Three Rivers Haunts & History

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

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Haunts & History

PITTSBURGH PLAYHOUSE (Oakland, Pittsburgh) This Craft Avenue site is possibly the best known haunt in Pittsburgh. Built by Richard Rauh Sr. on the site of some old tenements, a synagogue and a German club/speakeasy, the Pittsburgh Playhouse opened its' doors in 1934.  The theater wasn't the building's' only entertainment venue – the upstairs was used as a brothel, the theater served as a church, and the basement was a restaurant at some time or another. It was a full service entertainment center.

  • The first ghost is Weeping Eleanor, who is never seen but whose sobbing can be heard at night. She was a victim of a fire that claimed her rowhouse, then standing where the dressing rooms are now located. She and her daughter perished in the blaze, and she's been lamenting their fate ever since.
  • The Lady In White is next on the list. She was an actress who discovered her husband was having a tryst with one of the ladies from the upstairs bordello – on their wedding day. The reception was being held in the downstairs restaurant after they were married in the Playhouse church. She climbed the steps in a rage, found them together, and shot them both dead. Then she committed suicide by leaping off the balcony. Her ghost has been reported to be seen still pacing that balcony, gun in hand.  She's appeared to people on numerous occasions, always in a white dress. She once pointed a ghostly pistol at a stagehand's head and pulled the trigger. He dodged the spectral bullet, but ended up somewhat the worse for wear – he quit his job.
  • The third name is John Johns, a prominent stage actor at the Playhouse in the 1950's. He suffered a heart attack while at the downstairs restaurant. His castmates carried him up to his dressing room, #7, to wait for the ambulance, but Johns died before they could get him to the hospital. Since then, people hear disembodied footsteps climbing the stairway to room #7, always stopping just short of the door. Johns occasionally appears, dressed to kill in his tuxedo, sometimes dancing on stage with the White Lady. He checks the sets and fancies himself a director, intently watching the rehearsals from the seats, and occasionally sharing some tricks of the trade with the actors.
  • Following in the illustrious line of spooks is Gorgeous George, a misnomer if ever there was one. His claim to fame is that he has a green, oozing face. He likes to tap people on the shoulder and watch their shock when they turn and see his rotting visage. He then disappears, cackling maniacally. No one knows where exactly he came from. Maybe he just enjoys the Playhouse company.
  • The latest ghoul to join in the fun is the Bouncing Red Meanie, sometimes called the Bouncing Loony. On Halloween Night, 1974, a group of students held a séance to try to communicate with the ghostly gang at the Playhouse. But they got a spook they didn't expect. When they looked at the stage, a man with a gray face, dressed in red from head to toe, was there, pacing back and forth. He picked up steam every time he crossed the stage, until eventually he was going so fast he rose in the air and began bouncing of the walls. As that happened, every phone in the theater began ringing. After a minute, the distracted circle of students finally looked away from the phones back to the hall.  They found the auditorium was completely filled with people dressed in turn of the century outfits – starched collars, dark jackets, and evening gowns. A spotlight focused on the Bouncing Red Meanie. He faced the crowd and the audience broke into silent applause for his night's performance. The Bouncing Red Meanie manifests himself now either as a man or a red ball of light, and his pleasure is to chase people at breakneck speed.

There's also alleged to be some ghostly shenanigans that happen in the ticket office, but they pale compared to the antics of the phantom posse working the building.  A recent study has recommended that the building's operators, Point Park University, bring its' theater company back to its' downtown campus.  If Point Park listens to the experts, the spooks may be playing to an empty house soon. EDIT - the school is moving its theater department downtown.  No word yet on what the fate of the Pittsburgh Playhouse will be after the thespians return to PPU's Golden Triangle campus.  Obiwan's Paranormal Page & Dread Central

PITTSYLVANIA (Regional) The legendary state of Pittsylvania, sometimes called Westsylvania, was just a Congressional vote away from becoming a reality back in the day. According to historian George Swetnam, "In March, 1759, less than half a year after Forbes had taken Fort Duquesne and named it Pittsburgh, a letter from New Jersey to the Maryland Gazette reported a movement for application to the Crown . . . 'to settle a New Colony on the Ohio, by the name Pittsylvania.'" It was to include southwestern Pennsylvania, the western panhandle of Maryland, nearly all of what is now West Virginia, a bit of what is now Virginia, and a small part of eastern Kentucky. The king nixed that petition, but the settlers didn't give up. They were the western frontier then, and believed that their interests were being snubbed by the city fops back East. A writ for the creation of an independent Pittsylvania was presented to the Second Continental Congress in 1775. But the Revolutionary War broke out shortly afterwards, and in the name of national unity, Congress chose to ignore their request, much the same as politicians do with citizen requests today.  The whole history of the region is written by George Swetnam in Pittsylvania Country.   Westsylvania - Wikipedia

POINT STATE PARK/FORT PITT (The Point, Pittsburgh): Point State Park is built on the site of the old Fort Pitt, and the museum is built over its' blockhouse, inside the outline of the walls. The battle of Grant's Hill was fought here during the French and Indian Wars. One cop on patrol at the Park saw a ghostly battle between Highlander troops and the French with their Indian cohorts. Other police and the homeless that roam the Park have seen mists, frontiersmen, and Indians. Some say even George Washington has put in an appearance. Strange sounds have been heard in, and objects have disappeared from, the museum. Guards have seen people on their monitors that aren't there when they check in person. Old bones have just recently been dug up during the Park's recent renovation. The ghosts don't seem too fond of the French & Indian war reenactors that perform there, either. One was murdered at the park in the 1970's. The Shadowlands

PROPEL SCHOOL (Homestead, Allegheny County) A cafeteria worker at the Tenth Avenue charter school across from the old Homestead Works smokestacks claimed the building was haunted. The  Pittsburgh Paranormal Society captured audio evidence of a spirit answering questions by knocking. (Our Strange World "Haunting Season In Pennsylvania" September 12, 2010)

PROVIDENCE MEETING HOUSE/CEMETERY (Perryopolis, Fayette County) The Providence Meeting House, as it is locally known, is the third building to stand on this site, erected in 1893. It was constructed from the original stone of the previous meetinghouse. The Providence Meeting House was first chartered in 1789 to Mr. John Cope as a branch of the Redstone Monthly Meeting, which consisted of several Quaker families. It was active up until the 1880s.  Only one acre of the original ground remains, and a gated cemetery surrounds the sole structure. The Quaker Church is the subject of much local folklore and haunted stories, and though it is very peaceful with gorgeous views by day, it is rather spooky by night. The legend is that a young girl died at the cemetery. A description of how she died is written on the wall of the small meeting house beside the cemetery. The kicker is that if you read the description, you'll die the same way. (No, we have no intention of finding out what it says!) It's said that a witch was killed in the Meeting House during the 1800's – but lately the deserted room been rumored to be a place where black magic and animal sacrifice was practiced. The inside walls are covered with pentagons and ritual writings. There are reports of orbs being photographed in the building, and extreme cold when it's entered. The Mon Valley Ghost Research Society investigated the meeting hall, and believe it's clean of paranormal activity, but badly abused by teens using it for a party house. The cemetery, though, is a different matter entirely. The tale is that there's an unlucky stone, and if you step on, you'll be dogged by bad luck.  It's said that one person died within the week of stepping on the cursed marker.  The MVGRS heard voices, one of which was taped as saying “Don't tell her anything”, possibly referring to one of the investigators. Other visitors have been pushed to the ground by invisible arms. Is it a case of rowdy teens horsing around or disturbed spirits that just want to be left in peace?  (Gateway Mon Valley View newspaper “Hex or Hoax? Creepy Stories Haunt Quaker Cemetery Grounds,” October 25, 2005)  Haunted Fayette County

QUAKER CEMETERY (Independence Twp., Beaver County) There have been reported sightings of a man chasing a woman with an ax, the pair eventually disappearing, and of multi colored lights floating through the grounds.  An evil presence is supposed to be felt upon entering the graveyard. The county had a large Quaker population in its' early days, and we found two cemeteries in Independence, Bryan and Pine Grove, but nothing to indicate if either one of these graveyards is the one cited. The Shadowlands

QUAKER CEMETERY (Newell, Fayette County) Dang, those Quakers loved their cemeteries! Many people have claimed to have seen and heard spirits here. The only local graveyard we could find was the Old California Cemetery, previously known as Union Cemetery, and we don't know if that's it.  Many Quaker cemeteries are deserted now, their names lost to history. The Shadowlands

RACHEL'S FARM (Greene County) This story is told by Patty Antol of Ghost Hunters:  A friend was renting a 200 year-old farmhouse, and was hearing footsteps, had things disappear that would show up again weeks later, and a second floor so spooked out no one would go up the stairs.  The group checked out the house and found a very unfriendly spook and her friends.  The spirit left messages on a mirror and EVPs that said "I'm here" and "Don't talk to me."  After some research, they had a history of the home and got the ghost to admit she was Rachel, who stayed anchored to the home she lived in during the 1880s because her infant son died there. And there were two more unidentified entities there with her.  They aren't leaving, either.  Lights zip around the house, misty forms and faces appear, there are cold spots, touchings, and even the occasional shove.  A word to the wise -  make sure you have an ironclad escape clause written into the next lease you sign.  (Pittsburgh Post Gazette "Readers Share Their Tales Of Hauntings" October 27, 2007)

SW RANDALL'S TOYS AND GIFTS (Downtown, Pittsburgh) The old five-story Smithfield Street building has been home to Randall's for over four decades, a well-known shop that features an entire floor of dolls. Staff members tell of seeing a lady's apparition on the third floor with the dolls, and customers have reported both cold spots and their energy being drained with a feeling of presence. (Point Park Globe "Paranormal Preys On Pittsburgh" October 11, 2011)

R & R STATION (Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County) The The R&R Station, built in 1883, has some permanent guests - at last count, it hosted 15 different ghosts. The first floor boasts of the spirits of a little boy, a little girl, and a milkman.  The second floor lays claim to a Victorian lady, two former owners, one of whom is supposed to be John Polonosky, who owned the building a century ago when it was the East End Hotel, the Groper, and the Top Hat Man (Robert) and Sarah.  On the third floor, we have the Mob Boss, the Snitch, the Insane Daughter, and two children playing in the hallway. It's also where infamous Room 15 is, the alleged portal the various spirits use to travel between planes.  There's also been sightings reported from the lower level, where the bar is located.  The ghostly group collectively has kicked, pinched, and torn the sheets from unsuspecting customers. People in the building have heard bouncing balls upstairs, footsteps when the building was empty, seen objects disappear just to reappear later, and flying pots and pans. The owners thought they were losing their minds, and contacted the Paranormal Researchers Organization, which assured them their sanity was fine. PRO captured orb photographs and recorded voices, and said they couldn't explain the things going on at the R & R rationally. Now that they know that their establishment is haunted, the relieved owners have sent tapes to movie producers, sponsored nights with psychics and PRO, gotten newspaper coverage, and offer dinner followed by a tour. Who said a six pack or three of spooks is bad for business? (Pittsburgh Tribune Review “Haunted Happenings,” February 12, 2006) Haunted R&R

RC MENS CLUB (Herman, Butler County) The club is located on what was once a farm, with a history dating back to the 1850s. Claims reported by both employees and patrons include the apparition of a young girl in the bar area, and she's believed responsible for glasses and bar stools being knocked over. Little girl apparitions are seen pretty often: one was spotted looking out one of the second floor windows and another was seen standing in the middle of the road leading up to the club, then walking into the surrounding woods. Possibly they're all the same spirit. A "tall ghost" has been reported in the kitchen and again in the back yard. It is also believed by some that the spirit of a little boy who was killed in a fire in the thirties still remains on the property Steel City Paranormal

RENTON MINES (Plum, Allegheny County) In the 1920s, 8 miners were killed in the Renton Mines after an explosion.  It's rumored that if you go there at night and shine your headlights at the mines, their ghosts can be seen. (Woodland Progress "If One Believes - Area Is Rich With Settings For Supernatural," October 24, 2007)

REUBEN'S GRAVE (Kittanning Twp., Armstrong County) In Shott's cemetery once was a stone that read "Reuben, Son of Daniel and Mary A. Briney Died June 2, 1863, Aged 17.Y 17.D - As you are now so once was I, As I am now so you will be; Remember me as you pass by, prepare to die and follow me." Pretty spooky all by itself, hey? It gets weirder.  Reuben was a broken hearted teen, and in his angst, he rode to a tree near the cemetery on his white steed. He put a noose around his neck, tossed and looped the other end of the rope around a branch, and spurred his horse. Goodbye, cruel world. If it were only so easy. It's said that he can be seen to this day riding  on the hillside at night atop his white stallion with flaming red eyes, looking for his lost love. And woe to those that see him; they're said to be doomed to a horrible death, like Reuben's. Good luck trying to find his tombstone; the top was toppled and broken 35 years ago, and hauled away so all that's left is an unmarked footer. So how do we know what it said? Because the broken stone and its inscription was part of Ford City HS 1974 yearbook, no doubt a reminder of the impetuousness of youth. The Purple Pinkie

REX THEATER (Southside, Pittsburgh) Opened as a vaudeville theater in 1905, the Rex Theater has been a Carson Street entertainment venue for over a century. Performers have reported odd occurrences like strange knocking, or claim that a ghostly finger tapped them on the shoulder. The staff has stories of apparitions, orbs, strange sounds, and moving objects. The hall has been investigated by Steel Town Paranormal, which neither confirms nor denies the Rex's lore.

RICE'S LANDING TRAIN TUNNEL (Rice's Landing, Greene County) Rice's Landing is a small borough located around a bend in the Monongahela River and is a historic district known once for the coal barges passing through its' busy river locks. It's said that on a rainy night in the 1800's, a young boy driving a buggy was in a hurry, and tried to beat a train across the tracks. He didn't, and in the resulting collision, his head was severed. His body was tossed from the buggy, and when they found it, a piece of stove pipe was found stuck where his noggin should have been. Now, if you're by the train tunnel and it's another rainy night, just walk the tracks and call out “Stove Pipe” three times, and his ghost will appear. The Shadowlands

RIVERVIEW HIGH SCHOOL (Oakmont, Allegheny County) The school, built near the Hulton Bridge in 1971, is considered haunted.  It's on the site of the old Elizabeth A. Bradley orphanage, and it's ghosts are thought of as playful children.  Lights and water fountains go on and off on their own, and voices are heard and people sensed when no one else is about. (Woodland Progress "If One Believes - Area Is Rich With Settings For Supernatural," October 24, 2007)

ROAMIN' ROSIE (Monroeville, Allegheny County) In old Restland Cemetery, a young lady dressed in turn of the century clothing wanders quietly among the graves. If you see her, look for the monument by the road marking the final resting place of Rosie. Does the statue on the tomb look familiar? It should, because the girl you saw was “Roamin' Rosie.” (It's “Roamin' Rosie”, not “Walkin' Rosie” - we checked with the locals. Unfortunately, you can't check her monument anymore.  Located near the road, the cemetery took it down because of vandalism damage. The Rosie legend went that if you shined your flashlight on the statue, you’d see it come alive and advance toward you) Her ghostly image matched perfectly with her monument's life size stone portrayal. Over the years, she's been spotted by many Restland visitors, and even been photographed. The locals believe she comes to life at night and wanders the graveyard under the moonlight.  One local tale claims that Rosie was jilted by her lover and that she roamed the cemetery with a knife in her hand, covered in blood.  Her monument was supposedly found on at least one occasion stained in red and lying on its side. But no one really knows her story, who she is, or when she died; all her stone said was Rosie. Maybe she's trying to find herself, too. Walkin' Rosie - Keith Johnson

ROLLING HILLS COUNTRY CLUB (McMurray, Washington County) The clubhouse is allegedly built over the original basement of an old farmhouse that was on the property, the same farmhouse that a man hung himself in. The spirit was exorcised years ago, but not entirely successfully. There are still sightings of the little man, accompanied by weird noises. We can't find any background on the club or its' buildings. The Shadowlands


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