Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Pufferbelly Restaurant in Kent, Ohio

Inspired by a topic posted on the Mysteries of the Ohio Valley Facebook page, I did a little research and discovered (much to my delight!) that there are a TON of interesting places in Kent, Ohio believed to be haunted.  Hopefully I'll get around to covering a few more of those locations soon, but let's start with the place that started it all---The Pufferbelly Restaurant.

The city of Kent hasn't always gone by the name of Kent.  Prior to 1867 it was known as Franklin Mills, and was largely dependent on the canal system for its livelihood.  However, in 1863, Marvin Kent brought the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad through town and the area quickly became known as a railroad town.  As the popularity of rail travel grew, replacing the dependence on the canals, the small wooden depot became inadequate.  A new, brick depot was finished in 1875.

But again, progress and time would change the face of Kent, Ohio.  Rail travel declined rapidly during the 1930s and by 1970, the last Atlantic and Great Western train stopped at the old depot.  That would not be the end to the old building, though!  The next year, the Kent Historical Society was formed with a goal to save depot building.  Today, it is home to several small shops, including the Pufferbelly Restaurant, which opened in 1981.

And, like many locations with a long history, the Pufferbelly Restaurant is believed to be haunted!  In an article from the Kent Daily Star about Kent's Haunted Pub Crawl, two ghosts are mentioned.  The first is simply that of a train conductor 'who loved the station so much he refused ever to leave,' even in death.  The second ghost is that of a young woman who died on the nearby train tracks.  She and her boyfriend had been out drinking one night, and stopped their car on the tracks.  The girl fell asleep, and unable to be woken up, was hit and killed by a passing train.  Somehow she made her way to the Pufferbelly restaurant.

In a recent interview with TV2, the owner and manager of the Pufferbelly claim that the most haunted hot spot of the building seems to be the dungeon-like basement, where the ghost or ghosts like to play harmless pranks on unsuspecting employees.  There's even mention of an apparition wearing a hat...

Because of all this spooky stuff going on, several investigation groups have visited the Pufferbelly in hopes of capturing evidence.  One group, S.I.G.H.T., has gotten several odd pictures with different anomalies they believe are spirits trying to manifest.  And, World Paranormal Investigations-Ohio recently released on the Facebook page that they will be filming an episode of True Ghost Stories at the Pufferbelly this May!  I'll be sure to update if I see any updates!

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