Creepy Cleveland has gone through many changes since it’s inception in early 1999.
Back then, I wanted to change my old web page into something that would attract some traffic. My old page was a link-fest to all the gross picture, tasteless humor and spooky story sites I could find. I called it ‘Links to the Fringe of Sanity’. It was horrible. I had virtually no original content. Only links to other sites. Nobody visited but my friends, and even they didn’t stay because not everybody shared my twisted sense of humor. I was proud that I was able to put together a web page and get it on the internet, but it was obvious that ‘Links…’ was going nowhere fast.
The idea for Creepy Cleveland came about when I was sick of trying to describe to friends of mine local ghost stories that I’d heard while growing up. Legends like the Witches Ball and the stories of the Melon Heads. I figured there must be some information on the internet – but alas, the little info I could find wasn’t very satisfying. It was easy to find stories and links to the big Cleveland haunts. (i.e. Franklin Castle, Gore Orphanage, Drury Mansion…etc.) But I wanted to find someplace to talk about the relatively unknown stuff. I knew somebody out there knew of Boston Township and South Bay Bessie. Certainly, somewhere, somebody else had been spooked on Hemlock Road. There were good stories out there waiting to be told!
I started to put together a page that would include some of the stories I had heard, as well as links to the quality sites I had found on some other Cleveland / Northern Ohio haunted stories. I immediately remembered Cleveland.com’s Halloween page. Cleveland.com excels at Halloween events, seasonal recipes, haunted house reviews and anything you would want to know about a Cleveland Halloween. But as for ghost stories? There’s only a few, and they’re the same every year. I needed more. I didn’t have much, but I was ready to put it up there for the world to see. Not only that, but I figured that if somebody recognized one of the lesser-known stories, maybe they’d write in and tell me about an experience they had. I was hoping for any kind of response.
Then one day, I got email! Someone had heard of the legend of Boston Township! They wrote and told me what they once did years ago and the legend they had heard. My first contribution!! I quickly posted it on my page. A week or so later, I got an email from somebody who found the site on USENET (I’ve done virtually no advertising for the site – I can’t afford to pay for it – so I post on USENET once every few months and hope for the best). He used to live in Cleveland, and reading through my site made him nostalgic for the old days. He told me a story of a place that I’ve never heard of! Wow!! Another contribution and it was totally original! Running Creepy Cleveland was promising to be fun.
By this time, I figured it would make sense to get back out there and see some old haunts and find some new ones. So I spent a couple of months worth of weekends dragging my wife and daughter all over Cleveland, visiting the places I knew of and looking for the places I didn’t. Saw a bunch of cemeteries, a couple castles, a factory and an abandoned house…but no ghosts (*sigh*) took a few pictures anyway (god, I need a digital camera…) and heard a few new stories from people who happened to be sightseeing as well.
Fast-forward to Summer of 2001. While still not getting much exposure, I was happy getting the occasional email and hunting down new haunted info (both on the internet and in real-life). Then one day, a friend at work mentioned that he’d sent my link into the Plain Dealer Newspaper and nominated it as a “Cool Site of the Week”. I had been selected for the week of July 16!!
Even though Creepy Cleveland was described as “dull to look at…” – bad press was better than no press. I started getting more and more email.
Come October 2001, I was contacted by a reporter for the Plain Dealer and asked my viewpoint on the “Hell Town” legend. It seems a certain other website was doing an in-depth investigation on Boston Township, and Creepy Cleveland was brought up as a site that housed some rumors. Another article followed – entitled Does Hell Town Really Deserve Its Name?. Too bad they gave the wrong address for Creepy Cleveland (they gave it as www.erielink.com – Yeah, that was my internet provider’s main page, not my page – I could imagine people clicking on that address and thinking “What the Hell?”) So who knows how much traffic I lost because of that. Hopefully, when you couldn’t find Creepy Cleveland – you searched for it on Google and found the right address.
Summer of 2002 found me upgrading my internet connection to Ameritech’s DSL. Unfortunately, Ameritech only offered 2 megs worth of free webspace. Creepy Cleveland was in danger of going under.
Fortunately for me, a regular visitor offered to host me on his server until I could figure out something more permanent. I need to publicly thank Mark Budnick for his help and kindness – and for seeing me through my ‘dark months’! It was during this time that I resurrected my redirect URL http://go.to/creepycleveland, and pointed it to the new address. I made mention of that fact numerous times on the site, and I hope there weren’t many people who got lost in the shuffle.
In mid-October 2002, while looking for a new host (and keeping with the fact that I really can’t afford to pay for hosting – Ameritech’s charging me $29.95 per month, after all) I found a new host – Neopages. They’re unique in the fact that they offer free hosting, with a catch. You must have an established page already and be willing to put your page up for a vote by the current members. They stress originality and style. They also frown on things like file hosting (mp3′s, warez…etc). Well…I figured I’d give it a shot and entered an application. After getting beat up by some critiques, I figured I didn’t have a chance. Then – lo and behold – I got accepted!!
So… Creepy Cleveland was alive again!! And with a bunch of changes (as recommended by some of the reviews I got). The new address was http://creepycleveland.neopages.net, but I kept the ‘go.to/creepycleveland’ address pointing to it as well.
Unfortunately, life with neopages wasn’t to last longer than a year or so. The community within Neopages bred some contempt from hackers, and the entire host got hacked. Many pages were lost and had to be restored from backup. A couple of months later, the server the site was hosted on got hosed. Bad luck? Indeed. Creepy Cleveland was once again in limbo. Around spring/summer of 2005 I started having a hard time keeping Creepy Cleveland updated and interesting. After the unexpected downtime from neopages I lost too many visitors and traffic to the site ground to a halt. After thinking it over for a long time, I made the decision to shut it down. I posted a message to the few people that managed to keep track of the site address, zipped up the files and closed the door.
A few months later, I got an email from a fan asking if I’d like for him to host the site. Halloween 2005 was coming up, and I had received a few emails from people asking if I was ever going to come back. Hmmm…. Somebody else host Creepy Cleveland? Again? After thinking it over, I thought the site would do more good online than rotting on my backup hard drive. Billy Meade took over hosting and kept the page available for a year. Billy rules too.
The latest and (hopefully) the greatest incarnation of Creepy Cleveland, born on Halloween 2006, lives at creepycleveland.net. I’ve turned the stories (which were by far the most popular part of the site) over to a blog format. I’m hoping it will make questions and comments on the stories easier to make, answer and follow. The backed up version of the old site is getting a slow makeover in the hopes of becoming and back-end host to all the old content, new investigations, and file storage.
In the Fall of 2011 I moved the site back to Blogger and took advantage of Google’s suite of applications to help collect and share audio, video, pictures and articles.
So there you have it. With virtually no advertising, I’ve managed to put together an interesting hobby for myself and a place that I can finally talk about all those cool, spooky stories I’d heard while growing up. I’m always redesigning the page and trying to keep up with the newest browsers, and I’ve made a bunch of mistakes. But all in all it’s been great doing it and I hope to be doing it for as long as I can!
I’d like to take this time to thank each and every person who has ever e-mailed Creepy Cleveland. Whether it was a story or a question or a comment or a critique. I’ve read them all and tried my best to implement your ideas and stories. I’d like to thank all the web page designers out there who have unwittingly supplied me with ideas and graphics for Creepy Cleveland. And last but certainly not least, I want to thank my wife and my daughter (that’s my daughter on the outdated flash intro saying “they’re heeeere!” by the way) for their patience and understanding waiting for me while I do “just one more thing” to the web page that inevitably takes the rest of the night to complete.
The archived history of Creepy Cleveland
Until I get anything missing from the old blogger site, you can always find it here
Here are links to the internet archives of the many variations of Creepy Cleveland over the years