Valley of the Trolls

Ghosts and goblins rule on five-hour trek through Northeast Ohio's national park.

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Take it from Oberlin psychic Sonya Horstman: Sundown is the best time to grab your camera and snap a shot of a haunted spirit on tonight's Cuyahoga Valley Urban Legends Tour. Even her bus driver was spooked by an apparition as he chauffeured 30 ghostbusters through the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park last year. "He was pretty shook up. He pointed toward a shed and said, 'Oh, my God! Right there, you guys!' And the second it flashes, you caught an image of a man walking toward you. And everybody screeched," says Horstman. "He was, like, 'I saw it too. There's no denying it.'"For seven years, Horstman has guided curiosity-seekers through the park to give them the truth about decades-old myths, like the "Helltown" fable, in Boston Township, where Satan himself is said to live. There's also a little-known former psychiatric hospital nestled in the woods, where Sasquatch is rumored to camp out in — ready for this? — the same ward where serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was evaluated before he went to prison. Neither story is true, says Horstman. "We'll hit haunted bridges and lost cemeteries, where there were murders, drownings, a supposed lynching, and where there's supposed to be a ghost living in a house," she says. "I bust open these urban legends. After all, I want you to kick around with real ghosts."She backs up the claim by giving each patron a "dowsing rod" to sense the spiritual vibes. And the phantoms could unexpectedly make their presence known during subsequent tours on August 16, September 20, September 27, and every Saturday night in October leading up to Halloween. "When you've been to a place where there's been a murder, you might get a stab in your gut. When you go to a cemetery that's been desecrated, you get a weird feeling. We can't explain the phenomenon," says Horstman. "But I will open up your psychic antennae." Hop on board at 6 tonight at Cuyahoga Valley National Park's Happy Days Visitor Center on State Route 303 in Peninsula. Tickets are $45. Call 440-775-1217 or visit
Sun., July 20, 6 p.m., 2008

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