Erie/I-80 Haunts & History

 

The legends, lore, and ghost tales of Cameron, Clarion, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, McKean, Mercer, Venango, & Warren counties. 


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Haunts & History

OAK HILL CEMETERY (Bradford, McKean County) Founded in 1883, the cemetery rests on a mountain slope; its top section has been called the roof of Bradford. Its lower section, unfortunately, has many tipped stones thanks to vandals who party at the graveyard. A dedicated Civil War soldiers' plot was added in 1907, and a special Firemen's plot was added in 1909. Many bodies from the towns’ original and overcrowded Littleton Cemetery (also known as the Old Bradford or Kennedy Street Cemetery) were transferred to Oak Hill beginning in 1885. Groundskeepers have claimed that they’ve seen little girls dressed in old-time dresses playing and running across the cemetery. Items disappear and then show up, hidden behind tombstones. Workers claim that they felt like they were being watched and could feel a sense of presence. The phenomena were reported by Kim Y. in a Pennsylvania Hauntings post.

OAKMONT CEMETERY (Ridgway, Elk County) At 3 AM, the spirits reportedly walk the cemetery grounds. The Shadowlands

OLD WARREN ARMORY (Warren, Warren County) The Armory, once home to Warren's National Guard Company I, was built in 1910. It's been used since 2004 as the Warren Area Student Union, a youth recreation center. It's reportedly haunted by a soldier who was killed at the firing range when a backfired round set off live ammunition, causing an explosion. He's said to be seen in the basement, where the range was located. The Shadowlands

PETROLEUM CENTRE CEMETERY (Oil Creek State Park, Venango County)  Petroleum Centre was a boomtown that quickly turned into a ghost town after the Oil Creek wells ran dry. It's said that you can see a woman in a white dress on the road to the cemetery. She was believed to have hung herself in the nearby woods. Other spirits have also been seen roaming about the old cemetery. The graveyard was visited by the Northwest Pennsylvania Hauntings  team, who found all was at rest there.  We believe there's also the private McClintock Family Cemetery in the Park. The oldest occupants of this graveyard are Francis and Rachel McClintock, who were buried in 1847 and 1848. The Shadowlands

THE PIG PEOPLE (Meadville, Crawford County) If you visit Radio Tower Hill, you may run across the restless spirits of the Pig People roaming the area.  This local urban legend is based on the reported former existence of a leper's hospice on the site, and the distorted malformation of the patient's faces.  Kids can be cruel to the less fortunate. Northwest Pennsylvania Hauntings

PITHOLE CEMETERY (Pithole City Museum, Venango County) Pithole City was the classic boomtown. When Frazier Well on the banks of Pithole Creek pumped out 250 barrels of oil a day in 1865, a city of 15,000 sprang up on farmer Thomas Holmden's land. The wells were emptied quickly, and by 1866 the population was down to 2,000 and shrinking fast. Now it's a ghost town owned by the state and operated as a tourist site.  The small cemetery that remains (the Holmden Family Cemetery, we believe) was investigated by the Northwest Pennsylvania Hauntings team. They think that the spirit of a man watched them while they were probing the graveyard for its' secrets, and have orb pictures of the sighting. The ghost was spotted by one of the member's 4 year old grandson!  He's got a bright future in the spook hunting business.  Northwest Pennsylvania Hauntings

PITTSVILLE (Rockland Twp., Venango County) When you're camping outside of Pittsville, located on the banks of the Allegheny River and a stop on the Allegheny River Bike Trail via the Rockland Tunnels, it's said that you can have some eerie experiences. Allegedly you can hear voices in your pillow, girls and babies crying, things being thrown, and have stuff at your campsite disappear. You can see moving shadows, some even going into your car. The spirits are very protective of their neighborhood. If you want to rile them up, move the rocks around, dam up the creek, or just chop wood. You're know you're in the right spot if you can see some century old, 30 foot tall chimneys standing in the area. The Shadowlands

THE RIVERSIDE INN (Cambridge Springs, Crawford County) Operating since 1885, the Riverside Inn on French Creek is the lone survivor of the 40 or so hotels that once graced Cambridge Springs. The Victorian building houses more than guests. The ghosts of little Rebecca and her family haunt the Inn. Visitors have reported that spirits jump into bed with them. The ballroom sometimes fills with music as specters dance. Doors open and close with no one there. Footsteps and voices can be heard, and sometimes the smell of cigar and pipe smoke waft through the air.  . The old guests must have had a grand time. They never bothered to check out. (Erie Times "Riverside Inn's Haunting Tales," undated)   VisitPA                                     

ST. PATRICK'S CHURCH (Franklin, Venango County) This Liberty Avenue church is one of the older buildings in Franklin. It's said that the first pastor of St. Patrick's is buried in the basement, and haunts a small bathroom by the stairs. Even a clergyman needs some privacy, we guess. He's also been seen walking by the church altar.   He's probably trying to get someone to light a novena candle for him. St. Patrick's Church - Venango Ghosts Blog

ST. PETER'S CATHEDRAL CENTER SCHOOL (Erie, Erie County) The original building of St. Peter's school was opened in 1897 and is still in use today. Lights turn on and off, doors open and close, and banging is reported throughout the building. You can hear faint voices on the fourth floor, and shadows are seen flitting through the school. The Shadowlands
 
SANDY LAKE MILLWORKER'S GHOSTS (Sandy Lake, Mercer County) The furnaces are suppose to be all that remains of an old steel mill that burned down over 50 years ago. It's said that the millworkers who died in various accidents haunt the place. As you go down the hill towards the furnaces, the temperature gets colder until you reach them, and then it gets warmer, almost as if they're still operating. You can reportedly see shadows leaping from tree to tree. It's said the spirits will chase you away at night. We can't find any history of a steel mill in that area, although Sharon Steel on the other side of the county had a big local footprint. The Shadowlands

SMALL'S CEMETERY  (Cooperstown, Venango County) This was supposed to be the site of eerie activities because it's the alleged graveyard of a coven of witches.  The Oil Region Paranormal team visited the site, and found no activity except for the handiwork of recent occult rituals that were being performed there. Take it easy on the old place if you ever stop by.  It's been vandalized and the stones have been broken and abused by the modern day practitioners of the black arts and rowdy ghosthunters. Small's - Oil Region Paranormal

SOUTH BAY BESSIE (Lake Erie) First reported in 1817, this legendary Great Lakes creature is supposed to be gray, snakelike in shape, and 30-40' long. There have been many reported sightings of Bessie all along the Great Lakes system, and she even was blamed for an attack that killed three people in 1992. The survivors claimed its' head was as big as a car.  Then again, it may have been captured: "SANDUSKY, Ohio, July 21, 1931 (AP) - Inside a tightly boarded box beside the lakeshore tonight was locked what several persons said was a large marine animal having specifications that might qualify it as a serpent, claimed to have been captured by two Cincinnati fisherman in Sandusky Bay. The fisherman, Clifford Wilson and Francis Cogenstose of Cincinnati, said that the 'serpent', measuring about twenty feet long and about twelve inches through at the thickest place, arose late today out of the Lake Erie waters beside their boat." Bessie - Wikipedia 

THE SPECTRAL BRAKEMAN (Kane, McKean County) In 1891, brakeman Howard Neusbaum was thrown from a train and died. His spirit is said to appear to other brakies at the Kane yards as a precursory omen of accidents about to happen.  Kane Folklore

THE STORM HAG (Lake Erie) Another lake legend, the early sailors started her tale in the late 1700s. The Storm Hag is a sea witch, pale green with glowing yellow eyes. She strikes just after the calm of a storm, surrounding a ship with lightning and gales before she sucks it under in her vortex. The Hag's ditty goes “Come into the water, love, dance beneath the waves, where dwell the bones of sailor lads inside my saffron cave.” Many people on the shores of Lake Erie claim that they can hear the screams of the men swallowed up in her fury. Erie Legends

STRUTHERS-WETMORE-SCHIMMELFENG HOUSE (Warren, Warren County) The house was completed in 1873 and was a wedding gift from Thomas Struthers to his daughter Anna, who was marrying George Wetmore. It's now the home to the Warren County Historical Society, and serves as museum and archive. It's said that some evenings, you can look at the rightmost window on the top floor and see a lady dressed in white or her shadow looking out.  The Shadowlands

STATE STREET TAVERN (Erie, Erie County) The building that houses the tavern was built in 1887. It's gone through several changes, from the original Osborn Hotel to the Foreman Building, then the Singer Building and currently the State Street Tavern. It was investigated by the Ghost & Hauntings Research Society, who found several spirits in the building and captured some orb pictures. The ghosts included a boy and girl, among others.  Ghost & Hauntings Research Society

TAMARACK SWAMP (Corry, Erie County) This two mile marsh, abutting Erie, Crawford, and Warren counties, is now a part of the Corry Junction Greenway Trail, stretching six miles from Corry to Clymer, NY.  It's said that you can hear the voices of children from the swamp, and if you drive by, their handprints will show on your vehicle.  You're also supposed to be able to hear and see the spirits of former residents of the swamp. It's also the site of alleged UFO sightings, as if a few spooks weren't enough.The Shadowlands

THIEL COLLEGE (Greenville, Mercer County) Roth Hall, built in 1913 and presumably dedicated to early school leaders Henry and Theophilus Roth, is the administrative center of Thiel and home to the Thiel Players, the college acting ensemble.  As with many acting venues, there are many spook sightings in the actor's area, but the origin and tales behind the sightings are unknown.  The Shadowlands

THE THUNDERBIRD (regional) There have been reports of a bird the size of a small airplane seen flying through the skies, a dark gray or black bird with a wingspan of 15' or more. The sightings were reported from Mercer and Erie counties. Several similar reports have come from mostly the western part of the US. They will swoop on children, according to reports, even picking up a child and carrying him a small distance before releasing him. The Thunderbird has a long history in Native American folklore. Strange Ark  (page 24; it's a pdf file)

UBER HOUSE (Grove City, Mercer County) This is now the headquarters of the Grove City Area Historical Society. Before they took it over, the building was known as the Traveler's Hotel, and originally it was the Uber House, built sometime in the late 1890s. Oddly enough, the Uber House was owned and built by Harriet Hughes, befuddling even the Historical Society. They thought there had to be an Uber family member involved with the early property, but none has shown up on the county's deed book. The place was investigated by the Northwest Pennsylvania Hauntings group, and they found some orbs, voices, and a four-year old spook occupying the building, who told the team “I have fun.” Northwest Pennsylvania Hauntings

THE VANISHING HITCHHIKER (Waterford/Edinboro, Erie County) The first report of this legend was in 1925. While driving down Phelps Corners where it meets what is now Route 86 from Edinboro into Waterford, a car's headlights played on a girl dressed in a white wedding gown, looking lost and confused. The driver stopped and asked if he could help. The girl gave an address in Waterford, got in the back seat, and said no more. Small talk didn't help break the girl's silence. As the car neared the address, a fine house in the middle of town, the driver turned around...and the girl was gone. The couple later discovered that the girl was killed some time before in a car accident at Phelps Corners, where it meets Route 86. She allegedly still appears. There have supposedly been no less than two dozen reports of her getting a ride and disappearing. Erie Legends

WATSON-CURTZE MANSION (Erie, Erie County) H.F. Watson and his wife Carrie, along with daughter Winifred, moved into the West Sixth Avenue Millionaires Row home in 1891, designed by famous architect Henry Hobson Richardson in his Romanesque style. Frederick and Caroline Curtze bought the Watson-Curtze Mansion in 1923, and in 1941 donated the house to the Erie School District for use as a library. It's now a museum, operated by the Erie County Historical Society. It's said to be a gently haunted house. The ghosts are sensed rather than seen, first in the ballroom, where the guests and families enjoyed many pleasurable hours, and in the second floor bedroom where one of the girls was nursed back to health after a long and serious illness. The room has become her haven, even in the afterlife. (Both families had daughters. We're not sure which one is referred to, Winifred Watson or Louise Curtze). The boiled bones of Mad Anthony Wayne, stored downstairs, are a moot point now. The famed cauldron that his body was stewed in is currently on exhibit at the Erie County History Center, in the Cashier House on State Street. It was previously shown in the basement of the Watson-Curtze Mansion until a few years ago, according to posts, clanging and banging away on its own volition. The pot is now supposedly on its' best behavior for the History Center show. Beverly P article

GENERAL “MAD” ANTHONY WAYNE'S BONES (Presque Isle, Erie County) The colorful career of Revolutionary and Indian War General “Mad” Anthony Wayne came to end at Fort Presque Isle on December 15, 1796 at the age of 51. He was buried underneath the Erie Blockhouse, at the foot of the flagpole. There his body lay for the next dozen years, until his daughter Margaretta asked her brother Isaac to bring their father's remains to the family cemetery in Radnor. He jumped into a buggy and headed to Erie.  When they opened the coffin, they found Wayne's body had barely decomposed. They couldn't take it home in Wayne's sulky, a light, two-wheeled wagon, so Dr. Wallace and four assistants boiled the meat from the bones of the good general, and Isaac took home his dad's bones for burial at St. David's Cemetery. The flesh, water and instruments used to filet Wayne were reburied at Presque Isle. It's said that Isaac, on the bumpy ride home along what is now Route 322, lost a few bones along the way. Every New Years Day, on his birthday, Mad Anthony Wayne arises from his Radnor grave and travels the road back to Presque Isle in search of his missing bones. What's left of Wayne's Erie grave is on display at the Presque Isle Blockhouse museum, including his coffin lid, some bits of clothing, and Dr. Wallace's tools. The rest either rotted away (burying the water was probably not a stroke of genius) or was destroyed in a 1853 blaze at the blockhouse and a subsequent leveling of the old parade grounds. The kettle is on display at the Erie County History Center.  Besides the Radnor-to-Erie circuit, he's been sighted at Valley Forge, Fort Ticonderoga (along with the spirit of a spurned lover), and Storm King Pass.  Mad Anthony sure got around. American Revolution

THE WHEEZER (Erie, Erie County) The tale goes that a Gannon fraternity held a Halloween costume party in their West Seventh Street house in 1961. One brother noticed a man in a dark cowboy outfit (another version has him dressed like a preacher) and a wide brimmed black hat. Not knowing who the person was, he followed him when he went upstairs. The figure wheeled around, looked at the student, and disappeared into thin air. Later, hearing banging noises from upstairs, several of the brothers went up to investigate. It was the cowboy again. This time he rasped “Get out!” at the men. They told him he was trespassing, and he replied “No, it is you,” and vanished again. His odd voice earned him the nickname of the Wheezer. On Christmas Eve that same year, a sleeping brother was awakened in his second floor bedroom in the house's master suite by the Wheezer. The student leaped from his bed and got some help. When they returned, the ghost was gone. But the balcony doors were wide open, and underneath it, the fresh snow showed no signs of footprints. Years later, a lone brother in the house heard footsteps and loud breathing upstairs. He went to check on who could have come in past him, but no one was there. However, a window that had been stuck for years was now wide open. Then he heard the same sounds from the floor below. Suspicious, he crept silently down the stairs. The breathing came from the master suite. As he got to the door, a voice said “It is you who trespasses.” He threw open the door. The lights were on, but no one was in the room. The fraternity has since moved, but reportedly, the ghost hasn't. The Wheezer is still haunting his old home. He doesn't intend to share his house with anyone.  They're all trespassers to him. Erie Legends   The Shadowlands

WILLOW DALE CEMETERY (Bradford, McKean County) Luke the Spook caused a sensation in 1968 when he was first spotted and people would line up to try and catch a glimpse of the infamous ghost.  Locals say to knock three times on his mausoleum at the very back of the cemetery, almost in the woods.  Luke may appear, or he may play with your car, setting off the horn, locking the doors or killing the engine.  The urban legend was taken from William Robertson’s 2004 book “Lurking In Pennsylvania.”
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