The former TV anchor and reporter is enjoying a second act as a travel writer and expert on Columbus oddities and quirky history.

When it comes to the secrets of Columbus, Anietra Hamper wrote the book: “Secret Columbus: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure.” Hamper is a Columbus native, a former local television reporter and anchor, and a collector of the city’s secrets. If you promise not to tell, here’s what she’s learned about the secrets of Columbus… 

“My criteria [for the book] was it had to be more than a great story,” Hamper says. “I had to verify it … There had to be some sort of historical element, it had to be fascinating and you had to be able to do something with it, see or visit it. None [of these secrets] will change your life, but they’re a reason to laugh or go ‘Oh my gosh’ and get more engaged in the city where you live.”

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Some of her favorite secrets include: the world’s first junior high school (Indianola Junior High); the world’s first suburban strip mall (the Town & Country Shopping Center on East Broad); and the story behind the Franklin County Sanitary Landfill on London-Groveport Road.

“That was one of my most exciting finds,” says Hamper, who can make a landfill sound a bit exciting. “I found it while digging through some old public utility documents.” She found that back in the 1940s, the city shipped its garbage off to pig farms. After the pigs began to get sick with trichinosis from their daily diet of disgusting waste, “the city sold bonds and used the money to create a landfill.”

And then there’s the bridge to nowhere, a long-abandoned bridge for which connector roads were never built. “Everyone has driven under it but has no idea,” Hamper says of the bridge over I-70. You can see the weeds growing through the cracks in the concrete from the northwest edge of the Scioto Audubon Metro Park through a chain-link fence.

There’s one secret that Hamper still can’t quite verify: the existence of a rumored underground tunnel from the Southern Theatre to the Statehouse. “I’ve spent hours trying to verify it, but haven’t been able to,” she says. Hamper’s theory is that “back in the 1800s, this was a secret passageway for the politicians to have their call girls go back and forth.”

Discover more Central Ohio secrets, mysteries and underappreciated gems in the “Hidden Columbus” cover feature in our October issue, which is on newsstands now.

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