Three Rivers Haunts & History 

The legends, lore, and ghost tales of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington & Westmoreland counties. 


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MADONNA CEMETERY (New Castle, Lawrence County) There's allegedly a tombstone in the cemetery with a picture of a man, and it has one white and one black hand on it. If you find this stone on All Hallows Eve, cover it with a white sheet and knock on it 3 times at midnight, the spirit will appear behind you. Seems like a lot of work to raise one ghost, but hey, if you're bored on Halloween... The Shadowlands

JOE MAGARAC (Braddock, Allegheny County) A mythical eastern European steelworking legend from Braddock, Joe's mighty feats probably weren't the stuff of folklore, but more likely of fakelore. While the Joe Magarac saga may have existed in some earlier form, he was popularized by magazine writers in the 1930's. His character fit right in with US Steel's agenda as a good natured soul that did nothing but work and eat. One of his more popular tales tells of when he won a contest of strength, the award being the hand of the fair Mary. The girl was the beloved of his best bud, Pete.  Rather than snatch her from her intended, he claimed his prize and then gave her away to Pete, claiming he didn't have time for a wife.  Joe's story ends one of two ways, depending on the story teller.  One has him sitting in a vat of molten steel, melting into it to insure it would be the world's best cast.  He wanted it to be used to build a new mill.  The other version has him still marking time in an idle, dusty steel mill in Steel Valley, waiting for the industry to return to its' former glory.  His legend took off in the Mon Valley, and his story may be the only tale to ever make the transition from fakelore to folklore. Tall Tales

MAIN STREET ANTIQUES (Monongahela, Washington County) An ephemeral figure of a young girl dressed in a pinafore has been reportedly seen beckoning customers down the shop's back stairwell. Doors have also opened on the own. (Pittsburgh Post Gazette “Ghosts of Monongahela Candlelight Walk Features 13 Scary Places”, October 8, 2006)

MARCY STATE HOSPITAL (East Liberty, Pittsburgh) Marcy was originally opened as the Pittsburgh City Tuberculosis Sanatorium (the "Haven of Rest") in 1915, eventually becoming the C. Howard Marcy State Hospital, or Leech Farm Hospital, in 1957 when the state took it over. It became a mental institution in 1974 before closing in 1984. Over 2,000 patients died while it was a TB hospital, with reports of patient abuse, outdated medical practices, and suicides. Not too surprisingly, there are quite a few bad vibes & stories allegedly associated with the place. The shadowy ghosts of former patients are sighted quite often on the grounds, with some that vanish or walk through walls. Other sightings include a man standing at the third floor window of the hospital, looking out; shadows seen going from window to window, as if they're walking through the building's interior walls; and another figure seen in the bathroom, with the black edema of tuberculosis visible on his body. In another hospital wing, crying, screaming, voices and laughter can be heard, mists can be seen floating in the shower area, and some poltergeist type activity occurs according to reports. There's also the tale of a small child in a hospital gown there, bouncing a red rubber ball. She asks for her mother, and if you don't answer, she'll bounce her ball off your door for the next several evenings. The Farm House, which was home for the hospital's head administrators, features flashes of light emanating from within, with sightings of a former administrator on the front porch and through the windows (which have since been boarded up). This man was alleged to have killed his family before taking his own life, perhaps suspecting that he & the family had contracted the dreaded disease. The facility names are mixed up a bit in The Shadowlands report, although they're all on Leech Farm Road/Highland Drive. C. Howard Marcy State Hospital took over the reins from the Pittsburgh City Tuberculosis Sanatorium, and The Shadowland dates are right for those institutions. We think the nearby facility isn't the Job Corps, but Shuman Juvenile Detention Center, although they're both on Highland Drive. Leech Farm, which is the name of the area, still exists there as a branch of the Veteran's Administration Health System, dealing with psychiatric and POW-related health conditions & serving as administrative offices. The Shadowlands

MARIANNA CEMETERY (Washington County) The cemetery is allegedly haunted by a woman in a white dress. The woman floats through the field beside the cemetery, and then sits on its' fence with a black cat. Hmmmm, maybe she's a white witch.  The only cemetery we could find in Marianna is St. Mary's, though we're not certain that it's the one. Marianna - Parainvestigator

MCCANDLESS TOWN HALL (Wexford, Allegheny County) The building was reportedly erected on farmland where a young boy had drowned in the early 1900s after falling into a well. Township police and dispatchers have reported hearing footsteps in the stairwell, the sound of creaking doors being opened, lights going on and off, and whispering voices. Others have allegedly seen the face of a young child looking out of the second floor widow late at night, when the building is locked. Spirits Of The Mist

MCCASKEY FARM (Cannelton, Beaver County) The McCaskey's settled in Cannelton, now a ghost town, in 1793. Barbara McCaskey had two suitors for her hand – there weren't very many young attractive maidens in those parts back in the day - and the rivalry for her charms became bitter. One night, she disappeared from her bed, and later her body was discovered in the woods, headless. Her head (and for that matter, her killer) were never found, and she was buried. Exactly one year after her death, a wagon approached the McCaskey cabin and the driver saw a headless apparition of a woman float past him and alight on the back of one of his horses. It eventually disappeared in a flash of light. People avoided the lane religiously afterwards, and it was said that whenever a horse had to travel on it, the animal would toss its' head and side step carefully along the road, as if it were spooked. Barbara's spirited reputation stuck with the family. When her sister died, her husband had a huge, elaborate stone placed over her grave to keep her spirit from escaping and coming back as a ghost, as Barbara had done after her death. We wonder what – or who - killed her that made him so worried about her return?  Ghastly Graveyard Gambols...

MCCONNELL'S MILL STATE PARK (Lawrence County)  The 2,546 acres of McConnell's Mill State Park are claimed to be one of Pennsylvania's more heavily haunted areas. It's home to sheer cliffs and the swiftly flowing Slippery Rock Creek, and many outdoor enthusiasts have lost their lives rappelling or riding the white water. And if sudden death isn't enough to ramp up some bad juju, there are also some long time spirits associated with the park. One is a worker who was killed when the machinery at McConnell's Mill (a grist mill that was in operation from 1852-1928) acted up. He still walks the same path to and from work as he did when he was alive, more or less a century ago. It's claimed that if you get there at the right time, you can see him walk along the path with his lunch bucket, go into the mill, turn the lights on, and then scream as he relives that fateful day. There's also the tale of caretaker Moses Whorton, who died at the turn of the century and still patrols MM, chasing poorly-behaving visitors away from the parkland he loved and protected during his life. A freed slave, he lived in the park in a cottage by the mill, back when Thomas McConnell still owned the land. He stayed there for three decades, beginning in 1880, and it was the only home he knew since he was 20. It's said that if he's needed, a honk of a car horn by the old mill will bring him back. Another bit of lore involves a young girl who died in an accident at the McConnell's Mill Covered Bridge (built in 1874) by the mill. If you park on the bridge, turn off your lights and honk your car horn three times, her vision will appear in your rear view mirror. When you turn around to see her, she's gone. (BTW, H&H strongly recommends against sitting in the middle of a covered bridge at night with the lights off, unless you're looking to join the restless departed). The park's Hell's Hollow - what a great name - is the site of a long ago kiln built near a small waterfall, and is also said to host some spirit visitors. However, bummer though it may be, it appears that all of the old park's tales are mere urban legends. A variety of paranormal hunters have dragged their recorders and vids into the woodlands and returned with nary an orb. But hey, if you're ever stomping through McConnell's Mill and spot Moses, the old mill hand, or a little girl in your rear view mirror, give us yell. These stories are too good to be made up.  CPSI Paranormal

MCCORY'S FARM (Delmont, Westmoreland County) The tale goes that in 1984, John McCory killed his children and hung his wife from the porch. He was found insane, and committed to a mental institution. Upon his release, he built a duplicate house on Renton Road, across the street from his still existent former home. Then he hung himself from the porch of the second home. It's said he haunts the property, watching everyone that comes by, and you can feel his presence. Both houses are still standing. GHOSTS

MCELWAIN HOUSE  (Allegheny Twp., Westmoreland County) Strange occurrences began happening almost as soon as the McElwains set foot into their house in 2000.  Their young son said he saw a tall man dressed in jeans and a torn flannel shirt who was bleeding, with bandages wrapped across his forehead on the back porch.  The son is the only one who can see him, and he's appeared to him over two dozen times.  He won't go near the back porch any more, understandably. Then the poltergeist activity began, featuring shattered bowls and banging,  Once, when the radio wasn't tuned to a station the spook liked, he began tossing things out of a closet until they changed the music.  The Pittsburgh Paranormal Society investigated, and found a "nasty old dude who's not happy we're here" and a slave named James.  Unbeknown to them, the house had been a station on the Underground Railroad route.  These spirits emanate from outside the home, where a nearby old barn used to stand.  Investigators detected activity in the basement, as well. The recorded sound of laughter and children playing were attributed to two kids who, through tapes, identified themselves as Sarah and James.  A spirit has been seen in the living room of a girl of about 6 or 7 with blond hair and pigtails, who is wearing a long, blue dress with a white apron. They took photos of the house.  Not too surprisingly, there were plenty of orbs.  In one picture, there are figures of two people visible through the second floor windows. But the McElwain home is only one story... (Valley News Dispatch "Ghost Busters!," October 28, 2007)

MCGOVERN BOULEVARD GHOST (Crescent Twp., Allegheny County) In 2004, a teen reportedly played chicken with his buddies on the train tracks by McGovern Boulevard. His pals moved as the train approached; he didn't.  The train hit him and he died.  Now the game’s winner is said to haunt the Boulevard, but at least no one can call him chicken. The Shadowlands

MCKEESPORT TRAIL (Allegheny County) The exact site is undisclosed to protect the local property owners. There are tales of long ago witches practicing their magic along the trails, a man hanging himself in the surrounding woods, and a dog-like creature haunting the area. This was investigated by the Greater Pittsburgh Paranormal Society, who found no anomalies but did experience cold spots and strange smells. They intend to return for a more thorough examination.  They're hoping the ghosties show up this time. Greater Pittsburgh Paranormal Society

MCKINNEY HOLLOW (West Sunbury, Butler County) Named for the McKinney Oil Company that had wells in the area, it's said that if you stand between Danna McKinney Elementary School and a nearby home, face into the wind and pick just the right spot, you can hear children singing “Row Row Row Your Boat.” Or the breeze whistling through your ears, take your pick. The Shadowlands

MERRICK ART GALLERY (New Brighton, Beaver County) The ghost of Edward Dempster Merrick, who founded and lived in the center, has been seen by many patrons, including three different directors. Visitors have seen a figure that matched Edward's portrait perfectly walking along the Merrick's gallery, wearing glasses and sporting a long gray beard. It was also reported that his portrait smiled at a passer-by during a concert. He must enjoy music, too. The Last Of The Ghosts                                                                                             

MIFFLIN SCHOOL (Lincoln Place, Pittsburgh) There have been sightings reported of a green drifting man in the music room. A floating face has been seen after school hours. The Mifflin School has just had major renovations, and we'll see how the spirits react to it. The Shadowlands

E.N. MILLER ANTIQUE MALL (Verona, Allegheny County) The three story Railroad Avenue building is home to 70 antique dealers. Many visitors have seen a variety of ghostly images in a second floor mirror. The third floor has reports of an image who is always is described as a little old lady with her white hair in a bun. It's primary haunt is an elderly lady, possibly the wife of E.N. Miller himself, who is seen by many after the shops are closed and the building is empty. (Pittsburgh Tribune Review "Paranormal Group Investigates Unexplained Phenomena" 10/24/2012)

MOLNAR'S MARINA (Bunola, Allegheny County) The Monongahela River home was built by a boat captain named John Gardner in 1840.  It features a great deal of eerie activity, such as an empty rocking chair rocking itself, cold spots, music playing, footsteps, mists and orbs.  One particularly large orb that roams the house has been named "Captain John" by the owner.  Faces appear in the window.  One thing's for sure - the owner will never feel alone at Captain Gardner's place.  Even eerier, the owner found human bones along the river bank in 2006, and they're still unidentified.  Pittsburgh Paranormal Society

MONONGAHELA HAUNTED HOUSES (Monongahela, Washington County) Hey, you gotta keep an eye peeled when you're strolling through Monongahela.  One house on Thmas Street has lights that go on and off, footsteps, shadowy images that float toward, but never past, the front door, and a lady in white that roams the house.  Another on Fourth Street features an ever-vigilant watch dog that sits on top of the outside steps - except there is no dog. (Valley Independence "Spooky Encounter For Ghost Walk Host," October 27, 2009)

MONTOUR TRAIL (Peters Twp., Washington County) There are reports of strange noises, a feeling of being followed on the trail, unexplained lights, & a tunnel that rains rocks even though it's completely paved on top. The main tale centers around a train wreck around the turn of the century where the Montour Trail is now located, following the old Montour RR line. A train broke down in the tunnel and its passengers got off, only to be killed by another train unaware of the accident. There are stories of a little girl in a white dress appearing in the tunnel, called either Bell’s Tunnel or Hell’s Tunnel. Others have reported seeing a short man with green eyes and a white glowing hand on the trail while others claim to see a noose as relayed by the Western PA Paranormal Hunters. (Observer-Reporter 10-15-2013 “Haunted South Hills")

MONUMENT HILL (North Side, Allegheny County) In its early days, Monument Hill was part of Allegheny City before it was gobbled up by Pittsburgh, and was called Hogback Hill.  During the War of 1812, the slopes were covered with wounded soldiers as the hill was used as an American field hospital.  Soon after, people reported seeing the spooks of troopers that died there roaming the hillside.  During the Civil War, Union soldiers reported seeing the same spirits.  The hill became Monument Hill shortly afterwards, thanks in part to the Civil War Soldier Monument placed on its slopes, now moved to nearby West Park.  The park is now part of Allegheny County Community College's North Side campus. PA Researchers

MR. WILSON (Allegheny County) This came compliments of a New Hampshire newspaper article. One of the UNH athletes came from the Pittsburgh area, and when the team visited her house when playing Pitt, they met Mr. Wilson. He's the ghost that haunts her family home. He plays poltergeist style tricks, like cutting the lights & slamming and locking doors. Sometimes he's seen as a shadow, and has a favorite room upstairs. He's reportedly the spirit of the man that built the house who died in the barn when he was kicked in the head by a horse. (Portsmouth Herald “Ghost Story: 'Haunted' New Hampshire Gymnast,” February 27, 1999)

MT. CARMEL CEMETERY (Center Twp., Beaver County) The Pittsburgh Ghost Hunters Association investigated this spot, and found orbs of all colors there, along with taped voices. They saw a face on the tombstone of John Erwin, and that seemed to be the center of activity. They were also pushed away from graves by invisible hands, found hot and cold spots, and saw mists and blurs flashing across the cemetery. They thought it to be one of the best demonstrations of ghost activity in a graveyard they had ever come across, although they're unaware of any urban legends associated with Mt. Carmel. Raw Fear 

MT. WASHINGTON TAVERN (Farmington, Fayette County) The Tavern is located off the National Road (Route 40) and is part of the Fort Necessity Park.  It was ready for business in 1828, and now is a museum.  If you ask the park rangers about it, some will say it's haunted; other not.  But some of them say they've heard bodiless footsteps and laughter in the empty museum after hours.  A visitor claims she saw a baby in a cradle exhibited in one of the upstairs rooms, and has orb pictures galore.  So if you get the chance, go in with an open mind.  You may be in for a spooky surprise.  Grave Addiction

MT. ZION CEMETERY (Raccoon Twp., Washington County) Fog, mist, and orbs have been reported at this graveyard. The Shadowlands

MUDLICK HOLLOW (Brighton Twp., Beaver County) In the 1800's, a newly wed couple returning from their vows were killed when a small critter darted out of woods and spooked their horse. The buggy they were riding in turned over, and the bride broke her neck while the husband was suffocated under the incapacitated horse. It's said that on moonless nights that a fog covers the dirt road and you can hear a buggy fast approaching. But before it reaches you, the sounds of a crash followed by a scream are heard – then the fog clears and dead silence. One forum poster said he visited the spot, saw a glowing white female figure in a wedding gown, and heard the whispered words "I need help."  The Shadowlands    And if you listen closely in the woods, some nights you'll hear cries of agony coming from the darkness.  That's supposed to be the moans of Patrick Mulvanen, who operated a lime kiln in the area and lived in a mansion less than a mile from the Hollow in the mid-1800s.  His fiance, Anna Mines, took a tumble down the grand staircase and broke her neck.  Mulvanen is said to still roam the nearby woods on foggy nights, in shock and disbelief.  Ghosts of Vanport

MURDER SWAMP (New Castle, Lawrence County) Between 1925 and 1939, five decapitated and mutilated bodies were found in the area of a Beaver River marsh which became known as Murder Swamp. Three bodies were found in the swamp, one found down the river by McKees Rocks, and another was found in a New Castle slag pile. The bloody work is thought to be by suspected serial killer Frank Sweeney, known as the “Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run” in Cleveland, where he began his alleged bloody crime spree, but has never been proven and is still controversial. The link was made because of similar MO's, easy rail accessibility, and various Ohio newspapers found with the victims, none of which were ever identified. Local folklore says the ghosts haunt the place their bodies were found, whether in Cleveland or New Castle. And they believe the Mad Butcher still hunts for victims, even in death. Brrrrrrr!  There's lots of spooky tales in Devils, Ghosts and Witches by George Swetnam, including this one.  Torso Killer - Troy Taylor

MURPHY'S MANSION (Plum, Allegheny County) One spouse killed another - whether it was the husband killing the wife or vice versa has been forgotten in the mists of time - and the home on Sardis Road was abandoned after the deed.  It was eventually razed, and now it's said that nothing will grow where the house stood. (If One Believes - Area Is Rich With Settings For Supernatural," October 24, 2007)

MYSTERY MILE (Ohioville, Beaver County) A mile-long stretch of Kelly Road in Beaver County is reportedly the site of supernatural activity. Tame animals turn violent and attack passing cars, and the woods lining the road are noted for its strange sounds and white apparitions. The cause of the events isn't known, but speculation ranges from a curse put on the land by displaced Native Americans to occult activity that once took place in the region.     Haunted Locations - Wikipedia

NATIONAL AVIARY (North Side, Pittsburgh) The Aviary is located on the sight of the old Western Penitentiary (not to be mistaken for SCI-Pittsburgh, which replaced it), that operated from 1826-1880 and at one time held Confederate POW's in it's cells. Some of those rebels must have taken to northern hospitality. They're said to roam through the Aviary's halls after dark.  Others say there were no rebs held there and that the shades are former prisoners. Whichever, we hope the macaws don't scare them too much. Ghosts - About Pittsburgh

NEMACOLIN CASTLE (Brownsville, Fayette County) The Nemacolin Castle is steeped in history. It was once the location of Indian burial grounds and fortifications, and the area was the intended destination of Chief Nemacolin, a Lanai Lenape chief, when he guided the Cresap expeditions across the mountains, establishing the Nemacolin Trail which later became the approximate route of the National Road. In 1759, during the French and Indian Wars, Fort Burd was constructed very near the Castle's current site. In 1780, Jacob Bowman purchased a building lot from Thomas Brown, a founder of Brownsville, for 23 English pounds. He named the site in honor of Chief Nemacolin, setting up a trading post and later building the Castle around it. As Bowman's wealth grew, so did his family, and what is now the center section of the house was added as living space. About 1850, the home's famous tower and a formal Victorian wing were added by his second generation. Nemacolin Castle is unique in that three distinct time periods are represented in the interior design and furnishings, which is now maintained by the Brownsville Historical Society. There have been several sightings there.  Overall, there are allegedly 10 ghosts there, including a giggling child with dark curly hair named Mary (there were several Mary's raised in the castle) that plays in the nursery. She even spelled her name out in blocks, and is accompanied by a small brown dog.  Another is of a maid who fell down the stairway of the castle to her death. There's the prim and proper Elizabeth. Jacob Bowman himself is supposed to haunt the library. Amos the spook is seen in the basement. A protective nanny has been reported. Visitors have glimpsed flitting shadows, smelled tobacco smoke, and heard barking dogs, voices, music & bodiless footsteps treading the stairs. Investigators have several pictures of orbs and found cold spots. The curators are supposed to have quite a bit of documentation at Nemacolin, if you ever visit the Castle. Nemacolin Castle - Watson's Guide Book  (Pittsburgh Tribune Review “Ghost Tour Of Nemacolin Castle Offers A Haunting Experience,” October 13, 2002)

NEVIN HOUSE (Allegheny West, Pittsburgh) The rented North Lincoln Avenue rowhouse, built by Thomas Nevin in 1863 and owned by John Wojtyna since 1980, is home to at least two ghosts, according to paranormal investigator John DuMaurier and his team. They found a pair of spirits, one of a young boy upstairs and another of a cook or maid in the basement. Prior tenants had told him of some strange happenings – shoes lined up when no one was home, videotapes being swept off the shelf, and a voice whispering “Help me.” (Pittsburgh Post Gazette “For These Ghost Hunters, It's all In the Ectoplasm,” February 22, 2000)

NEW CASTLE PLAYHOUSE (Lawrence County) The third floor of the New Castle Playhouse has been host to some odd experiences. The wardrobe master saw a vague specter in a long trench coat moving about through a rack of costumes – strangely enough, a rack of trench coats. Maybe it was looking for a trade-in.  People have seen shadows pass through the windows. There is an intense feeling of unease on the floor. One day four high school students waited for a teacher on the third floor. They were all downstairs within 20 minutes, with one girl in tears. Some trace the floor's woes back to the building's construction, when a worker fell to his death from a third floor beam to the auditorium floor below.  Other believe that the apparition is the shade of deceased music director John Reynolds. (The New Castle News “Is the New Castle Playhouse Really Haunted?,” November 1, 2006)


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