Everyone likes a weird story. The unexplained triggers our inner child, our sense of wonder. Especially when strange things happen in familiar places, we can’t resist dedicating time and thought to pondering possible explanations… Whether the oddity stems from human psychology, mother nature, or a seemingly supernatural phenomena; here are some of the weirdest things that have occurred in the state of Pennsylvania.
1. A famous Norwegian violinist tried to establish a New Norway in 1852 at the site of what is now Ole Bull State Park.
Ole Borneman Bull bought 120,000 acres of land in Northern PA in what is now Potter County, for $10,000. His colony was split into four smaller communities, and he had even begun work on a castle when the project was abandoned less than a year later due to inexperience with the terrain. The Norwegian settlement migrated into the midwest instead. Today, the violinist is commemorated by a statue that stands in Ole Bull State Park.
2. Napoleon's old armchair sits in a Pennsylvania mansion and anyone who sits in it notoriously dies on the spot.
Baleroy Mansion, built in 1911, stands in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. It's known as one of the most haunted houses in the country, but perhaps the spookiest thing there is an old chair that's rumored to have belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte. Four people who sat in the chair died immediately, forcing the house's owner (now deceased) to ban anyone from sitting in the chair of death.
3. In 2012, a man walked into an Exton Walmart and stole a pair of socks... Completely naked.
He was arrested for theft and public indecency. Police officers had to use a stun gun to subdue the man, as he was 6'4" and 300 pounds.
4. Philadelphia was one of the first locations that the mysterious Toynbee tiles were noticed, and has become central to the phenomenon.
Since the 1980s, mysterious tiles have appeared on streets across North and South America. They usually say "TOYNBEE IDEA
IN MOViE `2001
ON PLANET JUPITER," or some close variation. More tiles appear on Philadelphia streets than anywhere else, and some tiles located in other places refer to a street address found in Philadelphia.
5. On New Years Eve, the town of Lebanon celebrates by dropping a 150 pound of bologna.
Some places drop a traditional new years ball, but Lebanon, the town famous for its meat, drops a huge bologna. After the celebration, it's donated to a local rescue mission.
6. In 1902, a massive storm front caused mud to rain down across the state.
Rain dust, a phenomenon that causes mud to rain from the sky due to a high presence of dust in the air, is common in the Mediterranean basin, but is almost unheard of in our neck of the woods. However, one day in 1902, a dust storm in Illinois caused dust to get caught up in a 40-mile wide storm front that covered the entire tri-state region in a layer of mud.
7. A mysterious handprint, that of an executed coal miner, has persistently remained on a cell wall in the Carbon County Jail since the late 1800s.
He was a member of the Molly Maguires, an Irish and Welsh secret society that was persecuted for inciting revolution among workers.
8. A secret military experiment, known as the Philadelphia Experiment, is rumored to have occurred in the Philadelphia shipyard in 1943.
It has been the subject of movies, books, and endless speculation, and has been dismissed by many as a hoax. Rumor states that the US Navy destroyer escort, USS Eldridge, was the subject of a scientific cloaking experiment that made the entire ship invisible.
9. In 1957, the body of a young boy was found in Philadelphia, and authorities have never been able to identify him.
Nicknamed "Boy in the Box" because he was found in a cardboard box, the body of a seven year old boy was found, battered and bruised, in the Fox Chase section of Philadelphia. He bore recent scars from minor surgeries, but inquiries to all doctors in the region yielded no clues as to the boy's name. His grave is marked with a tombstone that reads "America's Unknown Child".
10. Your car will roll uphill on this ordinary-looking road in Bedford County.
It's a phenomenon documented in few other places in the world. No one is quite sure what makes gravity work backwards here, but visitors often come to experience the weirdness for themselves.
What are some of the weirdest Pennsylvania tales that you know? Share in the comments below!