Moonville Tunnel has recently been given the honor of inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. This announcement comes after a year of applications and a 40 year long fascination for Richard Dahn.
Dahn is a member of the Moonville Rail Trail Association and he took the lead on completing the application. He has fostered an interest in Moonville since his time as a student at The Ohio State University.
For a folklore class assignment, Dahn wrote about Moonville Tunnel, a site he stumbled upon with a friend when they were camping in Vinton County in the late 1970’s. A copy of that paper along with photos taken by Dahn of the tunnel is currently on display at the Hope Schoolhouse Welcome Center.
“Its been such a wonderful ride.” said Dahn, “I did this out of love and passion for Moonville and the area.”
Dahn continued by explaining, “What makes it fun for me is because there is very little real information about it anything I find is kinda new.
He has dedicated the application to the residents of Vinton County and Brown Township as well as the workers of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad who built the tunnels, the Coe family, and the former residents of Moonville.
The register began in 1966 with the National Historic Preservation Act in a national effort to identify, evaluate, and preserve both historic and archeological places in America.
In order to register a site, the process will typically start at the state level with an application to the state’s historic preservation office. Exceptions to this would be if the property is on federal or tribal lands as those would be under federal jurisdiction.
From there, the state will take public comment and reach out to the property owners to make sure they are on board with the nomination. They are then reviewed by the state preservation office and then by the state’s National Register Review Board. This process will normally take at least three months.
Once the state has gone over the application it is sent off to the National Park Service in Washington D.C. for a final look. Decisions are made from there within 45 days.
Certain criteria must be met in order for properties to be eligible, including the property’s age, significance, and integrity. Structures typically must be at least 50 years old, relatively unchanged from the time of construction, and be the location of events or circumstances that were important to the past.
Caleb Appleman of the Vinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau expressed hope that with the recognition will come more tourism. He also mentioned his hope that they will be able to place historical markers in he area as well.
In other Moonville news, Midnight at Moonville is still set to take place on Oct 9, 2021. Vinton County Convention and Visitor Bureau along with Moonville Rail Trail Association are currently looking for merchandise vendors and volunteers for the event.
Within the next few weeks, work on multiple bridges along the rail trail is set to be completed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Bridge Company. The work will culminate in a continuous trail from Moonville Tunnel to King’s Hollow Tunnel in Athens County.
After visiting the tunnel, those interested in purchasing Moonville merchandise can visit the Hope Schoolhouse across the dam at Lake Hope on Wheelabout Road.