Whisper a secret and pass it on. How many of us played that game during childhood? Somewhere down the line, the story evolved – details were embellished or deleted – to appear little like the original secret. That’s often how urban legends start and, because of that murky start, some urban legends can simply never be verified. But, whether they’re true or not, urban legends generally tend to be quite memorable. Here are five Pittsburgh urban legends you’ll never forget.
1. Dead Man's Hollow
Now a peaceful refuge along the Youghiogheny River in McKeesport, Dead Man's Hollow started with a tragedy in the mid-1870s. A decomposing body hung from a tree. No one knew to whom the body belonged. Decomposition was far too advanced. Local lure claimed it was a woman, a victim of the Ku Klux Klan, or a Native American. The identity never determined, urban legend tells that the victim's death led to naming the area Dead Man's Hollow, whose history has been plagued with murder and natural disaster, including an infamous streetcar robbery in 1908.
2. Blue Mist/Myst Road
As the sun goes down each evening on Blue Mist Road – officially Irwin Road – in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, a blue mist descends upon the area. Why that Blue Mist appears depends on what urban legend you believe. Along the road lies a cemetery in which two headstones lean toward each other but do not touch. Buried beneath those headstones are lovers who never shared a first kiss and, the urban legend goes, the headstones lead toward each other in an attempt to steal that forbidden kiss. If they succeed, civilization would end. Another popular urban legend is that of a strange creature – part dog, part human – that haunts the road, taunting visitors who dare travel near it.
3. The Green Man Tunnel
A tunnel in South Park Township whispers of a tragic tale, told again and again until it became almost unrecognizable as an urban legend. A young boy named Raymond Robinson suffered a life-altering accident near the Piney Fork Tunnel when he fell down a bridge, his face and body slamming into live electric wires. Eight-year-old Raymond lost his eyes, his nose, an ear, and an arm. The nice little boy grew up into an introverted yet friendly man who only went out at night so as not to frighten the locals. That's where the urban legend comes in. Locals tell of a figure illuminated green walking in the Piney Fork Tunnel at night. If drivers stopped in the middle of the tunnel, now known as Green Man Tunnel, No Face Charlie (Raymond) would appear, touch the car, and a spark of electricity would go off, causing the vehicle to stall. Raymond lived a long life, passing away when he was in his 70s but his name lives on in an urban legend. (Please note that this is just an urban legend and Mr. Robinson has been described as a kind and loving individual. Some friends remain upset that Mr. Robinson is part of this urban legend.)
4. 13 Bends
Death plays a prominent role in the urban legend that haunts Coulterville Cemetery in McKeesport. An orphanage once stood where the cemetery now lies. But, in the 1800s, fire ravaged that orphanage, killing the children inside. Those who visit the cemetery at night, so goes local lure, tell of hearing the voices of children crying for help inside the orphanage as it burns to the ground. When driving away, drivers claim to have seen fire in their rear view mirror and tiny handprints on their car windows. Now here's where the urban legend comes in. One road leads into and out of Coulterville Cemetery. Driving into the cemetery, count the bends. Thirteen. Drive out and do the same. Twelve bends. How does a bend go missing in one direction? Simple, according to urban legend. Those orphans who died in the fire just decided to have some fun, making it appear as though a bend is missing in one direction.
5. Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper from...Pittsburgh? Well, that's just one urban legend floating around the Pittsburgh area, given credibility by Pittsburgh handwriting expert Michelle Dresbold. The infamous serial killer, who hunted London's streets in the late 1880s, had handwriting that matched that of New Yorker turned Pittsburgher Francis Tumblety, an herb doctor widely recognized as, well, a fake. Dresbold claimed that the handwriting samples proved Tumblety was, indeed, Jack the Ripper. Tumblety just happened to be in London during Jack the Ripper's reign of terror. Is a one-time Pittsburgher really Jack the Ripper? Depends on what urban legend you believe.
These five Pittsburgh urban legends just might send chills slithering down your spine. Keep that feeling going by visiting these
10 creepy cemeteries in Pittsburgh that will give you goosebumps.