NAMI, the American Mental Health Association in Athens, Ohio, got involved with other organizations in a major effort to restore, beautify and demystify three mental health graveyards located on the grounds of the old psychiatric hospital complex on the Ridges. Prior to the onset of the project, these cemeteries were in a poor state of repair, with many gravestones abandoned to brush and woods and hundreds of stones uprooted and broken.
In the fall of 2000, Fox Family Radio Channel featured ‘The Ghosts of Athens,’ notably those in its Ridges cemeteries as the ‘World’s Scariest Place.’ In order to combat this nonsense and restore respect to the nearly 2000 former psychiatric patients buried in these three cemeteries, the Ridges Cemeteries Committee made up of people from the Ohio University, The Gathering Place, the Civilian Conservation Corps and NAMI, was created.
Their aim was to restore the cemeteries and to build a 1.3 mile Nature Walk among them. In addition, a bill was passed making public the names of all persons who had been buried with numbered stones only. As part of the walk, an old pond was rebuilt. The purpose of the Walk is to shine light, metaphorically speaking on these beautiful grounds with their remarkably abundant wildlife and to make them a place of healthy, respectful recreation.
Written by Tom Walker,
Chair of Ridges Cemeteries Committee.
The Ridges Cemetery Project by Dr. Thomas Walker
I would like to thank Dr. Thomas Walker for providing me with the above information.