Beaver Creek AKA Sprucevale
Echo Dell Road
East Liverpool, OH
Not far over the state line of Pennsylvania resides the remnants of an old town that was built based on an operable and profitable canal system cutting through the Beaver Creek. The small town of Sprucevale was established in 1837 on the Hambleton Brothers’ property. These brothers owned the land which is now owned by the Beaver Creek State Park. They established this town expecting it to grow and make them rich, all based on the success of the canal system.
The town seemingly was constructed over night as the brothers built a mill, locksmith shop, general store, and a small factory. At the town’s height, and due to the final construction of canal, there were 19 families living in Sprucevale in 1848.
In 1852, a mere four years of operation and minimal increases in revenue, the Sandy & Beaver Canal faced disaster. The reservoir, leading to the canal, was busted open and caused irreparable damage to the canal itself. The canal would need to be rebuilt due to the severity of the collapse of the reservoir, but there was simply not enough income in the area and due to the changes in transportation, namely the increased revenues of nearby railroads.
Because of the collapse, and the dependence upon the success of the canal, the young town of Sprucevale was slowly abandoned. By 1870, Sprucevale was a ghost town. To this day, all that remains is the mill and portions of the factory.
Even though the town was forgotten, some local legends and true events live on, long after the abandonment of Sprucevale.
Edward Gill was one of the original canal’s laborers. Edward, his wife, and his daughter immigrated from Ireland to find a new, prosperous life in America. However, even before he would make landfall, his wife died and was buried at sea. Trying to make the best of his life and give the best to his daughter, Edward began work on the canal in 1834 and worked day and night to help complete the lock. Edward would run into misfortune once again when his daughter, Gretchen, died from malaria. Throughout her torturous fevers and hallucinations, Gretchen would infamously yell out “I want to join my mother!” Not knowing how to proceed, Edward buried Gretchen’s casket inside the canal’s walls in hopes of returning her body to Ireland one day. Upon the canal and town’s failure, Edward packed up and left with his daughter’s remains to return to Ireland. Once again, disaster struck Edward. Their ship sank en-route to Ireland, killing Edward and sinking Gretchen’s body into the same water where her mother was killed.
Legend states that Gretchen’s spirit can be seen wondering aimlessly crying out “Bury me with my mother,” which was her dying wish. Strange noises can be heard echoing throughout the lock of the canal, now known as Gretchen’s Lock.
In the mill built by the Hambleton brothers, as well as on the bridge leading up to the mill, a strange misty apparition is said to appear. If one ever comes in contact with this spirit, or sees its’ mysterious “hideous face,” they are said to be killed, drained of youth and life. In turn, the apparition will absorb that very life and become beautiful and young again. This apparition is rumored to be that of Esther Hale. Esther was supposed to be married in 1838 but abandoned at the altar. She was heart broken and refused to leave her home. Only 4 months later, she was found dead looking out her window, supposedly she died from undernourishment, but the hopeless romantic will say she died of a broken heart. She now wanders the mill and the bridge awaiting her husband to be for eternity.
Inside the factory, the only other remaining structure in the state park, a young boy was said to have hung himself. Legend says that he was actually murdered and set up to look like a suicide. His father supposedly abused and tortured him, and when the boy threatened to tell the authorities and run away, his father who worked at the factory, hung him from the rafters. His father disappeared leaving his mother an abandoned widow.
It is said that the boy can be heard crying and yelling for help all around the structure. Occasionally, visitors have seen a shadow of a body hanging from an invisible rope. When they investigate the area, no clues can be found to the whereabouts of this strange occurrence. The boy does not like visitors and will chase them away with his loud yells. Sometimes, when photos are taken, the boy can be seen in the background just glaring at the unwanted visitors.