All of the urbex locations in YOU WERE HERE are real. Some are even open to the public. What follows is a collection of personal anecdotes, reference materials, and firsthand research.
I lived in Athens, Ohio from 2001- 2008. During that time, I explored The Ridges’ grounds as an undergrad student. I never found a way to break into The Ridges, although I did go on a haunted hayride around the grounds as part of my freshman orientation.
After I graduated, I was working as a production assistant for the film adaptation of Sherwood Anderson’s classic Winesburg, Ohio. One late afternoon, one of the producers and I were picking up tables (which were stored in The Ridges), and we took a wrong turn. The van ended up getting stuck on the dirt road behind the TB Ward, near the woods. The producer phoned for a tow truck, but in the middle of her cell call, the line cut out with someone breathing heavily. The producer went completely white and relayed the following conversation:
Deadpan male voice: Do you have an ambulance?
Deadpan male voice: We need an ambulance. She’s bleeding. She’ll die if you don’t bring an ambulance.
We abandoned the van and ran down the hill.
After I graduated, I began to work for a grant-funded organization that used some of the old patient rooms in The Ridges for storage. All of my descriptions come from the trips I would take into the dark, dusty halls of the main building. I was spooked out on multiple occasions, but the best story comes from the time my co-worker and I were investigating some of the worse-off hallways. We were walking by bricked-up doorways and the padded-walled rooms that inspired key scenes in YOU WERE HERE, when we turned a corner and ran straight into a rusted, metal gurney that hadn’t been there a few minutes before. We ran screaming.
For more information on The Ridges and the (now destroyed) TB Ward:
- FOX show Scariest Places on Earth, episode 1 “Satan’s Dormitory” PART 1 & PART 2
- Forgotten Ohio’s write-up on the TB Ward & their write-up on The Ridges
- Haunted Athens, Ohio write-up
Moonville is my favorite. Ancient, out of the way, harmless, and yet so very creepy. Here are some images from my trip into the tunnel as well as some websites to further enjoy the myth and mystery of such a forgotten place.
If you were to pick one location from YOU WERE HERE to visit, this is the one. And although I did not feel the presence of the Brakeman’s Ghost while I was there, I have spoken with hikers who have.
- Forgotten Ohio’s write-up complete with images, stories, history and a fantastic video
- Ohiost8freak’s Moonville Tunnel Documentary
- Ohio Exploration Society’s write-up
The Gates of Hell is the only urbex location in the story that I have yet to visit. However, like Jaycee and Natalie, I did spend some time draining in my youth. Here are a few websites that helped me experience this strange subterranean art museum.
- Forgotten Ohio’s write-up
- Train-Wizard’s video
- Weird U.S.’s write-up
- Largebubblewrapp’s video
- Ohio Exploration Society’s write-up
- 1unknowtou’s geocaching video
- Roadside America’s write-up
I visited Randall Park Mall often in my youth–as a shopper.
Unfortunately, I never had a chance to break in. The massive building was torn down the day after Christmas in 2014. Here are a few websites that aided in my recreation of the abandoned mall.
- This Daily Mail write-up is a sort of a one-stop site for all things Randall Park Mall
- Urbex US video and this video of the demolition
When I was a junior in high school, I got my first job as a walk around zombie entertainer at Geauga Lake’s Oktoberfest. The make-up took over an hour to put on and take off, and my pictures from those days make it far too easy to convince people that I was once an extra on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
At the end of the Geauga Lake section, Zach describes an elaborate daydream of the amusement park for Natalie. Since Geauga Lake was a very real place where I spent a good deal of my childhood, had my first date and my first job, I asked my childhood friends on Facebook for their memories, and I used their stories to construct Zach’s daydream.
- Theme Park Tourist’s write-up about the Geauga Lake’s tragic demise
- Cleveland Scene’s write-up with images
- Geauga Lake’s website
- Cleveland Aerial Media’s aerial video of the abandoned park
- Urbex US’s breathtaking video
- The video below is drone footage from February 2016. Can you find where Jaycee and Mik got that first kiss?
Remember, if you go exploring,
leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs.