Hittin’ The Town: Touring Waterville’s haunted history

The quaint river town is offering special tours once a month through October.
Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 5:03 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Stories of ghosts and ghouls have been captivating people for centuries, and some say our region is full of them.

The historical society in a small Lucas County city has come up with a fun and educational way to share its stories.

Waterville is nearly 200 years old, and a lot of that early history is still on full display today. Some say many of the early residents are still in Waterville, too.

Most people love a good ghost story, and apparently, Waterville is full of them. Jim Conrad loves history. In fact, he taught it for several decades. Now he enjoys exploring it. “I firmly believe that in order to deal with the future and the present, you have to understand the past,” Conrad said.

Legend has it that this quaint little river town is home to quite a few lost souls. “We’re filled with ghosts,” Conrad said.

Conrad said many of the homes and buildings that are still standing today were here in the early years. “The oldest part of the Columbian House dates back to 1828. The building we’re in and the one next door date back to the 1830s. All along River Road, there are homes and buildings that go back to 1837-1838,”.

The Waterville Historical Society decided to feature some of the stories and old haunts in a special tour. Julia Wiley came up with the idea from her trips to cities like Savannah, New Orleans, and Charleston.

“It’s a great way to earn money to help preserve our museum homes and, at the same time, explore history through a little different lens. I’ve gone on a ton of ghost tours over the last twenty years, and I thought Waterville was just as quaint and picturesque as Savannah, and apparently, we have just as many, if not more, ghosts,” Wiley said.

Wiley said the historical society started by gathering stories and firsthand accounts. “We listened to people’s occurrences and experiences, and the more we talked to people, the more experiences we found. Then we talked with ghost hunters and mediums, which added layer after layer of spiritual activity.”

There are two parts to the Haunted Waterville tours. Wiley said it starts with a visit to one of the historical society’s museum homes. “Each evening we have a special guest. It could be a ghost hunter a medium, or a tarot card reader. It’s a small group setting and you get to meet that person and talk to them.”

Then a horse-drawn wagon takes you on a tour and transports you back in time. “Just hearing the clip-clop of the horses’ hooves as the trolley comes down the street makes you feel like you’ve gone back in time 150 years,” Wiley said.

So have all the ghost stories made Julia and Jim believers? “I started off as a confirmed skeptic. I’ll be honest, the more I’ve heard, it does make you wonder,” said Wiley.

“I’m analytical, but the more I learn and experience, I believe there is something out there,” said Conrad.

The Haunted Waterville tours are offered once a month now through October. The July date is the 21st. There are several different tour times offered each day.

They fill up quickly, so if you’re interested you need to book a spot.

To learn more, click here.

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