February 12, 2024

The Death Shout: A legend from the Pennsylvania Wilds

A legend in the PA Wilds says that when a Native American warrior was killed in battle, he would cry out a “Death Shout” which was heard in the afterlife and warned his predeceased friends that he was coming. Writer Lou Bernard shares the story of the Death Shout as told by Henry Wharton Shoemaker, a Clinton County writer and folklorist. Shoemaker wrote, “There were many strange stories clustered around the ‘Death Shout,’ some of them beautiful, others painfully sad.”

January 8, 2024

A short First Day Hike in Lock Haven

When we were first married, my wife and I used to traditionally take First Day hikes on January first, every year. Then we had a kid. We adopted my son, Paul Matthew, in 2014. I love being a parent, but I have to say that there is nothing like a baby to keep you in the house. They’re like an ankle monitor that you have to feed. However, Paul is nine now. And I enjoy doing things with him, so this year I brought up the idea of getting back into the First Day Hikes.

December 5, 2023

Santa Claus in Tioga County

There have been a lot of important people from the PA Wilds. Several governors grew up in this part of the state, for instance. And plenty of important people have visited the area. And in one notable year, this included Santa Claus. And he visited a boy who would grow up to become the governor.

November 16, 2023

The unique I-80 Frontier

Most people don’t notice this, but the I-80 Frontier is the only PA Wilds landscape named after a man-made landmark. All of the others are named after natural things: forest land, animals, or in one case, just darkness. Sure, they try to fool you with the “frontier” part, but it’s named for Interstate 80, which travels all the way across the PA Wilds. To reach a lot of places in the PA Wilds, you pretty much have to start by getting on 80.

October 30, 2023

Ghosts of the PA Wilds: The Flatwoods Monster visits Elk Country

The Flatwoods Monster is not the easiest creature to categorize. Is it a cryptid? Is it an alien? Nobody’s sure. It was seen in Braxton, West Virginia on September 12, 1952. But the Flatwoods Monster made a quick appearance in the Pennsylvania Wilds, too. The headline hit the front page of the Renovo Daily Record on September 15, 1952: “Drurys Run Folks Spot Flying Saucer.”

October 23, 2023

Ghosts of the PA Wilds: Haunted cemeteries in Cook Forest

There are legends of haunted cemeteries in Cook Forest. There’s at least one. I am speaking here of Crybaby Cemetery, in the southern part of the Cook Forest and the Ancients landscape of the PA Wilds. The cemetery is said to be one of the most haunted spots in Clarion County. Visitors describe the sensation of being watched, and people passing by mention hearing the sound of children crying in the night, particularly on a full moon.

October 16, 2023

Ghosts of the PA Wilds: Dark skies and headless ghosts

A lot of ghost stories come about through old legends, handed down through the generations. Some are further documented, with a certain amount of proof in the form of paperwork - obituaries, newspaper articles, and so on. And in the Dark Skies landscape of the PA Wilds, there’s a ghost that’s both. This one has old legends and modern documentation. What it doesn’t have is a head.

October 9, 2023

Ghosts of the PA Wilds: Hanging Around in Wellsboro

The Hanging Tree is a tall elm that stands just outside the Tioga County Courthouse, in the Pine Creek Valley and the PA Grand Canyon landscape of the PA Wilds. People say that it’s haunted, because it was used to hang criminals back in the 1800s. It sits on Main Steet, just across from the Green. Is there any truth to the story? Most of the citizens of Wellsboro say there is not, at least not as far as the Hanging Tree is concerned.

October 2, 2023

Ghosts of the PA Wilds: Underground ghosts in the I-80 Frontier

Let’s face it - cemeteries are spooky places. It’s creepy and scary, and perfect for Halloween. But in the I-80 Frontier landscape of the PA Wilds, there’s one neighborhood where it’s not necessary to create a cemetery - it’s already there. In Lock Haven, the county seat of Clinton County, along the south side of Bellefonte Avenue, there’s a neighborhood where there was once a cemetery. And, in spite of what people think, some of it is still there.

August 21, 2023

The legend of the Sulphur Serpent

It’s no secret that the Pennsylvania Wilds is full of cryptids. In addition to Bigfoot sightings, there are the local ones: the Giwoggle of Clinton County, the Susquehanna Seal, the Potter Nondescript, and the Clarion What-Is-It. It’s always fun to hear about these mysterious monsters in the woods. There’s a legend of another one, this one in the I-80 Frontier landscape of the PA Wilds. Near Sugar Valley, in southern Clinton County, there’s an old legend of a sort of reptile monster that shows up when a comet is passing: The Sulphur Serpent.