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Ohio Grim Tourism Offerings Create Unique Fall Experience
Funeral Museums, Prisons & Asylums, Garden Cemeteries and more await visitors
10/9/2012

Media Contacts:
Tamara Brown, (614) 466-8591
Leslie Holbrook, (614) 383-1635

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Oct. 9, 2012) - Amid preparations for harvest festivals and Halloween fright nights, there exist a number of authentic experiences uniquely suited for exploration during October. These experiences and attractions, sometimes considered grim tourism opportunities, are all tied to the mystery of death.

From museums dedicated to maintaining the history of funerary and our unexplainable fascination with the undead to garden cemeteries that offer tranquil autumn walks complemented by colorful foliage and elegantly carved monuments, Ohio offers plenty of unexpected places to discover.

"Ohio has truly unique, and sometimes bizarre, offerings for people looking for one-of-a-kind trip ideas for this fall," said Interim State Tourism Director Pat Barker. "From zombie-themed 5ks to a collection of celebrity funeral memorabilia, Ohio's grim experiences are far from average this Halloween season."

Following is a listing of some grim tourism attractions and events throughout Ohio. For more ideas on places to experience this fall, visit DiscoverOhio.com, follow us on Twitter at @DiscoverOhio or like us on Facebook.

Morbid Museums
The Sturgis House, a bed and breakfast formally known as Sturgis Funeral Home, has a mortuary museum located in its laundry room. Visitors of the bed and breakfast can see a "death mask" of Pretty Boy Floyd hanging over the washer and dryer. The mask was created by Frank Dawson, owner of the Sturgis Funeral Home, after the FBI killed Pretty Boy Floyd and brought him to the home to be embalmed. After visiting the museum, visitors may extend their stay overnight in one of the six bedrooms available at The Sturgis House.

From horse-drawn hearses to mortuary clothing, the William Lafferty Memorial Funeral and Carriage Collection located in southwest Ohio is filled with items related to the funeral home profession. The museum is named after James William Lafferty, a fourth generation funeral home director at Lafferty Funeral Home and an avid collector of mortuary items. The funeral home has been in business since 1848, and today's collection features items from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Famous Endings Museum at Toland-Herzig Funeral Home and Crematory in Dover, Ohio, has the largest known collection of memorabilia from famous funerals. The collection began in 1996 when John Herzig, who originally collected autographs, received a package containing boxer Joe Louis' funeral program in addition to an autographed picture he ordered. The museum is filled with folders, photos and documents related to the deaths of many U.S. presidents, as well as audio recordings of famous funerals and gravesite markings of legendary Americans.

Prisons & Asylums
With history lurking in every cell, the Mansfield Reformatory is one of Ohio's most historic treasures. The Reformatory opened in 1896 and housed nearly 200,000 prisoners during its nearly 100 years of operation. Since closing in 1990, the prison remains open for self-guided and group tours. In late September, the reformatory began its Haunted Prison Experience 2012 for thrill seekers looking for a one-of-a-kind experience.

Originally called the Athens Lunatic Asylum, The Ridges, located in Athens, Ohio, is one of the many mental hospitals to open its doors in the 1870s. Due to the lack of mental health understanding at the time it was built, many patients admitted to the asylum stayed there until they died and were then laid to rest at an onsite cemetery. The property has since been purchased by Ohio University which turned one of the hospital's buildings into Lin Hall, which houses The Kennedy Museum of Art.

Zombie Apocalypse
During this Halloween season, pop culture has turned its back on vampires and is consumed with zombies. Mapleside Farms' Zombiefest is featuring Cincinnati Zombie Walk. The walk begins downtown at the Freedom Center and is a free event for all ages. Following the zombie takeover, participants can stick around for an after-party at Mynt Martini on Fountain Square.

For faster-paced zombie fun, sign-up for the Zombie Buffet 5K on October 13 in Columbus, a race designed to simulate a zombie apocalypse. Participants of the race make a mad dash through 3.1 miles of zombie destruction in hopes of escaping the "infected" and crossing the finish line with their "health," or flag intact.

Grave Sites and Cemeteries
Ohio's most notable cemeteries include Spring Grove Cemetery, Lake View Cemetery and Woodland Cemetery. Located near the University of Dayton, Woodland Cemetery has segway tours that allow visitors to learn about Woodland's history while enjoying the beauty of one of the nation's five oldest rural garden cemeteries.

Lake View Cemetery is considered one of Ohio's most gorgeous cemeteries for both its luscious greenery and unique architecture. Located in Cleveland, the cemetery welcomes nearly 400,000 people a year who are interested in learning the stories of those who have been laid to rest in its 285-acre park. One of the cemetery's most-visited monuments belongs to James A. Garfield, the Ohio-born president who was assassinated just months after his inauguration in 1881.

At Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, visitors can stroll among 450 acres of beautifully manicured landscape that features an abundance of trees, shrubbery and flowers. The cemetery is recognized as the second-largest cemetery in the United States and has also been designated as a National Historic Landmark. Watch for tours covering the history, art, architecture and landscape of the National Historic Landmark, as well as what makes Spring Grove famous.

About the Office of TourismOhio
The Office of TourismOhio is the premier source of information for travelers and media about Ohio's vibrant tourism experiences, attractions and economy. Tourism marketing programs contributed to an estimated $40 billion in sales from visitor spending in 2011. A part of the Ohio Department of Development, the Office's mission is to market and celebrate Ohio's unique travel opportunities and promote the State's outstanding quality of life.
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