An Encounter at the Toledo Yacht Club

Photo Credit: Christopher Tillman

Founded in 1865 under the name, the Toledo Boat Club, the historic Toledo Yacht Club is one of the few remaining clubs of its age still in operation in the United States. Located in Bay View Park, on the western edge of Lake Erie, the Toledo Yacht Club is more than just a private escape for boating enthusiasts. It’s also home to some of this area’s most fascinating legends and ghost stories.

The stories surrounding the Toledo Yacht Club have been whispered among paranormal aficionados for years, some say decades, but it wasn’t until just recently, back in 2016, that the Club became a ‘must-see’ destination for ghost hunters around the state.

During the 11th season of SyFy Channel’s ground-breaking reality TV show, “Ghost Hunters,” the supernatural stories of the Toledo Yacht Club found an international audience. Central to the episode was the claims made by an 11-year-old boy, named Hunter, who also happens to be the son of the Yacht Club’s events manager. Hunter says he came in contact with the lonely spirit of a boy named Jacob.

Jacob is – was – a 10-year-old boy who met a tragic end inside the Club back in 1910. As the story goes, Jacob is said to have lost his balance while leaning over the balcony railing inside the Club’s ballroom. The head trauma he suffered after impacting the hardwood floor of the ballroom is what lead to his death, and the popular belief is that he died instantly. Now, it is said, Jacob, along with his distraught parents, continue to roam the halls of the Toledo Yacht Club.

It should be noted that, as of this writing, no records have been uncovered that would corroborate the accidental death of a child in 1910. In fact, records have yet to be uncovered that would suggest there have been any deaths inside the Yacht Club. Despite the lack of concrete evidence that Jacob even existed, that hasn’t stopped ghost hunters from around Ohio and Michigan from flocking to the Toledo Yacht Club in hopes of making contact with the young spirit. It’s even become a tradition to leave toys for Jacob in the Club’s attic where it’s said he spends a great deal of time.

Ryan, a former employee of the Toledo Yacht Club, wrote in to tell me about his experiences in this famously haunted building. He worked there in 2003 and made specific mention of the uneasy feelings he often felt in and near the kitchen, especially the stairs out of the kitchen by the walk-in cooler.

I just always had an uneasy feeling walking up or down them,” he writes.

But it was a particularly slow day at work that he remembers the most. He says,

I was in the room right off the kitchen. You can walk into the lobby-like area or into the Maumee room through heavy wooden doors. So I had my back to the kitchen and was reading some material on the wall, and the two doors were on my right. I heard something and, as I turned, I saw something walking through the door going into the lobby. All I saw was, like, a leg but I walked to the door and the door was still moving like someone went through it. So, I walked into the lobby and no one was there.

Unnerved by what he witnessed, he knew the only other person in the building should have been the bartender downstairs. He continues, “I walked downstairs and asked her if anyone had come downstairs. She said, ‘No.’

Already familiar with the supernatural stories about the building and recognizing the puzzled look on Ryan’s face, she knew he had met one of the building’s ghosts. Not knowing what else to do, Ryan returned to work and tried to forget what he had witnessed.

Many people, employees, visitors, and club members alike, have reported strange occurrences over the years. The stories of Jacob, the Lady in Yellow (some say White), and the distinguished gentleman who has been seen lurking the building, all these stories and more continue to capture the imaginations of those who wish to explore the Other Side at the haunted Toledo Yacht Club.

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