Alum Creek State Park

The Alum Creek reservoir located north of Columbus in Delaware county encompasses nearly 3,400 acres of water.  It’s part of the Ohio Valley Flood Control, and it’s a popular destination for central Ohio families in the summer.  During the warm months, on any given day you can spot dozens of motorboats, fishing boats, skiers, sailboats, and swimmers near the beaches.  It’s a very lovely place to spend an afternoon.


But like most things, Alum Creek has a dark side.  The reservoir was created between 1970 and 1974, a result of the federal Flood Control Act of 1962.  The dam that holds in the water was built by the Army Corp of Engineers, who also oversaw the preparation of the reservoir valley.  Part of the construction included the demolition of the old village of Cheshire, and there was a very old cemetery located in town. Nearly 1,500 graves had to be moved a few miles away to the New Cheshire Cemetery.

In a page right out of the movie Poltergeist, the engineers failed to move all of the bodies to the new cemetery.  Whether this was due to negligence or as a cost saving measure is something we’ll probably never know, but every so often a coffin or remains will wash up on the beach.

The first such grisly event was in 1991. Metal coffins were discovered by members of the Army Corp of Engineers, washed up on the beach after a drought lowered the water level. Human remains were found in the caskets.

In 2009, eleven more coffins appeared, ten made of wood, one metal like the previous finds.  Two men exploring the shore discovered the coffins and called the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.  Human remains were discovered in six of the caskets.  The Army Corp of Engineers were tasked with surveying the area and trying to determine if there are yet more coffins waiting to be found, as well as attempting to identify the remains for proper burial.  Some of the remains were dated as being less than fifty years old.

Inside the Coffin
Inside the Coffin

This would be horrific enough with just the coffins randomly appearing, but there’s another layer to this story.  Ohio is one of several states that was home to the prehistoric Adena culture.  The Adenas were also known as Moundbuilders, and several of their man-made mounds can be found in Ohio.  Many of their mounds were used for burials, though not all.  Seven mounds were located in the valley that was flooded to create the reservoir.

Archeologists had already excavated six of the seven mounds, and they did not believe them to be burial mounds.  However, the seventh mound was never examined, and could have been a communal burial site, submerged beneath the placid waters…for now.

UPDATE: I have discovered a bit of a connection to this story I didn’t expect – I have relatives who were buried in Cheshire Cemetery.  While I doubt they were some of the ones washed up, it’s still fascinating to discover that such a weird story has a personal connection.


7 thoughts on “Alum Creek State Park

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    1. I’ve never heard of a witch cabin on Hogback Road, and doing a little research, I can’t come up with anything. There’s the Cubbage Road Witch House, which is near Hoover Reservoir in Westerville, but that was a hoax and the guy who lives there has a sign up to discourage people from poking around his property. I’d be interested in knowing where you heard of this local legend about Hogback Road!

  1. I used to love spending time on the idyllic-seeming shores of the Alum Creek Reservoir. Now that I know this grisly story – I’ll have even more fun going there! It is cool to have a local gatherer of the odd. Keep up the good work!

  2. This is a wonderfully written article. I was kindergarten just before they built the Alum Creek Reservoir. I can remember the old bus route going through the valley to drop off children. Their were a lot of farms and churches, one Church in particular, Old South Berlin was where my aunts and my mother married my uncles and my dad. Old South Berlin had a cemetery , when the reservoir went in they destroyed it by caving the structure into the basement.
    They tore down three other churches for the dam. They removed and relocated South Berlin cemetery was placed behind the new church they built in 1972 on Lackey Old State Road, the only thing they saved from the old church were a few beautiful stain glass windows. The church was renamed Berlin Presbyterian. The other church was what they call now Rual Chapel on Cheshire Rd.
    The other cemeteries were combined and placed behind The Cheshire Road Berlin Township House, which some of my relatives are. I can’t recall the names of the churches now. In some of the old pictures of The old cheshire bridge ( found on The Delaware Historical Society website). You can see the old Methodist Church that was there plus one of the farms .
    To me it’s a haunting memory now what it used to look like when I was a little girl, seeing some of the houses being readied to be moved and attending the last service of Old Berlin Presbyterian Church.
    I remember my father taking us around the valley one last time before they flooded it, today you can still see some of the roads that just dead end into the water, some of them being turned into boat ramps. From up upon the dam itself, you can still see the remains of the old part of Africa Rd, another part of the old Africa Rd shoots off of the new part of Africa Rd, this is right across road from “Don’s Pawn Shop”
    Other roads that were cut off by the water of the reservoir

    Off of Lackey Old State Rd, there is Berlin Station Rd that dead ends on Lackey Old State , then a lonely old road across from it used to be called “Dunham Road” ( not sure if that is the correct spelling)

    Bale Kenyon (Canyon) is chopped in a little section by the water , seen from Africa Road.

    Another interesting fact, back in the late sixties , there was an unsolved murder of a young man, in or around the area of the reservoir, this information is found on “Cold Case Files Of Ohio”

  3. Also , The Alum Creek Reservoir was built in 1973.
    Wanted to clarify that South Berlin Presbyterian was torn down, caved into the basement.
    My grandpa took us in his boat over the spot where the church once stood.
    Thanks again for this online article

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