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

NORTHGATE DRIVE (Warrendale, Allegheny County) An old phantom muscle car that wrecked while drag racing reportedly haunts this road. The Shadowlands

NORTH PARK (Allison Park, Allegheny County) This popular county park is allegedly haunted by the spirits of Civil War soldiers and Native Americans. The Indians we can understand.  Some parts of the park are supposed to be built over their sacred grounds.  The soldiers?  We're not sure what sent them marching to North Park. This was a tale passed on by Clare in a Snopes post (scroll down 4 or 5 posts.)  There's also a legend that North Park was the site of a Nike missile battery during the Cold War.  This is fact, not fiction.  The old military post is now used as a police and fire training center.

NORTH SIDE CHILDCARE BUILDING (Pittsburgh) This was the former site of a North Avenue supermarket in the 1980's where a woman shopper was shotgunned in the face. Reports of a headless woman walking in the building have been made by the children at the daycare facility. After 20 years, it's hard to track down an old grocery. There are several day care providers on the avenue. The Shadowlands

NORVELT COKE OVENS (Westmoreland County) Ghosts of miners are reportedly seen walking in the woods, and the sounds of rocks being tossed in a pond have been heard.  That's pretty tame stuff for this rough and tumble mine town.  If ever a place should have ghosts, this is it. Norvelt was a New Deal housing project, named after Eleanor Roosevelt. It was home to men that worked for the HC Frick Coal & Coke Company, putting it squarely in the middle of the USW - management clashes of the 1930's.  We wonder who the rocks are being thrown at - the visitors or the ghosts of the company police?  The Shadowlands

NORWIN ELKS (Manor, Westmoreland County) Originally it was Old Fletcher's place. After the Elk's took over, the paranormal activity began. There are several spirits overrunning the club. First, in the dining area there's a ghost in the attic, that of an indistinct youngster who sits and watches you. You can feel the child's presence. He's even alleged to play with the neighborhood boys.  There are also reports of a man in the bar who never leaves. When you force him to go, he gets to the parking lot and disappears. The next area of activity is the basement. You can hear dogs barking for hours, but there are no dogs around. You may meet a maintenance man down there who tells you the furnace needs cleaned, but when you answer him, he disappears. The spookiest place is the barn. Reportedly, radios in there change stations and turn on and off. You can supposedly hear the sound of cowboy boots following you around. You can hear a scream late at night. You can see a man walking in the rafters. Saving the best for last, Old Man Fletcher's groundskeeper hung himself in the barn when Fletcher sold the property, figuring he was out of a job.  He's been spotted roaming the upstairs. But locals know that Fletcher's Barn was a commercial “terror barn” up until 2005 during the Halloween season, so caveat emptor on this tale.  The Shadowlands

OLD BRIDGE (Independence Twp., Beaver County) 150 years ago, a couple allegedly died when their horse spooked and their carriage tumbled from a wooden bridge into the creek. It's said that the figure of the woman can still be seen running alongside the creek. Service Creek, Traverse Creek, and Obney Run all flow through the township, but we can't specify which bridge it was or even if it still exists.  The Shadowlands

OLD BRUSH CREEK CEMETERY (Ardara, Westmoreland County) Also known as the Leger Road Cemetery, this historic graveyard is haunted by the spirits of the Choctaw Indians, who fought with the early English settlers. You can reportedly hear footsteps rustle the grass and see shadows. This report has been debunked by the Paranormal Study & Research Society. They base their argument on no Choctaws, no tale.  Then again, if you replace the Choctaw with the Shawnee...  The Shadowlands

OLD HANNA'S TOWN (Greensburg, Westmoreland County) Hanna's Town, founded in 1773 and named for its founder Robert Hanna, acted as the first Seat of Westmoreland County and the first English court west of the Allegheny Mountains.  Hanna’s Town was attacked and burned on July 13, 1782 by a raiding party of Indians and their British allies. The town never recovered, and the county seat was moved to Greensburg in 1786.  Now it consists of the reconstructed Hanna Tavern/Courthouse and three vintage late 18th century log houses, a reconstructed Revolutionary era fort and blockhouse, a wagon shed - and a couple of colonial ghosties.  People who work there have heard strange noises, and had objects move without any human assistance.  Investigators have heard raps in response to their questions.  There are claims of people seeing a figure in a window. And some people report an older man in a period outfit walking between buildings and talking to them, but he doesn't exist, at least on this plane.  (Indiana Gazette "Haunted Sites Abound In Western Pennsylvania," October 25, 2009)

OLD SHOT TOWER (Darlington, Beaver County) Medical students of the late 19th century used the building for their studies, and many ghastly screams were heard coming from the building.  But it's haunted heroine was the Dustino girl. She lived in Old Shot Tower, and the beautiful girl was head over heels in love with a local man who was on his his way to South America. Swearing her fidelity, she said she would wait forever for him. And she did. She sat in a chair by her window watching for him, day after day, in vain. After she died, people could see her ghost, still sitting in the same chair, waiting for the return of her beloved. The building collapsed in 1892, sparing us any more broken hearted spirits. Haunts

OLIPHANT FURNACE (Fayette County) FH Oliphant ran quite a few furnaces in the SW corner of Pennsylvania, prime coal country. This site originally sported a stone furnace, and later a forced air one, if we have it located right. But the key to this story is the nitre mines in the area, which the settlers used to make gunpowder. The tale goes that you can hear a woman scream and then land with a thud on the rocks, although you can't see her. Sounds like the victim of an old explosion reliving the event, and historically it happened several times. The Shadowlands

OLIVE CEMETERY (Murrysville, Westmoreland County) The graveyard is on Logan's Ferry Road, just off Holiday Park Drive, by the long deserted Olive Reformed Church. The cemetery, which dates back to 1817 and probably beyond, is said to haunted by none other than old man Alexander Logan himself, who ran a ferry across the Allegheny River to Springdale in the early 1800s. The Shadowlands

THE ORANGE BELT (Allegheny County) The Orange Belt is part of Pittsburgh's mysterious highway system, forming a 92 mile arc around the city from Route 88 in Library to Route 51 in Elizabeth.  Besides passing near some spooked out sites, it has a legend of its own.  It's said that when you're driving a section of it, you may meet up with its calling card, a phantom car.  The phenomena especially occurs at night, when the car behind or approaching you just disappears from the road.  Ghosts of the Orange Belt

OUGA (Monongahela River) This mammoth 20' long, 500 pound catfish-like creature was supposed to be able to drown deer along the shore by knocking them into the river with its' tail, and then devouring them whole. This is a Native American tale, reportedly verified by letters written by the region's early settlers & sent back to their homelands. Ouga makes a splash in the book Weird Pennsylvania by Matt Lake.

OUR LADY OF THE SACRED HEART HIGH SCHOOL (Coraopolis, Allegheny County) OLSH opened in 1932 as a girl's school, and went coed in 1970. The school is reportedly haunted by the “faceless nun”, a long time sister that lived in the OLSH convent. (The school's operated by the Felician nuns) She's seen mostly after school hours, walking down the third floor hall of the main school building. Her head is bowed and hands folded, as if in prayer, but the features of her face can't be made out. She been described by others as an empty nun's habit walking. The nun is also allegedly spotted in church. Her story is told to all the incoming freshmen. People we have spoken to know the story, but have never run across the “faceless nun.” The Shadowlands

PAPA J'S CENTRO (Downtown Pittsburgh, Allegheny County)  Papa J's restaurant has been in business for a couple of decades, and the building it's in dates back to 1860, when it opened its doors - as a brothel.  The headboard of the bed of locally famous madame Dolly Cavanaugh decorates the bar, and the cellar is full of secret passages and hiding spaces abound.  There were at least three murders in the building, and it's believed that a couple of those spirits are still about.  The ladies room was the scene of one of the murders when a jealous husband caught his wife working and shot her; it's a hot spot.  The loo is located down a tight, dark hallway where old photographs of children line the wall, and they are rumored to haunt the hallway, given away by the sound of ghostly giggling.  Folks have also spotted a teen girl in the hall who leaves by walking through the wall.  She's thought to be an orphaned maid who worked the cathouse.  (The stories were passed on in the Point Park Globe "Downtown Restaurant Haunts Customers" November 5, 2008)

PATTERSON TOWNSHIP CEMETERY (Beaver Falls, Beaver County) The defunct cemetery has been relocated, and its former spot on 10th Street is now Lincoln Place. But the early graveyard was said to be the final resting place of Native American bodies that were just tossed into the ground without a proper burial. Old timers tell stories of wailing and moaning that used to emanate from the disrespected Indians while the old cemetery was still in use.  The Last Of The Ghosts 

PENN THEATER (Butler, Butler County) The Penn Theater was built in 1938, and was Butler's premier movie house until 2001, when it was shuttered.  The Butler - Penn volunteer group is in the process of restoring it, so the movies -  and its ghost - can celebrate showtime again.  The legend goes that sometime in the 1940s, one of the movie goers made his way into the basement ushers room and hung himself.  His spook has been seen by staff and patrons since, and he likes to play the poltergeist, with footsteps, eerie noises, and moved furniture.  And he's ready and waiting to thrill some movie visitors again.  PSRA, the group reporting the events, is no longer on line.

PIGEON CREEK CEMETERY (Somerset Twp., Washington County) This is an old area. The church dates to 1829 and the tombstones in the cemetery go back to 1777. There are reports of touchings, the sound of rustling footsteps in the dry leaves (except there aren't any leaves on the ground) that pick up speed as they approach people, and the feeling of a presence and being watched. Mon Valley Ghost Research

PIG LADY (Darlington Twp., Beaver County)  Back in 1795, popular 18-year-old Barbara Davidson was beheaded and her body was stuffed beneath the floorboards of her parents’ porch. Her head and her murderer were never found. Since then, local lore claims that Davidson has frequented haunts in the ghost town of Cannelton, once a coal hamlet, along Little Beaver Creek in search of her head. She’s been reported as a wispy headless figure drifting in the meadows near the old cemetery where her body was buried. Visitors to her grave site reported hearing far-away sounds of a woman weeping. A disembodied head was rumored to have frightened a wagoner and his team of horses years ago. Campers, party-goers and residents have claimed to see the Pig Lady - a women whose head has been replaced by that of a grinning hog - walking along Little Beaver Creek near the Davidson family cemetery. Now her lore is a theme of the Haunted Barn and Hayride, sponsored by the Little Beaver Lions Club, where it's been reported that sightings of Barbara have continued. (Beaver County Times "Late Lion Official Won't Get To See His Favorite Haunt" October 17, 2010)

PINEHURST SUBDIVISION (Cranberry, Butler County) The original owners of the land said there were 12 ancient Indian burial mounds on the site that had been plowed under to make farmland. Later workers found bones dating back to 200 BCE, which would place the mounds back to the time of the Adena Indians, known as moundbuilders. The residents have reported countless unexplained phenomena, unspecified by the site. But it's tough to scare those suburbanites away. Pinehurst is into phase 5 of its' development at last count. The Shadowlands

PITCAIRN SPOOKS (Allegheny County) For a small borough, Pitcairn, a gritty eastern suburb, has more than its' share of haunts. (Word to the wise: stay out of the woods!) They include:

  • Fair View Cemetery: This Hillside Avenue graveyard holds fewer than 100 bodies, and it's been 20 years since there's been an interment. The Fair View Cemetery is said to be always covered in fog and haunted by elderly spirits. It's poorly kept, with some weeds taller than the headstones, so maybe the ghost are out looking for the maintenance man. However, rumors of white specters at the top of the hill may have had another darker origin. A field beside the old cemetery was a meeting place for the Ku Klux Klan back in the bad ol' days, and their evil energy can last a long time.
  • Johnson's Shadow Man: There's an old, closed-off roadway going through the woods in the northwestern corner of the borough coming from Monroeville known as Johnson's Road. Three bodies have been found on this road in two decades.  The victims were young girls between the ages of 7-13. A shadowy figure has been spotted by the nearby reservoir and at the entrance to the road on the Pitcairn side. At night, footsteps and voices can be heard in the woods; whether they're from the spirit world or partying teens is undetermined. Pitcairn & Monroeville police recommend avoiding this closed section of road and the surrounding woods, in case you're inclined to visit. They have enough bodies on their hands.
  • The Main Path: This is the path that gets you to The Trails. It's reported that walkers often hear footsteps following them, but whenever they turn around, no one is there.
  • The Old Man Beyond the Creek: There's a trail through the woods that takes you to a bridge over a valley (does Pitcairn have any land that's cleared?) That path belongs to the spirit of the “Old Man”, a long gone child molester that used the woods as cover to perform his crimes and where he committed suicide when he was finally cornered. As you walk that trail, the ghost of the “Old Man” will approach from an intersecting trail ahead of you with his head down, bump into your arm as he passes, and then he keeps on truckin' . Once he's past you, he disappears.
  • The Sand Castles: A “sand castle” is the nickname for an old deserted railroad shop. There were many accidents there over the years involving the moving and coupling and uncoupling of railroad cars.  When you're near these structures at night, via the trails, you can hear voices in the surrounding woods and trails. 
  • The Trails: Finally! The Trails are a network of paths crisscrossing the dreaded woods. Their entrance is behind the old Pitcairn ball fields. The Trail area is allegedly haunted by the spirits of railroad workers who throughout the years have met their fate in various accidents. You can hear branches breaking and feel stones being tossed. The railroad spooks are naturals here. According to the official borough history, it is named for Robert Pitcairn, a former superintendent of the Pittsburgh division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. He was instrumental in locating switching yards, an engine roundhouse and car repair shops – the “sand castles” - to the community in the 1880s.

All Pitcairn references are from The Shadowlands

PITT SPIRITS (Oakland, Pittsburgh) From its' humble beginnings in a log cabin still shown on campus in 1787, Pitt has grown into a huge institution known for its' research.  But its' scientists still haven't figured out how to get the ghosts to move off campus.

  • Alumni Hall: Built in 1915, this building was originally the Masonic Hall. Now it's home for various Pitt offices, and the workers report a "distinguished looking gent" roaming its halls in a tux. It's speculated that he's a lost Mason by Wikipedia.
  • Bruce Hall: There's some confusion about the identity of the ghost of Bruce Hall, named for chancellor Robert Bruce. Bruce Hall was once the Schenley apartments (it's now a dorm in the Quad), and it's owner, who lived on the 12th floor, was involved in an affair. The tale starts with suicide by hanging in the stairwell, or perhaps a leap from the rooftop, or both – whether the mistress, wife, or both took their life is uncertain – and ends in hazardous duty for the Pitt catering crew. The ghost, nicknamed Harriet (they even hang a Christmas stocking out for her), likes to pull poltergeist tricks on the banquet staff. She'll toss napkins off the table, bang cabinet doors, and jumble the place settings. But other than scaring the aprons off the workers (especially when it's night, and they're alone), she seems fairly tame and content to spook the Banquet Hall (officially, the floor is home to the Office of Special Events). At any rate, there's a fairly well documented ghost on the 12th floor of Bruce Hall, doing her best to disrupt the staff. Oh, and be careful on the elevator – sometimes it'll take you to the 12th floor no matter what button you pushed, and keep you there for awhile.
  • Cathedral of Learning: Mary Croghan Schenley is said to roam the Nationality Rooms. The doors to the rooms are locked every night, but Mary likes to rearrange the rooms to her liking every so often, as the daylight staff discovers. Sometimes she'll set a chandelier swinging to announce her presence. She also likes to frequent the Ballroom, which consists of two rooms taken from her childhood home (the Croghan Mansion, built in Stanton Heights in 1820) and transported in their entirety to the Cathedral.
  • Early American Nationality Room: This room is reportedly haunted by the spirit of Martha Jane Poe (yes, she is kin to Edgar Allen, albeit a distant relationship). Several bedroom artifacts of hers are part of the exhibit, kept in an upstairs loft and reachable only through a hidden staircase. Her quilt can be found turned, with impressions in the pillows, as if someone was sleeping there. The aroma of freshly baked bread sometimes fills the room, the custodian watched the baby cradle rock itself one night, and then spotted a black shadow by the bed another evening. A radio station tried to meet Martha by spending the night in the room, but she locked them downstairs first. Not too surprisingly, the curator of the Nationality Room is Martha's granddaughter, Maxine Bruhns, who donated Poe's stuff to the University after her nana's death. She tried to make peace with her grannie by staying in the room overnight, on Martha's wedding anniversary. She got a water bottle tossed at her for her efforts and left, saying “Grandma, you can have this damn room”.  It's thought that Poe's spirit followed her belongings to the room; after all, the bed displayed is the one she died in and is covered by her wedding quilt.
  • But Martha has to share the space. There's also a story of an old German carpenter haunting the same room, in search of his lost wife.  He's thought to be another member of Bruhns' family tree.
  • Lillian Russell Room: 437 William Pitt Union, formerly the Schenley Hotel, is known as the Lillian Russell Room because she lived on the fourth floor while in Pittsburgh. She eventually married a Pittsburgher at the hotel, lived out her remaining years in Point Breeze, and is buried in Homewood Cemetery. Apparently she liked the hotel so much, she decided to stay – forever.
  • Tansky Family Lounge (The Red Room): Located in the William Pitt Union in an area that was once the Schenley Hotel's lobby, this tale features a Russian ballerina. On tour with the National Ballet, the exhausted dancer fell asleep, and dozed right through her performance. The officials replaced her, and she committed suicide in her shame. It's said that if you fall asleep in the room, you will be awakened in time to get to your next appointed task, as the ballerina makes sure that no one else shares her sad fate. (Pitt Magazine "Ghost Walk," Spring 2011)

University Of Pittsburgh Virtual Campus Tour 

All references, unless otherwise noted, are from The Pitt News “Could Your University Be Full Of Spooky Spirits?,” May 12, 2006

PITT – GREENSBURG (Greensburg, Westmoreland County) This Pitt campus began in 1963 when its' first building, Vogel Hall, welcomed the original class into its' halls.

  • Lynch Hall: Lynch Hall was built in 1922 as the home of Commander Charles Lynch's family.  It was acquired by UPG in 1964, and now houses administrative offices. Security guards have allegedly spotted a ghost in the building, with one swearing it's the spirit of Commander Lynch.  Not only does he pull poltergeist pranks, but he's decidedly unhappy about being stuck at home.  Two RAs led a posse of students into the Lynch basement and had a little chat with Commander Lynch via a Ouija board.  He confirmed he was the house spirit, and he was stuck in his old crib, because of, as he put it, "Death."  Well, d'oh.  Oh, Lynch also told the students to "Get Out." (Pittsburgh Tribune Review "G-E-T O-U-T Chases UPG Students" October 31, 2008.)
  • Rossetti Hall: Another legacy of the Lynch family, Rossetti Hall was the home of the Commander's daughter, Mary Quinn. Named for Dr. Guy Rossetti, it's now the admissions office. Strange noises and events have occurred there, credited by some to Mary Quinn.

References taken from The University Times “Reflections On Pitt Greensburg's 40 Years,” November 20, 2003


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