Expedition Team: Dave Miller
Expedition Date: July 2016
For those of you living in the Dayton area you are all familiar with this 56 foot tall tower located in the woods of Hills & Dales Metropark next to Community Golf Course. I remember my Moraine Meadows Elementary School 5th grade class taking a field trip and picnic to the tower back in 1965. But did you know who built the tower, why it was built and it’s ghostly urban legend?
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: This giant turret-shaped stone tower has also been called Frankenstein’s Castle, Stink Tower, Patterson Tower and other monikers. The tower was believed to have been built by John H. Patterson as an observation tower or a fire lookout.
PARANORMAL CLAIMS: For over forty years there were rumors that many people had been killed in the tower. After much research I discovered the tower was closed in the 1970’s after two teenagers were struck by lightning on May 17, 1967 while seeking refuge in the tower from an electrical storm. A 16 year old Bellbrook High School sophomore died (Photo #6) and her companion, a 17 teen year old Bellbrook High School junior was seriously burned. (For a full story on the tragic lightning deaths, see the May 18, 1967 edition of the Xenia Daily Gazette). Legend has it that the charred outlines of the teens were seen on the tower stone walls and steps. This fueled rumors and sightings of apparitions, nocturnal lights and a woman in a white dress appearing in the dark tower especially during storms.
THE INVESTIGATION: After additional research, I discovered the tower was built as an observation tower to overlook the park. It was NOT constructed by Patterson (who died in 1922) as work didn’t begin on the tower until 1940. Constructed by stones salvaged from condemned buildings it was built by the National Youth Administration (NYA) and finished in February of 1941. The tower has three feet thick walls and 50 steps to the top. The tower originally had a roof until it collapsed with age (Photo #1).
On July 3rd I hiked two miles in light rain. Although I have been to the tower a half dozen times before, returning to the tower for the first time in about a decade still brought goose bumps as the stone edifice slowly appeared through the trees. The iron door was gone and the entrance concreted shut. With the entrance door barred, I remember climbing and squeezing in the lower left window in the late 1980’s and walking up the spooky, winding stone staircase. Three windows wrapped around the tower at various heights. Today, the windows had bars preventing access except the left window in the lower set of three windows (Photo #5). We spend two hours until just past dusk taking photos, EVP’s and listening for anything unusual. We found no evidence during this investigation.