Activities to do in Athens other than party at Fests

Weekends in Athens are comparable to other college towns, the students spend most of their free time going to parties. The spring in Athens is full of parties outside houses and are what everyone talks about as the better weather encourages students to party outside instead of in small houses. Are you a student, prospective student or parent and want to know what other than partying you can do at OU? Here is a list of a number of other activities that you can do other than partying and the reasoning why you should do these.


The Ash cave at Hocking Hills. (Photo Credit: Always Shooting)

College is about learning to be efficient with your time and combining working out with being outside through hiking is a prime example. Athens is surrounded by parks and hiking trails that offer different experiences. All these parks have great views and are easy to hike around. Hocking Hills is the one most people go to but there are many others that are awesome to go to including Stroud’s Run State Park and Sells Park.

The Ridges

The Ridges (Photo Credit: )

The most haunted place on campus is The Ridges where there are many types of activities to partake in. The main building there used to be the mental health hospital Southeastern Ohio and is on a hill just across the Hocking River from the main part of OU. It is usually really busy right around Halloween so the best time to go is in the spring. There is an old cemetery there that is nice to look around and the whole area is a great place to explore. You might find something new every time you go!!!

Kennedy Museum of Art

The inside of the Kennedy Museum of Art (Photo Credit:

The Kennedy Museum of Art is part of The Ridges but deserves its own point as it is very different than the rest of the area. From the outside, you would not know that a museum is inside the old hospital as the outside is nondescript. The museum is very modern and houses exhibitions from students in the area that vary depending on the time of the year. Going once to see the exhibits is not enough as they are constantly changing.


The Hockhocking Adena Bikeway is a great way to explore other areas without needing a car as it is a 21-mile long bike path between Athens and Nelsonville. You can also walk parts of the bike path if you want to. If you begin in Athens and go the full distance you end up in the Historic Square Arts District in Nelsonville that is a great place along with the whole town to check out.

The Hockhocking Adena Bikeway in the spring (Photo Credit:

Organization Events

With so many university organizations there is always an event to go to that have such have such variety in what they are about. That means there is something for everyone to go to and most of these events are on weekends or when students are free as the leaders of the organizations are all students. One of the main events of the year is the International Week, which culminates in the International Street Fair put on by the International Student Union.



Most students do not have much money to spare while at college but if they are not spending the little money they have on partying they can use it for other activities. That money can be used to go shopping at local clothing stores that have very interesting clothes and not that expensive. These stores are a perfect example of what Athens is and are a great place to meet like-minded people while looking through clothes.


The Athena Cinema at night. (Photo Credit: Katherine Egli)

There are a few movie theaters in Athens and they are a good place to go in the evenings or if you want to take your mind off whatever for a few hours. The Athena Cinema is the most known as it hosts many events and has movies and documentary shown for a couple of days. Sometimes the filmmaker comes also and has a talk about the movie.


Most sporting events cost money but being a student you get in for free. Well, you pay for it in your tuition and student fees but you aren’t losing any money out of your pocket when you go to the events. Baseball and softball are the two teams around in the spring that are often playing in Athens on the weekend. Saturdays are usually the days these teams play most of their games so you can be watching sports for most of the day instead of partying. Always good to support teams that bring glory to OU.


The activity that costs no money at all is hanging out with friends and just relaxing on weekends. During the week, everyone is very busy with schoolwork so there is very little time to hang out. There are so many possibilities to do when with a group of friends that don’t include going out and partying. Some of those include playing board games and video games along with just sitting around talking to get to know everyone better. There are also activities that you can do by yourself like watching movies and sports on TV.

As you can see there are other activities to do other than partying and you are not the only one that does not party. The town and university are known for their big parties but some of the other activities are more fun and you can learn from them. Go out and explore all that Athens offers you!!!!



Readheads gone wild: Athens addition

With the semester officially half over, a little family time is a necessity. Maddie and Spencer (who are not siblings I promise) live in Indiana and decided to come stay the weekend for a little family get together. And as college students/recent graduates, food is obviously close to their hearts. So on this edition of “Redheads Gone Wild,” here is us taking on Athens

Crazy relaxation at the looney bin.

It may sound a little crazy, but next time you get the chance you should really stop by the Athens Insane Asylum…I mean the Ridges.

The Ridges (formerly the Athens Insane Asylum), was a functioning mental health hospital from 1874 to 1993. Ohio University obtained the property in 1989, the land grab almost doubled the size of the Athens, Ohio main campus.

Despite its marred past of mistreating the mentally ill and partaking in acts of quackery such as lobotomy and shock therapy, along with its believed connection to the supernatural, the Ridges is a perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon.

This piece of 19th century architectural gold sits atop the hill (or the ridge rather) on the south side of the Hocking River directly across from West Green. Take a walk out Richland Ave. past the roundabout. Then you will come to a park. Hang a right and then head up the rugged brick road.

(Photo: Eben George
Large black birds perched atop the historic Ridges complex at Ohio University. (Photo: Eben George)

The sprawling grassy knolls of the Ridges make for a perfect picnic perch, lofted above the Hocking River Valley. Bring a friend or a special companion along with you. Layout on a blanket, soak up some rays and raise your serotonin levels with some good ol’ fashion vitamin D.

The beautiful green space at the Ridges makes for a perfect place to collect your thoughts, hit the books and hang with friends. (Photo: Eben George)

If being lazy and lethargic isn’t your thing, then get active and in touch with your nature side. Take a hike on one of the Ridges hiking trails. The favorite trail among students is the Ridges Cemetery Nature Walk. The gravel trail winds through the hill littered, dense wooded area surrounding the grounds.

The cemetery is somewhat of an eerie place, old, decrepit grave markers are scattered throughout a clearing on the hill. Many of the markers bear no name, rather just a number to identify the deceased patients. The lack of names is due to the stigma surrounding the mentally ill during the early days neuroscience and mental healthcare.

It doesn’t take long to notice that many of the buildings at the Ridges are in ill-repair. Despite the crumbling facade, the future does look bright for the the Ridges.

In 2015 OU announced that it has developed a tentative plan to make major renovations to the existing buildings. The plan also includes utilizing the land for new structures.

The university has yet to set a timeline and funding plan for the project in stone. However, the 700-acre complex presents the university with its greatest opportunity for physical expansion. This need for expansion becomes more evident as the main campus population inches closers toward 25,000

Ohio University has already renovated serval of the structures at the Ridges. Most notably the asylum’s administration building, now know as Lin Hall. It boast iconic victorian towers and a breathtaking three tiered porch. Inside the beautiful Scofield creation now resides the Kennedy Museum of Art .

Lin Hall's stunning Victorian era towers were designed by the prominent Cleveland architect, Levi Scofield, in 1868. (Photo: Eben George)
Lin Hall’s stunning Victorian era towers were designed by the prominent Cleveland architect, Levi Scofield, in 1868. (Photo: Eben George)

Regardless of your interest, the Ridges is a perfect place to unwind from the tightly wound spool of college life. Go and catch up on your R and R before you wind up being in need of a lobotomy yourself.


Potential grad students should understand the challenges and opportunities of their programs and community

Being a graduate student is a life changing experience, and students often take on a dual role as both a student and teacher.

Students considering Ohio University have a lot to consider before they enroll. First, there is the classroom where students are going to be asked to do much more than they did as undergraduates. There will also be the addition of research expectations, and finally many will have to get used to living in a new community.

There is certainly an adjustment that must be made in the classroom. Amber Damiani, a graduate student in sociology, stated the expectations increase and students have to change how they take on assignments.

Graduate students need to start planning their project immediately, there is no room for procrastination, she said. In the following video Damiani talks about developing good habits for classroom work.

The additional reading and writing isn’t the only adjustment. Students at the graduate level also have more freedom to choose what classes they will take to help them meet their professional goals.

Students at the graduate level need to change their mindset from one of simply taking classes to fill requirements to one where they consider how classes will impact their future career, said Jamie Beth Boster, a doctoral student in communication sciences and disorders.

“You can really expand and build on things that you are interested in,” Boster said.

While students can still explore in classes, they also can really dig deep into certain areas, she said. Graduate school is much more about the individual and developing as a professional.

This leads Boster to provide advice in the following video about thinking deeply about the program you choose.

Entering Grad School

When considering what school to attend there are a lot of things that should be considered.

First among them should be a true interest in the area a person is considered studying.

Students getting into graduate school shouldn’t be afraid to take a year off and truly consider what they want to do. In psychology taking a year off is not uncommon, said Allix Beauchamp, a doctoral student in OU’s psychology department.

“They should organize their thoughts, think about what they want to do, where they want to go, and what field of research is most intriguing to them,” she said. “There’s a lot going on in your senior year, people start feeling burnt out they’re wrapping up this major part of their life.”

Such a big change in life can be overwhelming. Once a student has made it to the interviewing process the school has acknowledged the student is a good candidate, Beauchamp said.

The goal for the student should be to determine if they are “a good fit for the type of program that (the school) likes to foster,” she said.

Some programs are more involved with mentoring while are less so, Beauchamp said.

“These are questions you really need to know because this sets the foundation for the rest of your life,” she said.

The student can’t be afraid to ask questions about the type of program during the interview process, Beauchamp said. This is because as Beauchamp talks about below graduate school has an significant impact on the rest of your career.

Potential graduate students get a lot of bad advice from people about what they should do, according to Elizabeth Keenan in an article on Vitae.

Furthermore, potential students need to be aware of the challenges they will face while seeking an advanced degree. For example an article from Inside Higher Ed warns that students must be prepared to take charge of their own program, understand why their work is important, and finally comprehend that most of the problems that face graduate students are psychological.

Research and Teaching Expectations

 There are research expectations that come with being a graduate student. Students are expected to contribute to the body of research in their field.

Students should understand that once they turn in a paper they shouldn’t just forget about it. Most graduate students want to do something with their work, said Ryan Dunham, a doctoral student in media arts and studies.

“In graduate school your goal should be to turn term papers into conference papers,” he said. “Use the feedback from the professor to improve your piece.”

Then if the paper is accepted by a conference take the feedback received at the conference and edit the paper again so it can be submitted to journals, Dunham said. The final goal is to get the paper published in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

As a second year doctoral student in Journalism, I believe that graduate students need to take the role of researcher seriously.


It’s hard to understand when you first arrive, but having confidence in your work and understanding not just what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how it ties into existing research will be what leads to a job when you finish your program.

In addition to research, graduate students often teach classes. This places students in the position of being both a student and teacher. Students also should understand they have to take the teaching responsibility seriously, make it a priority and not simply focus on their own work even if you might feel overwhelmed.

You have to remember the teaching is often your job as a graduate student and why you don’t have to pay for school. The reviews from students will also influence your ability to get a job.

Around Athens

Not every student focused on the academic side of being a graduate student, some sought to inform incoming students about interesting things to do in and around Athens. The town of Athens and the surrounding area has a number of things for students to do outside of class.

Damiani recommends outside of class enjoying the bike paths. The library allows you to check out a bike and check it back in.

“It’s a good way to see the area. It’s a way you can see the outdoors and not always be cooped up and studying,”

It would be helpful if the university offered tours, or some other type of resources, to new graduate students to learn about the history of the area and see some of the more interesting sites like Bong Hill or The Ridges, which does have tours. It would be a way for students to understand some of the rich culture within the area.

“It’s a small town so there’s the movie theater, a bowling alley, and of course the bar scene,” she said.

Steve Richardson, a master’s student in geography, focused on the number of hiking trails in the area.


In addition, he talked about the number of breweries in the area as something grad students like to visit.

“Most people don’t know there are actually four breweries within the Athens area you have Jackie O’s, you have Little Fish (Brewing Company), you have Devil’s Kettle (Brewing), and there’s another one that’s being built,” Richardson said. “It’s great to have local breweries creating fresh local beer for you whenever you want.”

I also believe that graduate students shouldn’t be afraid to venture away from Athens and explore the surrounding communities. Those who simply stay within the city will not understand all the area has to offer or really comprehend the culture of Southeast Ohio.

While graduate school is demanding Dunham has some advice for keeping your sanity.

Finally this slideshow shows a few of the offices where graduate students at Ohio University engage in research and meet with students.

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A Not So Haunted Haven

A few of the headstones.
A few of the headstones.

When many think of the Athens Lunatic Asylum cemeteries, their minds race toward death. When I think of those same places, I am transported back to the sticky summer day that I laid my sunhat down in the grass, a few feet from an unmarked grave, and discovered my hideaway.

I had decided to spend the afternoon reading some fairytales and lounging on Radar Hill. After a pang of curiosity hit me and I made a sharp right through a clearing in the woods, I found my feet taking me over a small wooden bridge toward a stagnant pond surrounded by trees. It was gorgeous, to say the least. I have always found solace in seclusion and there was not a soul in eyesight or earshot. After the damp, slightly fishy smell of the water became too overwhelming, I made my way up a small hill to what I discovered was the back end of an asylum cemetery.

The bridge that leads to my small paradise.
The bridge that leads to my small paradise.

I saw that there were stretches of graves on the opposite side of another wooden bridge, but as I approached I noticed some headstones that tapered off down the hill I was wandering on. I immediately panicked, thinking I had traipsed all over someone’s final resting place. After checking things out, I realized that I hadn’t moronically stomped on someone.

The next hour or so, I spent my time examining the moss-covered graves and contemplating the people that lie beneath the earth. The only identifiers these departed people had were numbers. Given the anonymity of the numbers and the hidden nature of the gravesite, I gathered that these people rarely got visitors. Things like that always touch me

My sunhat, backpack and blanket.
My sunhat, backpack and blanket.

in a way that I struggle to explain, so I laid my blanket down and spent my afternoon with the lonely and (presumably) forgotten.

If I ever need time to think, be alone, meditate or gather myself, I visit my secret place among the dead. I am not always keen to share my special places with anyone, let alone the entire Internet, but I hope someone can find the same comfort and peace in this magical little spot.

Ghosts of Athens Past

When I was a kid, I had an inexplicable fascination with all things morbid and macabre. I thought Wednesday Addams was the coolest and I read “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” over and over. I once convinced my elementary school class that I had a family of ghosts living in my house, even going so far as to plant evidence around my house when I had classmates over to prove I was telling the truth. It may then be seen as fitting that I ended up attending college here in Athens, because although you may not realize it, Ohio University has repeatedly been named the most haunted college campus in America. In fact, Athens was featured in an episode of the popular television show “Supernatural” for this very reason. As we head into October, I’d like to take a look at a few of the most famous supernatural legends here at OU. So light a pumpkin-scented candle, grab a mug of hot apple cider, and read away (and maybe sleep with a light on tonight).

The Weeping Angel of the West State Cemetery

The Statue Itself – all photos by Brooke Robinson

The story behind this Athens landmark is one that has probably been told about every angel statue in every graveyard in the world, but it’s eerie nonetheless. This statue was built as a memorial to the unknown dead buried in the cemetery. The angel is said to cry and move from time to time.

Wilson Hall

Wilson Hall on West Green

Nicholas Lantz, a journalism student at OU and author of the book “Ghosts and Legends of Athens, Ohio,” said that there is a vast difference between the legend of Wilson Hall and the facts behind it.

“If you do your research,” Lantz said, “you’ll find that the reality is a series of unrelated events and oral storytelling that happened over a couple decades and blended together to become this whole different story.”

The story goes that decades ago, a female student took to practicing Satanism in  her room (room 428). After not being heard from for a few days, resident assistants checked her room and found that she had killed herself, but not before writing Satanic scripture on the walls in her own blood.

According to Lantz, the true story is this: in the 1970s, a female student with an interest in the paranormal requested room 428. One day, RAs noticed that she had an altar in her room and assumed it was Satanic. When confronted, the girl acknowledged the altar but said it was a meditation altar, nothing more. During this confrontation, she did say that two girls down the hall were known Satanists who liked to try and summon spirits for fun in her dorm room, which may have been contributing to paranormal activity in the building.

“As for the ‘blood’ on the walls,” Lantz said, “that girl had drawn a dragon on her wall in red crayon. That’s literally all it was.”

Lantz maintains that Wilson Hall is a very haunted building, perhaps due in part to the building having been built on a cemetery owned by the Ridges.

“The bodies were all moved before construction began,” he continued, “at least, all the bodies they could find. But my friends have had personal experiences in that building. It is the most haunted dorm on campus but not for the reason people think it is.”

Simms Cemetery

I was unable to get a photo of this location because it’s actually a small family cemetery on private property, and on top of that, it’s notoriously difficult to find. The website Forgotten Ohio says this cemetery is “said to actually move, making it difficult to locate for the Ohio University students who regularly search for it.”

Lantz doesn’t advise scouting out this haunted locale, but he does say that the stories that are commonly told about it are generally based on fact.

“There was in the 1800s a local hangman who would hang people for the smallest crimes,” Lantz said. “I don’t know if he was a government employee or not, but his name was John Simms and he did exist. There’s a tree in the cemetery that they would hang the victims from. I’ve known people who’ve found the cemetery, and they’ve said there are actually fragments of rope from nooses still on the tree.”

Reported ghost sightings here include the alleged screams of unjustly executed victims coming from the area, the shadowy figure of a man in a black hood (assumed to be John Simms himself), and in one case, the spectral image of a body hanging from a tree.

The Ridges

The Unmistakable Facade of The Ridges

Of course, there can’t be a story about haunted locations in Athens without mentioning this famous former lunatic asylum. The tale told most often concerning the asylum is the account of the infamous “body stain.”

Forgotten Ohio recounts the tale of a patient disappearing from a ward in the late 1970s. Over a month later, her corpse was found in a room on an abandoned upper floor. Before her death of heart failure, she had taken off her clothes and folded them. The eeriest and most memorable part of the tale is that her body left a stain on the ground where it had lain for weeks – a stain that remains to this day.

“The body stain does exist,” Lantz confirmed. “I’ve seen it myself several times.”

Do you see any faces in the windows?

Continuing to draw from his own personal experience, Lantz recounted a paranormal investigation in which he participated two years ago.

He said, “I was exploring in the basement area, which was originally used to house the really dangerous patients, when I heard a weird noise and walked into this room that honestly resembled a dungeon. Then I saw that written on all the walls in chalk was a mental patient’s diary – literally from ceiling to floor – talking about how he’s not crazy, how he sees these creatures with yellow eyes and fangs following him in his dreams.”

Lantz went on to say that parts of the diary were hard to decipher, but one particularly chilling phrase written on the wall reads, “The demon, the demon it follows.”

No names, only numbers.

After discovering this room, he and the rest of his group did an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) session, in which electronic recordings are made and played back to detect spiritual voices.

“One question I asked was, ‘Are you afraid?'” Lantz recalled. “You could hear a faint, ‘No,’ on the recording. Then we asked if there was any reason for us to be afraid, and this deep voice very clearly said, ‘Yes.'”

One of The Ridges Cemeteries

Another incident took place just minutes after Lantz and his group had entered the building.

“We were setting up equipment when we heard a female voice scream. There were only two women in the building and they were right next to us, and just when we heard that scream the bathroom lights turned on. I don’t know how else you would explain that,” he said.

Are the Ridges as overrun with paranormal activity as all the tales claim?

As Lantz put it, “I thought the stories were way overhyped, but to be honest I was pleasantly surprised with my experience. But I don’t think it’s as haunted as some people build it up to be.”

The Ridges: evolution of an insane asylum

The Ridges is a former “insane asylum” that sits to the Southwest of Ohio University’s campus. The mental institution – originally named the Athens Lunatic Asylum in 1874 – was one of many in Ohio at the time. The asylum largely treated a large number of Civil War veterans who suffered from PTSD. Patient population was at a manageable level and  treatments were humane until the early 1900s.

In the 1900s, the number of patients increased tenfold (200 to 2000). Teenagers labeled as rebellious and women suffering from hysteria – usually women crazy enough to enjoy sex – were sent to the asylum in addition to people who actually did have mental problems.  A Complex Magazine article, listing America’s craziest insane asylums (The Ridges made number one), claimed that a women named Margaret Shilling was one of these women suffering from “hysteria”.

Shilling attempted to escape the asylum by hiding in the attic. But she never did leave that attic. She died of starvation before she could even reach the Hocking River. A stain on the floor of the asylum has been credited as Shilling’s decomposing corpse’s imprint.

It seems like the stain would be removed if possible
Margaret Shilling’s permanent stain – totallytop10

The growing population become harder to handle. Despite the fact that the patient intake was growing, the number of staff had remained relatively unchanged. Patients thought to be uncontrollable were put through tortuous acts and mutilation. “Water treatment” – being confined to an ice-cold bath or being immobilized by being wrapped in freezing-cold sheets – was common.  Shock therapy was frequently used. Doctors preformed lobotomies on who they termed the most violent and uncontrollable patients. A new type of lobotomy – the trans-orbital lobotomy – was developed by Dr. Walter J. Freeman in the early 1950s. His procedure was used at the Athens Asylum.

“This simpler lobotomy became something of a craze in mental health circles up through the 60s. Dr. Freeman’s method involved knocking the patient unconscious with electric shocks, then rolling an eyelid back and inserting a thin metal icepick-like instrument called a leucotome through a tear duct. A mallet was used to tap the instrument to the proper depth into the brain. Next it was sawed back and forth to sever the neural receptors. Sometimes this was done in both eyes.” – Forgottenohio

Dr. Freeman performs a trans-orbital lobotomy in 1949 - Forgottenohio
Dr. Freeman performs a trans-orbital lobotomy in 1949 – Forgottenohio

In the decades to follow, previous methods of treatment were phased out in favor of anti-psychotic drugs, such as Thorazine. Dosages and the drugs themselves were refined over the years. Medication was obviously a more humane way of controlling patients. During this time and up until the mental health center was given to Ohio University in the 1990s, overall treatment of patients was massively improved. Treatments formally expanded into drug rehabilitation and geriatrics.

But The Ridges’ sorted past has inspired many legends. Many people still claim that the asylum is haunted by its former patients. It is rumored that the most haunted part of the grounds is the cemetery where there are many unnamed graves. Many former patients had neither family nor someone who cared enough to pay for a tombstone. The graves are marked simply by numbers.

The Ridges Cemetery - attribution?
The Ridges Cemetery

The final patients were moved in 1993. Renovations were made to most of the buildings by Ohio University once it gained ownership. Many offices are now at the ridges and the main building, Lin Hall, houses the Kennedy Museum of Art.  Few of these “mental institutions” still stand today. Even fewer are in the condition that The Ridges is in. Its buildings are a haunting reminder of the worst days in America’s effort to “treat” the mentally unstable and patients termed as being “hysterical”.