Thieves hit Haunted Tunnel

Published 10:33 am Friday, June 3, 2011

Ironton’s Haunted Tunnel has fallen victim to thieves.

Ironton Lions Club members Lou and Brent Pyles told the police Wednesday someone had broken into the tunnel and had cut all of the wiring and destroyed the scenes that are used.

Some of the wiring had been taken and some had been cut into 12-inch pieces and stored in a trash can. Police and Lions Club members think the culprit or culprits may have intended to come back for it and a chain saw that is used for special effects.

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Lou Pyles estimated that, to replace the wiring alone, the club will have to spend at least $15,000.

“That’s not counting other damage. They broke light bulbs and destroyed scenes. They totally trashed it,” she said. “This is very upsetting to me.”

Lou Pyles said it appeared this was not the work of a one-time visit. The thieves had to have been in the tunnel more than once.

“This is going to take us months to fix,” she said.

The complaint is a familiar one to Ironton Police Detective Capt. Chris Bowman, who believes the thieves wanted the copper in the wiring. Copper and other metals are hot commodities on the resale market.

“We’ve gone through (rashes of theft of) copper, aluminum, batteries and we’ve arrested people, too,” Bowman said.

By trashing the tunnel, the culprit or culprits may have been biting the hand that feeds them, so to speak.

The Ironton Lions Club uses the proceeds from the yearly Haunted Tunnel for a variety of community projects throughout the year, including local scholarships, assistance to other charitable organizations such as Ironton In Bloom and the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade as well as eyesight programs.

The old State Route 75 tunnel used to be a north-south route in and out of town until State Route 93 was completed. It is now a historic site that once a year is transformed into a Halloween destination. People from all over the region come to the tunnel for a frightening tour of scary scenes.