Behind the USS Nightmare

Alex MacNeil

A. MacNeil

There’s something about the USS Nightmare that makes it stand out from other haunted attractions in the Cincinnati area. Sitting on the Ohio River on the Newport, Kentucky side, it brings in anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 visitors a year. Could it be because the vessel is believed to actually be haunted?

According to Allen Rizzo, general manager of the USS Nightmare, the ship was built in 1934 and was named after its captain William S. Mitchell. Its purpose was to remove sediment from the bottom of the river, also called “dredging”. Some believed an ancient burial ground was disturbed during the vessel’s operation forever cursing the boat. In 1993 the vessel would reach an unsettling fate. The William S. Mitchell broke away from its reins and was sent down the river recklessly. The vessel slammed into a bridge causing great damage to it before it was finally stopped. 

60 crew members were killed as well as the captain and his daughter Anna. This event would be known as the Mitchell Massacre from then on.

After the massacre, the vessel was taken in the condition it was last, and turned into the haunted attraction the USS Nightmare. It has been an attraction since 1998 and has brought in visitors from all over with its authenticity.

Today, many of the crew have had their own paranormal experiences. Those include hearing unexplained footsteps while on board, and feeling like you’re being watched.

The ship features areas including a freezer, clown area, an infirmary, a kitchen, and a claustrophobic area. The ship also uses special effects including strobe lights, artificial fog, and chainsaws to make the experience as terrifying and unpredictable as possible.

The USS Nightmare is open through October 31st for anyone willing to board the ship. For more information and history about the ship go to http://ussnightmare.com/ .

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