Employees and Guests Began Reporting Strange Occurrences
NEWBURY, Ohio, October 7, 2005 - You know there might be something unusual about a hotel when you see an image of a lumberjack hanging by the neck from a rope that appears to be tied from the rafters of the lounge. That's what employees of Geauga County's Punderson Manor State Park Resort saw one early morning several years ago. They watched in horror for nearly three hours as the rotating image slowly faded with the morning light. The hanging lumberjack is arguably the most frightening apparition among the dozens of strange occurrences recorded at the elegant 31-room Northeast Ohio resort since it opened to guests in the 1950s.
Here is a sampling of other stories told by visitors and guests:
Long never completed his home; he lost his fortune in the Depression and died just prior to completion. The property reverted back to the original owners, the W.B. Cleveland family, and eventually ended up in the hands of the State of Ohio. The State designated the 1,000-acre area surrounding Punderson Lake, including the unfinished and boarded-up mansion, as an Ohio State Park in 1948.
The land that is now the State Park was first settled by Lemuel Punderson and his wife, Sybal, in 1802. Punderson operated a grist mill and distillery. He and his wife are buried side by side at the southern tip of the lake. When Punderson died, his heirs sold the property to W. B. Cleveland. The acreage was eventually passed on to a son-in-law, Dr. Coopedge, who sold it to Karl Long in 1929.
The State completed construction of the mansion in 1956 and opened it to guests for lodging and dining. Seeing a need for more guest rooms, the State added a wing with additional guest rooms and built 26 two-bedroom cabins. By the 1970s, the rambling resort had become a popular destination for day-trips and short vacations among Clevelanders looking for a rural getaway.
It was in the 1970s that resort employees, guests and other visitors began to report strange occurrences, some merely annoying and others downright terrifying.
Once, a self-proclaimed psychic agreed to try to make contact with the ghosts of Punderson. Upon emerging two hours later from the Tower in the original section, she said she had spoken with a ghost who "looked a little like Teddy Roosevelt. He says he will continue to haunt this place until his rocking chair is returned."
Countless investigations into these strange sightings have revealed few clues. There is no record of any deaths in the mansion but research continues. Nor are there records of children having lived there. A long-time resident of Geauga County born in 1889 and active in the Geauga County Historical Society, however, said he remembered hearing of The Wales Hotel, an inn across the lake that burned in 1885. Many children were said to be victims of the fire. Today, the Punderson State Park campground is situated on the site of the old hotel.
When asked if anyone he knew from the area looked like Teddy Roosevelt, he said, "Well, yes, I guess you could say Cleveland looked a little like Teddy Roosevelt. At least he had a mustache like Roosevelt's."
Before the investigator left, the elderly historian invited him to view the Historical Society's museum. "We have a lot of things in there of historical value," he explained to the investigator. "Our prize possession is Sybal Hickox's rocking chair. After she married Lemuel Punderson, they brought it all the way here by wagon from Connecticut." That same rocking chair was eventually inherited by W.B. Cleveland. Some say Cleveland is still rumbling through Punderson Manor looking for that rocking chair. It has never been returned.
Managed by Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the Punderson Manor Resort & Conference Center offers 31 rooms and 26 fully furnished two-bedroom housekeeping cabins. Punderson is truly a year-round destination with a wide range of recreational amenities including an 18-hole championship golf course that is recognized as one of the finest public courses in northeast Ohio.
Punderson Manor Resort & Conference Center
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