Another Casket Unearthed At Ohio LakeOhio – Alum Creek Lake, a key attraction to visitors of the Alum Creek Lake State Park, entered the news again this week not because of the beauty of the lake and the surroundings, but because of disturbing news that yet another casket was partially unearthed on Monday near the Alum Creek dam. To most, the appearance of caskets near such a popular recreational area would be cause for great alarm. However, residents in Central Ohio have experienced such findings in the past and the reason, while potentially disturbing, is explainable.
The site of Alum Creek Lake area near the dam was once the home to a cemetery, with roots in the 1800s, that was relocated in the 1970s during the building of the Alum Creek Lake by the US Army Corp of Engineers. Unfortunately, as many ancestry researchers find during their work many old cemeteries had cases of inconsistent record keeping, burials without markers, and records that were lost or destroyed through time. In the 1970s, the US Army Corp of Engineers met a challenge in the relocation of the old Cheshire Cemetery, on the site of the Alum Creek Lake area near the dam, because the cemetery records had been lost in a fire. According the West Virginia Division of the US Army Corps of Engineers, 1499 grave sites were located in that initial move to new resting places in the Berlin Township Cemetery.
In the spring of 2009, erosion along the lake banks attributed to the uncovering of previously undiscovered caskets. After a temporary closure of the area to the public during that time, the Army Corp of Engineers archaeologists determined that traces of human remains had been found in 7 of 10 unearthed caskets and one vault. It was reported at that time that the caskets had been missed due to a lack of burial records during the 1970s move. It was acknowledged during the spring investigation that mortuary officials left some empty caskets and vaults behind in the initial 1970s move as remains were relocated. Natural erosion and low water levels, as present during periods of drought as in 2009, have led to the discovery of caskets in previous years as well. The 1991 drought unearthed several gravesites that were later relocated.
After the spring 2009 discovery, the US Army Corp of Engineers received funding to place stone along the Alum Creek Lake Edge to prevent further erosion in the area. The Corps work on containing the upper shoreline is complete with work on the lower shoreline to commence on December 1.
The latest November findings yielded no human remains, as determined by representatives from the US Army Corp of Engineers and Devore-Snyder Funeral Home, who assisted in the spring site investigation.
There is no anticipated closure of the area due to recent findings and erosion prevention work will continue as planned.