Towner’s Woods

(Orig. Published 8/12/2004)

In terms of creepiness, Towner’s Woods is to Portage County what the Cuyahoga Valley Park system is to Summit & Cuyahoga Counties…but on a much smaller scale, of course.  Classifying this park is hard.  Is it really a haunted place, or can it be written off as an urban legend and tossed into the local oddities bin?   Vague tales involving the spirits of a Native American and vengeful pioneer widow, ghost trains, satanic activity, and unexplained phenomena cloak this relatively young park in a shroud of mystery.

Towner’s Woods is one of four parks that make up the Portage County Park system.  Located on Ravenna Road in Franklin Township, the most notable aspect about this park is the 2,000+ year-old Hopewell Indian burial mound found at the end of one of the hiking trails.

Very little is known about the history of Towner’s Woods.  It is a relatively new park.  The property was previously owned by the Bringham and Towner families before they sold it to Portage County in 1973.  Before then, the land was used as a sand and gravel excavation site and dairy farm.

This imposing building is one of this first things that visitors encounter upon entering Towner’s Woods Park. We’re not sure about the background of this  building.  Perhaps it was used as part of the business of the prior owners.  In any event, it looked eerie enough to include a photo here.  

On a positive note, a water spigot and water bowl are located under the stairs for visitors’ thirsty dogs.

This is one of two gazebos found along the trails in Towner’s Woods. Tales involving satanic rituals are tied to these locations.

This gazebo, though eerie-looking in the photo, seems relatively harmless. In fact, it is a popular location for prom and wedding photographs.

This gazebo, however, is a different matter altogether. 

On the two occasions that we visited the park, this gazebo showed evidence of small fires inside a circle of benches.  This picture was taken from our second trip.  Burnt wood is visible underneath the bench.  Interestingly, on our first trip a week before, the bench in the front was in a different location, and the remains of a separate fire was found further inside the gazebo.

In any event, this does not necessarily prove the existence of any occult activity.  For all we know, the fires were probably started by a bunch of bored kids who have no appreciation for basic fire safety. 

The entrance to the trail leading up to the Hopewell burial mound.

This photo was taken from the foot of the burial mound. This site is actually quite impressive, visually. From the top of the mound, one can see Lake Pippen below.

In 1932, this mound was excavated. Archeologists discovered the skeletal remains of 11 Hopewell Indians, along with various artifacts. 

According to the Ohio Exploration Society, one of the bodies buried here belongs to a Hopewell princess.    It is said that a guardian spirit watches over her tomb and will harm anyone who disturbs her rest.  One supposed incident occurred in the 1950’s, when the guardian left strange claw marks on the car of some teenagers who camped on this mound.

It is also said that the spirit of a pioneer widow, who was murdered by neighbors over a land dispute, wanders these trails along the outskirts of the park.

These old train tracks (below) run along one of the trails at Towner’s Woods.  According to separate reports found at Ghost Roads and Forgotten Ohio, a ghost train runs along these rusted tracks. On one occasion, the mysterious ghost train almost ran over some novice ghost hunters. 

While we hiked this trail, we did hear the distinctive sound of a train passing by.  Yet, no train was visible along these tracks.  Believing that we had finally come across a truly paranormal event, we ran along the trail towards the entrance, only to find…

…this second set of train tracks hidden below.  As it turns out, another railway runs underneath–and adjacent to–the railway above.  Approximately twenty minutes later, our suspicions were confirmed, as another train ran through these tracks.  The train is not visible above ground.  So, we can understand why some people mistake the sounds as a ghost train. 

Interestingly, upon closer inspection, we found a barely-visible pentagram spray painted on the interior wall of this railway tunnel.

Towner’s Woods is open from dawn to dusk.  If you venture here after hours, you are considered trespassing.

 !WARNING! The place is literally swarming with mosquitoes during the Summer.  In light of the newest reports of West Nile Virus in this area, people are strongly encouraged to bring their bug spray and take other precautions against those nasty critters.


8/5/04:  One reader has helpfully pointed out that the large building is actually an old railroad interlocking tower.  As Tom S. writes:  “These towers housed switching equipment for railroad junctions and/or crossover points. The tower in question is BA Tower, or Brady Lake, which was operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The old railroad branch line you show was once the Erie Railroad main line, and the other active main line underneath it is the old Pennsylvania (now Norfolk Southern, formerly Conrail) line which runs to Cleveland. It’s still a very active line. BA Tower controlled a junction between the two railroads.”


For more information regarding the the park and its legends, check out these websites:

The Portage County Hauntings section of Ohio Exploration Society
Ghost Roads of Ohio
The submissions section of Forgotten Ohio
The Portage County Parks and Recreation website

10/28/04Eskimo Tailor writes of mysterious underground tunnels hidden near Towner’s WoodsNote:  Please heed the warning at the end of this submission.  Assuming the tunnels are still in existence, they are likely to be very dangerous:

I went to school in Kent and lived at Brady Lake for a year and often poached the trails at Towners Woods at night on my mountain bike. I never experienced anything strange there. However, if you follow those tracks in towards Kent, you can find some really freaky stuff.

There is an old turnstile maybe a mile Northeast of Kent. In that area while riding one day, a friend of mine and I found an opening in the ground to an underground tunnel. Supposedly these tunnels run all the way into Kent and I don’t have any reason to doubt it. I actually got into a similar tunnel under one of the buildings on campus one night.

Anyway, there was strong evidence of cult activity at this particular opening. First, there was a crude noose hanging from a tree near the opening. Then, my friend and I, like a couple of idiots decided to go into the tunnel. We found some plastic to burn as a torch and went inside. We headed up the tunnel, which is probably only about 3.5 feet high, in a Northeast direction, back towards Towners Woods. We went maybe 30 to 40 feet and the tunnel opened up into a room full of milk crates and wooden spools for tables and chairs. There were candle remnants and plastic vampire teeth everywhere.

I warn everybody that these are very old tunnels and there is most likely a very good chance of collapse, so be careful, and don’t go alone.

9 thoughts on “Towner’s Woods

  1. I know exactly where the tunnels from the 2004 submission are. Me and my friends always had fires at the abandoned cement water tower remains right next to that hole leading to the tunnels. The noose hanging from a tree is actually still there as of 2011 when I last went to a fire down there. All these remains and “noose” and junk are most likely remains from fires and parties held by drunk Kent students.

  2. in responce to the “tom s.” update, the interlocking tower at brady lake had nothing to do with the erie lackawanna railroad. the single track that now passes this location (former EL now used by the W&LE) was never interlocked with the NS (former PRR) this interlocking controled the PRR and NYC railroads. NYC used PRR right of ways. if you traven a little waus down ravenna road west of towners woods, you can see the old bridge abutments from where the NYC left the PRR and traveled west to Hudson ohio.

  3. As part of the Munroe Falls Paranormal Society, we got a rare opportunity about 2 years ago. We were asked to host some ‘Haunted Hikes’ through the woods as a part of a fundraising activity for the park. In exchange, they allowed us to investigate the park after nightfall (The park closes at nightfall, and police and rangers DO enforce this. Several people were ejected the night we were there.)

    We were given one full night on our own to investigate prior to the actual hikes taking place. We targeted 2 main areas… the Railroad Building, and Towner’s Mound. The building had zero activity in it at all, and so we quickly focussed our attention into the woods.

    The woods at night are beautiful and peaceful. On this October night, there was little to be heard except the wind, falling acorns, and the occasional owl. I took my team to the top of the mound, and we saw a number of shadows, seeming to flit between the trees just as you were looking away. This could easily have been our imagination, so I’m not inclined to say that it was anything paranormal.


    Since the Mound IS a burial site, I was determined to be as respectful to it as I can be. So before we started our EVP sessions, I gave an offering of tobacco as a sign of respect. As we stood at the top of the mound, we mulled over how exactly to communicate with 2000 year old native american spirits, since they obviously would not speak or understand English. What we opted for was addressing them in rather broken Iroquois, with the idea being that just as we can understand bits and pieces of Old English, they might be able to understand a little Iroquois. The results were… startling.

    I glanced at our glossary list, and called out 2 words… the Iroquois for ‘Hear’ and the word for ‘Sing’. A few minutes after that, I heard the unmistakable sound of a woman singing. The other members of the group didn’t hear it, and when I took one of them and tried to move closer to where it sounded like it was coming from, it stopped. So, we returned to the top of the mound and pondered this, and while we debated on what it meant, suddenly ALL of us heard wooden flute music, drifting through the air, as if from a great distance. When I went back over my voice recorder for EVPs, the music was there, although faint… the microphone wasn’t good enough to pick up all of what we heard, but you can unmistakably hear the wooden flutes.

    When my team and our ‘base camp’ team switched places, they had some experiences of their own. One member was hit by an acorn… which, when viewing the video footage that happened to be on her at the time, clearly came at her horizontally from the brush, rather than from above from the trees. The also captured an EVP, which was originally described to me as ‘humming’, but when I enhanced it and cleaned it up a little was a clear voice, seemingly of a little girl, saying “They don’t want to talk to us!”

    Really, some of my most intriguing experiences took place there.

  4. I used to take my son to this park all the time. The shed , I think someone above called it another gazebo, looks like a little ranger shed to me with some benches inside of it. Very creepy. It is at the top of the hill on one of the trails. We never went in it. Made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. And what is up with the stains on the floor there? We didn’t even know the place was haunted, this was back in 2004 but I trusted my gut and we didn’t step one foot in there, only peaked in.

  5. Yes, I know of these tunnels. haven’t went far into them. Towners is a real odd place. No one has brought up the sculpture that lies in the back of the park. Back in my high school days it was a field now it has grown to a forest. It is still there I have pics and my son has video. When I was in HS the spiritualist camp was still running. It went under shortly after I got out of school. }:)
    It was an eerie place to spend a Summer. They had a Hotel on the property that they had many out of town and out of country visitors. They stayed up late playing an organ, you could not have iron fences nor barking dogs. I can tell lots more and there are things I can’t speak of. When my wife and I divorced he used to go the area to be babysat. He has some stories himself.

  6. I grew up at Brady Lake , Oh. In my pre-teen years several neighbor hood buddies and I would hunt and fish in and around Towners Woods. Although fishing was prohibited in Pippin Lake it was a mecca for us kid’s. My neighbor and I did get caught fishing one morning. I was about 10 years old at the time and was scared to death. The JP said they would prosecute my Dad and being 10, I thought that meant electrocute . I cried something awful until my Mom told me the difference between prosecute and electrocute.I’m talking about years 1935 to late Forties. The Indian mound there was always capped and locked. Only the Towner family had excess to the contents within the mound and they would display them to interested groups. I personally have never seen the interior of the mound.
    Towners Woods was always a nightly parking place for lovers. Every night several cars would be parked there and a lot of “necking” would be would be conducted.
    The Erie , Pennsylvania and I think the B&O Railroads ( maybe New York Central ) all passed close to each other at the road close to Towners Woods.
    There was an overpass of tracks there that we would climb down between the railroad tracks and trains would pass over us. There was plenty of space below and adjacent so actually we weren’t in any danger of harm. On occasions since the engines were coal fired, sometimes hot ashes would fall in our little space under the tracks. I’m the only survivor of this little prank and the others have all passed on. Needless to say we never told our Mom’s about this little caper.
    We all had a wonderful and exciting time in and around Towners Woods and although 75 or 80 years have passed I shall always remember Towners Woods.
    I left Brady Lake in 1948, joined the Navy and retired after 30 years of service. I live near Waco, Texas, but fond memories of Towners Woods still remain with me the rest of my life.

    • Thank you for sharing all of this! I am from Kent, but I was born in the ’90s & it’s very interesting to hear about what it was like then and how it is similar now.

  7. Pingback: Towner’s Woods, a burial mound and a Hopewell princess | Knapp Notes

  8. I can confirm A tunnel near the water tower. I felt it was just drainage and possibly maintenance, it was disgusting and terrifying, I would not travel it without a weapon and hazmat suit. Small, so you would be crawling. Never seen a noose. Can confirm remotely innocent parties at the water tower, but drugs and alcohol are commonly done there by a seemingly never ending stream of young people. There was some construction going on deep in the woods several years ago. We discovered a site that had some kind of leaking gas hook up. All the dirt was tore up by large construction treads, tracks were newish, but there were no vehicles or trailers… just the leaking gas hook up. It was deep into the woods but there must have been a road near by. Was lost at the time.

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