In Mahoning Township (Lawrence County), hard on the Ohio border, Zombie Land (called White Bridge by the locals) is a lovers lane, party spot, druggies hangout - and the scene of murder. The desolate, two acre spread of land is frequented by teens, state police, and the supernatural.
The first tale concerns Frankenstein Bridge, from where a youth once leaped to his death. It's said that if your name appears on the bridge, the "bridge people" living underneath will find and kill you. It's also known as Puerto Rican bridge, because its early taggers were Latinos.
Another tale concerns an old oil well near the bridge. It seeps natural gas, and if you light it, you'll trigger an attack of the easily annoyed bridge people.
There's a small church by the bridge. It's reported that its boneyard sports a glowing grave.
It's home to the Blood House (now burned down), where an alleged witch lived. She only came out when she wanted to put a spell on someone - or snatch a child to kill. Her yard is supposed to be the kiddies' burying grounds.
Zombie Land has its own Green Man legend, too, featuring a handy man that was badly burned in an electrical accident who now roams the ZL roads, all the way to Steubenville. This tale is based on reality, and has been part of Tri-State history - mostly exaggerated - for decades.
The area also includes lore of ghost hounds and a phantom train, although the train legend could be explained by the echoes of actual trains resounding off the hills.
It's been the scene of grisly death, too. A car crash claimed another life. The tale, as told by one of our readers, is that Chris Jordan, aka Spoon, was riding with his friend Pat, with other friends traveling in a car behind them. Supposedly they were running from something which had chased them from Graffiti Bridge, leading to a wreck that took his life. Of course, there may be a more mundane explanation.
A reader wrote us and said "Hey, this is Patrick, and there was nothing spooky about what happened with me and Chris. And I wouldn't have lived if it wasn't for Ricky and Vinny. We hit a patch of black ice. That's it, nothing more."
A child was murdered there, when three men raped and killed a 12 year-old Ohio girl. They burned her body and left it under the Robinson's Crossing bridge.
It's also said that the mob use to dispose of their victims in the mine shafts that dot the area. But those deaths were the results of evil that walks the earth, not the supernatural.
Tom Rupe, Youngstown blogger ("Y-Town and Beyond") was kind enough to share his knowledge of Zombieland
"I guess rumors and ghost stories must evolve over the years. I was in high school in Struthers in the early 1970's and our tales our completely different to some of the accounts I've read here.
The Green Man was from Transfer, Pa. and I personally read the story of him being tragically burned by a 50,000 volt overhead powerline.
The Zombies were actually a colony of people who had 'Water On The Brain,' a medical disfigurement that causes the skull to be grossly distended making a person's head twice the size of normal. As the story goes they lived there to escape ridicule from gangs of people. Isn't that an irony?
The Eternal Flame was a 'Preventer' from keeping pockets of natural gas from accumulating in low-lying areas and being a hazard. The gas company diverted a small pipe about 10 feet in the air and lit it to burn off the excess gas."
Another reader took the time to give us an update on the locale:
"I grew up in the area and still live near there. I graduated from Campbell in 1977. We knew the area as Hook Man's. It was the same legend as lovers parked by the bridge: their car got attacked, they sped off, and later found a hook stuck in the door.
The bridge is still there. Last I knew the flame was still there. Apparently if you lit the flame hook man would come. If you walked down the stream, south from the bridge, there was a small waterfall supposedly with a coffin buried under it.
Zombieland was farther out near the quarries. A partying/swimming area mainly where you weren't allowed to be. The Green Man was real. He passed away a few years back. The glowing grave was an effect of a small light on the church reflecting off of the head stone of one grave.
Alas, progress has changed a few things. The gravel road is now paved. The trees along the sides have been trimmed up. There are housing developments going up on the east hill of the bridge. The church has updated, added more and brighter lights and now everything is lit.
I loved growing up here with the legends and stories, like the ghost lights at Lake McKelvey, Mary's Grave, and the voices at the Greek Cemetery."
There is one final legend with a saving grace. A statue of the Virgin Mary, the sole remaining piece of old St. Lawrence's church, will open her arms when it's safe to enter Zombie Land, and clasp them in prayer for the people there if it isn't safe.
No one ever recalls her arms being open.