We assumed it was Jay and J.D. But as soon as that happened, I looked in closer and saw that they had only reached halfway- their heads were poking slightly above the grass. They quickly turned back and bolted for us. We then left real quickly.
We returned several times in the following weeks, and each time it got worse. For instance, the sky appeared to lower to us, we’ve heard crazy things coming from the house and barn, and speaking of the house- the porch would seem to disappear in a thick blanket of darkness, making it impossible to see the doorway.
Probably the wierdest thing to have happened was to me and Debby. During one of the little excursions to the place, something scared all of us (there were approximately a dozen of us). We all jumped in our vehicles, and started leaving. Debby had a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutless Sierra, and there were approximately 4 people in it, including myself, Debby’s cousin and his girlfriend at the time.
We were the first in line to get out, and as we rounded the bend, we felt the back end of the car lift up, get tossed to the left, caught, and thrown to the right, where we hit something very hard and looked very big and dark. Debby’s cousin, Les cracked his head against the rear passenger’s side window. I nearly hit my head, but got my arm up to brace in time.
We got back to our friend’s house and got out of the car. I had to get out via the driver’s side door (as did Les)- the passenger’s door wouldn’t open. Before we could get out, the five or six people in our friend Chris’s van jumped out and told us that something black jumped out, picked up the back end, and chucked it to the left. Something else grabbed it, and chucked it back. The thing that grabbed it the first time had moved forward to the area of the passenger’s side door (between Les and myself) when the car got flung into it. We didn’t stop to think of taking a picture of the damage, but everyone that night saw it for themselves.
I thought it was rather crazy, until I rounded the car and looked at the two foot wide dent into the side of the car- near Les’s head. The entire door was dented in along the doorjam, and handled very poorly. The next day, Debby’s father looked at the car and gave us the bad news- the frame was bent. It would cost a lot of money to fix. He asked us what happened, and we told him. He said to go back to the park and see if we hit a large tree or a big rock instead.
Undaunted we’ve returned several times with people, one time we were in Chris’s van when the man in black chased us out of the park, and down the hill to the intersection. As soon as we rounded the bend, he ran into the woods.
The classic “crazy farmer who killed his wife, kids, cattle, and hung himelf in the barn” story started circulating, however when Debby researched it. According to the Akron Metroparks web site, http://www.neo.rr.com/MetroParks/info-menu.html the park’s (Officially named O’Neil Woods) history is as follows:
“In 1972, the family of William and Grace O’Neil donated their family farm to the Metro Parks. The park was named in honor of the founder of the The General Tire and Rubber Company, whose son, M. Gerald O’Neil, served nine years on the Board of Park Commissioners, seven years as chairman.
“The wooded retreat was leased to the Metro Parks in 1969 for public use and later the gift was made outright. The O’Neil family had used the land for gentleman farming, horseback riding and family gatherings for two decades beginning in the 1930s. Their horses came from the well-known Van Sweringen stable of hunters and jumpers. Fifty head of Herefords also grazed the land. The barn along Bath Road is a reminder of the park’s past.”
Maybe there’s older history. After all the entire valley area used to be all native american land. In fact there are several memorials to both native americans and settlers that have been murdered throughout the area.
If you go to the Top of the World, bring other people. There is something there that doesn’t want company at night, and will make you leave.