Urban legends have all the allure of traditional storytelling and folklore, with the added bonus that they are situated in your exact time and place. When you hear them, you know they’re probably not true… But that doesn’t keep you from walking a little faster past the cemetery or avoiding the darkest corner of your attic. If you’re in the mood for a chill or you need some fodder to creep out your little sister, you’ve come to the right place.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The Seven Gates of Hell, York
As legend goes, an insane asylum once resided in a wooded area of Hellam Township that burned down one fated night. Though many patients perished in the flames, many also escaped into the surrounding area. releasing its occupants into the surrounding area. Seven gates were built to trap the wandering inmates. The myth states that today, only one gate is visible by day, though all seven are visible by night, and that any person who passes through all seven gates goes directly to Hell. In reality, an insane asylum never existed in the area, and only one gate was built by a local doctor.
2. The Green Man, Pittsburgh
This is one legend that turned out to be true. Residents of the South Park area near Pittsburgh during the 1950's often spotted a strange figure walking along Route 351 at night. The figure was a man without a face who allegedly emitted a greenish glow-- locals were frightened by his shocking appearance and his nocturnal habits. The man, Ray Robinson, had been severely electrocuted as a child and lost most of his facial features. He only came out at night due to his disfigurement, though in reality he did not emit a glow of any sort. He was actually a really nice guy who would chat with anyone who approached him, though this did not prevent some passers-by from treating him cruelly or the community from fostering ghost stories about his misfortune.
3. Blue Myst Road, Pittsburgh
Blue Myst Road is actually named Irwin Road and is located in the North Hills area of Pittsburgh. A variety of urban legends populate the spooky stretch of road that is said to be shrouded in a blue mist by night. Two lovers' headstones in an adjacent cemetery are said to touch under the full moon. An old building foundation is said to be the old home of a witch, and another house is said to be a home populated by little people who will chase visitors. A half-dog, half-deer, half-human is also said to live in the woods and will chase or harm any person who creeps too far into its territory. People who have travelled to Blue Myst Road in the hopes of finding these ghostly entities have mostly only found disgruntled residents.
4. Constitution Drive, Allentown
Yet another haunted road, Constitution Drive is a gravel road in a quiet part of Allentown that has a steep drop-off on one side, and train tracks on the other. It is said that a man was struck by a train one night while walking his dogs, severing his leg and leaving him to perish over the course of a few days on the deserted stretch of road. Since, passers-by have reported seeing paw prints and a single footprint in the snow, left by the ghost of the man and his dogs. Legend also claims that the surrounding woods sometimes emit a soft whistling sound, and that the area is populated by tiny pale-skinned people with red eyes. In reality, a man who lives on the road owns a small pot-bellied pig farm, which probably explains the albino goblin thing.
5. Bus to Nowhere, Philadelphia
Bus to Nowhere might sound like a song you would have listened to during puberty, but really it is mass transportation for Philadelphia's lost and hopeless. It is said that the bus only appears to those left truly distraught and alone by the most tragic circumstances imaginable. If your wife took your retirement savings then ran off to California with Brad Pitt, or your cat ate your children while you were asleep, or something of the like... The Bus to Nowhere would come for you. Passengers on the mystical bus sit, too dazed by misery to interact with or even look at any of the other passengers, and it is only once you temporarily come out of this daze that you will remember to pull the cord and get off. Once you exit, you will have no memory of your time on the bus, though legend states that some have been riding the bus for years... And that some will never leave. Our question is whether Septa is in on this or not.
6. The Devil's Road, Chadds Ford Township
This creepy area just north of the Delaware border is so infused with ghostly tales that M. Night Shymalan filmed his 2004 horror movie, "The Village" in a nearby field. Rumors state that a white house hidden in the woods on Devil's Road, officially named Cossart Road, was home to a wealthy, incestuous family called the DuPonts, who resorted to inbreeding in order to keep their fortune within the family. "The Cult House" was used as a place to perform incestuous marriages and as a place to hide deformed offspring. The trees in the area are dramatically bent away from the house, as if they are trying to escape. Piles of animal corpses have been discovered in the area by visitors. Much of the strange activity around Devil's Road can be chalked up to teenage pranksters, such as a fishing line that was strung across the road at neck height.
7. Wildwood Cemetery, Williamsport
Wildwood Cemetery has two sides-- a good side and a bad side. On a clear night, legend says that you can see fairies on the good side, while the bad side is populated by ghoulish creatures including a shrieking banshee and many individual tombs from which you can hear voices and banging sounds. There is a statue who cries and changes position by night that can be seen from the roadside. It is said that a retired fireman who was terrified of being buried alive designed a large mausoleum here for himself and his family that could be opened from the inside, but not the outside. At night, they are said to come out and play.
8. The Goblin of Easton
Folklore states that a greedy monk who worked at a mission in Easton, Pennsylvania made a fortune from blackmailing wealthy people who confessed their sins to him. He grew increasingly forceful with this coercion until finally he was hanged for beating a frail, elderly woman to death. The mission was not rid of the evil monk so easily, however; his body sprung to life and transformed into a monstrous ghoul before the crowd. He disappeared into the nearby forest and returned only to feast upon the remaining monks at his old mission. Soon, the other monks fled and left the building to crumble.
9. The Storm Hag, Erie
Though Pennsylvania is land-locked, we do have access to Lake Erie, a member of the Great Lakes which are notorious for their violent, unpredictable storms. Presque Isle is an area of the lake notable for the large number of shipwrecks and disappearances that have occurred there-- this is where the Storm Hag is said to live on the bottom of the lake, emerging only to feast upon unfortunate sailors. She has venemous nails, strong, wraith-like arms, green pointed teeth, slimy green skin, and cat-like eyes that are the last thing her victims ever see. Like a siren, she sings an enticing song immediately before attack.
10. The House on Ridge Avenue, Pittsburgh
The House on Ridge Avenue, or the Congelier House, was for a long time considered to be the most haunted house in America. In fact, Thomas Edison once visited when he was experimenting with seance. What happened to inspire such ghost tales, you ask? The original owner of the house, Charles Congelier was discovered having an affair with the maid by his wife, who murdered the duplicitous couple. A few days later, a neighbor discovered Mrs. Congelier muttering at the maid's decapitated head, which she had cradled in her lap while she sat in her rocking chair. As if that incident wasn't enough, the next owner of the house was a reclusive doctor who, it was discovered, had a collection of women's heads in the basement that he was using for experimentation. After the crazy doctor, the house was converted into housing for immigrant workers who moved once they began mysteriously dieing one by one. Eventually, the house exploded, leaving only a crater in its path-- locals insisted that it had been transported back to Hell, where it came from. To the disappointment of paranormal enthusiasts, however, most of the gristly tales surrounding the house have been debunked by historical evidence.
These aren’t the only urban legends told in Pennsylvania– in fact there are scary tales from all over the states. Do any rumors keep you up at night?