Long ago when I was a college student, I worked in one of the cafeterias with my friend Bill.
Bill and I were expert grill cleaners and floor moppers who were so intricate with our work that it would take us at least an hour and a half each day to clean one grill and then mop around it. We also spent time in the cafeteria honing our communication and networking skills while multitasking by looking for leftover food that we did not want to go to waste due to our commitment to sustainability.
Bill lived near me in the residence halls, where we spent most of our time studying euchre and Van Halen instead of our homework.
Anyway, we worked for a few years in the cafeterias, where we got to be friends with some great managers like Rodney, Woody, Larry, Maggie and Sonya, and we got to be even better friends with many of the cooks and maintenance workers.
One guy in particular, Tony, was just about the nicest guy ever and would always be happy to smile and talk to us, while also questioning why it took us so long to clean those grills.
Tony also told us several times about this haunted but scenic place named Moonville and suggested that we should see it sometime.
“Sure, we’ll do that Tony,” we lied while we were instead thinking things like “What in the world is Moonville and why would we go there?” and “ “Is there a party there? Can we play euchre at Moonville?“ or “Are there any more leftover fish sandwiches in here to eat tonight?”
Needless to say, we never made it out to the spot Tony talked about we were in college, and with our commitment to euchre and Van Halen, we were probably lucky just to make it out of college.
In the decades since, I heard a lot about Moonville and finally made it there about 10 years ago, but was only there for a short time as it was actually for work.
So recently, my wife and I decided to travel there for an afternoon so that I could finally get a good look at the place and see what Tony was talking about all those years ago.
In case you don’t know, Moonville is located in Vinton County, Ohio, in the Zaleski State Forest. It is near the very nice Lake Hope State Park and is a short drive from where we live in Athens.
At one time, there was a small village of Moonville, and there is a lot of information about it online. A railroad apparently connected the towns of Moonville and Hope, and the railroad is why people still travel to the park area today, except they don’t travel there by train.
While no train tracks remain and there is not much of the old village, the main attraction is the scenic and amazing tunnel through the hillside. The tunnel was built for the railroad in the 1800s and is a fun to see and walk through. The area around the tunnel is beautiful, too, with trails, a very nice new footbridge bridge over Raccoon Creek, a parking area and a lot of great views.
The old bricks in the tunnel are worth looking at, and the entire area is very nice. It is astounding to me that they were able to build such a tunnel so long ago and it is interesting to think about how it has stood the test of time. It’s a nice glimpse back into the past, while it is also a beautiful outdoors area.
It’s also fun place to pretend you are a train, but that is true of most places.
We saw people of all ages hiking and enjoying the area, and I know people ride bikes and horses (not at the same time) in the area there, too.
The internet is filled with ghost stories about Moonville, but we didn’t see any while we were there. They were probably hiding behind all of the bigfoots (bigfeet?) we saw in the woods. Also, we were there in the daytime, and I am sure it is much spookier at night. I also think basement are spooky at night, though, so I may not be the best judge.
And although we didn’t see any ghosts, we did spend a lot of time with blood-sucking mosquitos that were prevalent on the day we were there.
After spending a nice amount of time at Moonville, I was quite impressed with the way the trails, bridge and everything has been fixed up so nicely, and with how peaceful and pretty the area was. We are lucky to have so many parks and scenic areas nearby, and I’m glad I finally got to try out the tunnel and park. Aside from the massive blood loss from the mosquitoes, we had a great time.
Thinking about our afternoon at Moonville, I must say that Tony was right with his advice so long ago, and I plan on telling him this whenever I see him again. I still see Tony around town every once in a while, and he somehow always remembers me, smiles and says hello.
To be honest I think that Tony is one of only two faculty or staff members still at the university who actually remembers me as a student. I don’t know what that says about my age or academic skills, but it says a lot about a nice guy who took the time to talk to Big Bill and me when we were just geeky students trying to find our way around the university and make a little money in the cafeteria long ago.
It’s funny the impression that people can make on you, even if they don’t realize it at the time.
I know the next time I see my friend Bill, we’ll talk about Tony and the cafeteria, and the good times we had together in college. I’ll tell Bill that Tony was right and that he should venture out to Moonville with his family sometime soon. It will be a fun conversation, and Bill and I will undoubtedly have a fun time catching up and reminiscing about the good old days until, of course, I destroy him once again in euchre.
I can already feel it. I am definitely winning the next game! Take that Bill! Euchre!