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The Rolling Stone of Marion Cemetery

There are many sites within Marion Cemetery that make it a popular tourist destination. Even from outside the cemetery gates, one can clearly see the breathtaking Marion County World War II Memorial, which was officially opened during a Memorial Day ceremony in 2001. The memorial, comprised of 8-foot high walls with a 13-foot centerpiece, is one of the largest in the US and features the names of the almost 6000 Marion County residents who lost their life in WW II.

There are also quite a few notables buried here, including playwright Saxon Kling, as well as several figures from Warren G. Harding's short-lived term as the 39th President of the United States. Charles Sawyer, who served as Harding's personal physician, is buried here, as is Carrie Phillips, who was involved in a scandalous love affair with Harding. Harding himself was briefly interred at Marion Cemetery before being moved to his final resting place nearby, the Harding Memorial, with his wife in the 1920s.

But the #1 tourist attraction isn't any of those listed above. Rather, it's a giant stone sphere that just won't stay still.

In 1896, members of the Charles B. Merchant family decided to spruce up their family plot in Marion Cemetery and make it more of a focal point. A series of small black granite spheres were arranged in a large circle to mark the family plot. In the center of this circle the family erected a 5-foot tall granite monument engraved with the family name. On top of this monument was placed an enormous 5200 lb. black granite sphere, which was polished once it was in place. All in all, the Merchant family plot was a stunning site and it quickly became a popular attraction in the cemetery. But it wasn't until a few years later that people began to notice that there was something weird going on with that giant sphere.

As hard as it was to believe, the two and a half ton sphere appeared to be moving. The movement wasn't visible to the naked eye, but there was no denying that it was moving. All one had to do was look at the sphere and they could see that the unpolished portion of the orb, the part that was originally in contact with the base of the monument, was now fully visible. What's more, there were no other markings on the sphere to suggest how it had been moved. It was as if it had been gently lifted from its base and turned ever so slightly. But that was impossible.  Or was it?

Concerned, the Merchant family hired workers who used a crane to lift the sphere and return it to its original position on the base of the monument. That seemed to do the trick…for a while.

But as the years rolled on, it wasn't long before the unpolished portion of the sphere began poking out once more. Several other attempts were made to reset the sphere, but all efforts proved fruitless. But that was fine for the curiosity seekers, who began flocking to the cemetery in droves to catch a glimpse of the mysterious revolving ball. Of course, many were disappointed when their visions of a wildly spinning ball were dashed at the sight of a virtually motionless sphere, but it did still attract the attention of Ripley's Believe it or Not, who featured the monument in 1929.

As more and more people visited Marion Cemetery, the number of explanations for the sphere's movement also increased. Everyone seemed to have their own theory, which ranged from gravitational pull to more bizarre tales of the monument being cursed or even possessed. Whatever the reason, the sphere continues to move even today, creeping along at an average of 2 inches a year. In fact, the unpolished portion is now fully exposed and is slowly making its way towards the top of the sphere. And it's not uncommon to encounter people in the cemetery taking measurements and scrawling down numbers in a notebook as they track the stone's progress. So it seems that even though it wasn't the way they had intended it, the Merchants got their wish; their family plot has become a focal point of the area.

Weird Ohio

 

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