Saturday, May 6, 2017

Bigfoot in Pennsylvania

My new book, Bigfoot in Pennsylvania: A History of Wild-Men, Gorillas, and Other Hairy Monsters in the Keystone State, is available now!

You can get it on or directly from me.

Though the terms “Bigfoot” and “Sasquatch” have only been in our popular vocabulary since the late 1950s, people have been seeing large, bipedal, hairy monsters for as long as we’ve been keeping record. From the myths of early man, to medieval manuscripts, to the earliest newspapers, these creatures make appearances by various names, but their described appearance and behavior seem to suggest Bigfoot has been hiding in the woods beside us for as long as we can remember. 

Old newspaper articles call the creatures “wild men”, “gorillas”, “hairy giants”, “ape-men”, and “spooks” - but the reports describe large, hairy, man-like creatures crying out with unearthly, eerie howls and leaving strange footprints in their wake. Collecting newspaper reports from the 1830s through the 1920s, the articles in this volume show that Bigfoot is not new, nor is it a phenomenon confined to the Northwest United States and Canada. Bigfoot creatures seem to have been roaming Pennsylvania for as long as anyone can remember. Herein are strange tales of wild-women abducting children; frightening wild-men slaughtering livestock; and giant gorillas roaming over the hills of Pennsylvania. Read about huge, bare footprints found in the snow and mud; ape-men attacking humans; and weird, hairy beings creeping across farm, field, and forest.

In other news: If you haven't been following our podcast, Strange Familiars, please check it out. We've got 6 episodes out, and more on the way. Actually, we have a few bonus episodes available as well - to get those, and to help support what we do, check out the Strange Familiars Patreon page. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Strange Familiars Podcast

Sorry for the sparse posting here lately - besides the general rush the of winter holidays, I've started a new project on the paranormal / folklore front:

Strange Familiars podcast will be covering a range of topics from the paranormal, folklore, cryptids, ghosts, and more. We are attempting something different with this podcast - while we will be interviewing guests and the like, our approach is something more akin to audio documentary. We're working on the first episodes now... Hopefully we'll be premiering this month.

So, stay tuned!

I've also been working on my second and third books - both of which require a lot of research. So, I AM writing and working on things relative to Seekers investigations, but nothing that can be published here on the blog just yet.

If you enjoyed Beyond the Seventh Gate I think you will enjoy both The Strange Familiars podcast and my next books.

More soon!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Where Did the Road Go Radio

My appearance on 'Where Did the Road Go' radio discussing my book Beyond the Seventh Gate and other strange things from South Central Pennsylvania ...

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Ghost Roads II: The Yin Yang Skulls

Remaining in York County, our next abandoned/closed/forgotten roads come from Codorus State Park.

Codorus State Park is a 3,500 acre park that encompasses Lake Marburg and its 26 miles of shoreline.     Lake Marburg is not a natural lake, but the result of a paper company damming one branch of Codorus Creek in the 1960s. The result was a huge manmade lake, and an underwater ghost town. The former village of Marburg lies sunken beneath the lake, the ruins sometimes still visible when the water level is low.

Where there was a village, there must have been roads that lead to and from said village, right? Most definitely.

There is an easy hike on a ghost road on the west side of the park.

This relatively straight road is now a wide, well maintained trail. Banks of trees and brush flank each side, with the occasional side trail running in either direction. The occasional rabbit and plenty of birds keep me company along the way. I followed this ghost road until the end and was rewarded with the sight of a fine old Quaker meeting house accompanied by an aged graveyard.

This is the Wildasin Meeting House - built in 1841, though people were being buried here as early as 1782.

A small window in the foundation of the meeting house.

There are some great old tombstones here - very old, hand carved, with German text.

Some years back I found a witch bottle on one of the graves in this cemetery. 

Moving to the southwest side of the park, I went to the location of an old iron furnace. The Mary Ann Furnace was the oldest iron forge west of the Susquehanna River - it was in operation during the Revolutionary War. Here they manufactured cannons, cannon balls, and grapeshot for the Continental Army. The Mary Ann Furnace is no longer standing, and I've yet to locate exactly where it stood - though I have a good idea where to look - but there is a trail here that bears its name. It is worth the time to explore. 

I have, as yet, been unable to find a ghost story or mystery light/UFO sighting in the area of Mary Ann Furnace. I am certain they exist however, as these things seem drawn to these old forges. I have collected bigfoot sightings from close to its location - as well as from the area of the mines east of Codorus State Park, where much of the iron ore for Mary Ann Furnace was obtained. (If you know of any strange tales associated with Mary Ann Furnace or Codorus State Park, please contact me!)

Following the Mary Ann Furnace Trail, I came upon this little ghost road:

A small stretch that disappears quickly into the woods ... Where did it start and where did it end? It's like a fading memory of a road; one last piece slowly being swallowed by the landscape.

On the southeast side, what is now Landis Road dead ends at the park. But if you follow it through the parking lot, it becomes obvious that this road once ran directly through the park. I do not know if it was called Landis Road in the time this road was in use, but now a ghost road extends from the parking area into the woods. 

A short way into the trees there steps on the southwest bank...

These lead to another old cemetery, known variously as Old Wildasin Cemetery and Manheim Union Burial Ground.

Here the tombstones lie broken around a central (newer) monument with the names of all those interred herein. There used to be a church associated with this cemetery, but it too is long gone. 

Down the steps and back onto the ghost road, I followed it out toward the lake.

This road goes through the lake!

I followed the banks of the lake around until I found where the road rose up on the far bank.

The road then makes a turn and heads back into the trees.

The cemetery on the other side is still maintained (mowed, at least) so the road on that side of the lake is still in relatively good condition. Here the road seems to crumble away. It's still there, and it's in far better shape than Toad Road, for example, but nature is taking it back from man. It feels stranger on this side. More lonesome and forgotten. 

I had never followed this road to its end, so I decided to see it through. It was indeed a lonesome hike through this section, a bit eerie as my own footsteps on the fallen leaves were the only sound.

I believe this ghost road dead-ended at this spot. It is hard to tell from the photo, but there is a large mound here. These were sometimes placed on rural roads at dead ends and turnarounds.

As I glanced over the mound, something white caught my eyes. Moving closer, I saw a deer skull. Then I noticed something very strange. Sitting next to this white, sun-bleached skull was another: this one black and weathered. Sister skulls sitting there like some strange yin yang symbol.

This is as I found them:

I began to look around me and soon noticed bones everywhere:

I had walked into some sort of bone pile. I can not say the reason for this. Hunters seems unlikely, for there seems to be bones from multiple animals (mostly deer). Perhaps this is where, long ago, the now-flooded village of Marburg dumped their roadkill? An odd end at the end of an odd road.

On the return hike I followed another ghost road - this one is now but a short side trail off of the road I followed to the bone pile. The DCNR "Road Closed" sign was the most interesting part ... but then again it would be hard to top the yin yang skulls.

I have obtained a 1922 topographical map which shows the roads through the park but, unfortunately, not the names of those roads. Neither does it tell any legends or spook tales associated with the roads or the submerged Marburg village. For those, I will keep searching.

More ghost roads to come...

For the first part of this series click here.

For more tales of ghosts, cryptids, and other strangeness in South Central Pennsylvania, see Beyond the Seventh Gate.

If you have had a strange experience or if you've seen something weird - in South Central Pennsylvania or further abroad - please email and tell me your story.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Beyond Reality Radio

I will be on Beyond Reality Radio Thursday November 10, 2016  a little after midnight (so, technically 11/11 on the East Coast ) discussing my book, Beyond the Seventh Gate and other strange things in South Central Pennsylvania.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Ghost Roads I: Toad Road

When I was on Coast to Coast AM to talk about Beyond the Seventh Gate and other strange things in South Central Pennsylvania, George Noory asked me what is the deal with all of the closed/abandoned roads in the area. I guess I hadn't thought much about it before his question... roads are closed for various reasons... but as George said to me - roads go SOMEWHERE.

When you close a road, you are closing access to something. The act of doing this has symbolic repercussions at the very least. It's no wonder that so many of these roads begin to become associated with spookiness and the paranormal.  I have started to photograph these ghost roads - as I hike them; as they become lost to time, tangled weeds, and twisting branches. Recently, the mysterious Skinwalker Ranch has again been in the news for a public road through the ranch, once closed, has been ordered re-opened. It may not be open for long as lawyers representing the property are acting quickly to close the road.

For now, let's start closer to (my) home with the mysterious Toad Road - a location with so much paranormal activity that I sometimes wonder if it isn't our own Skinwalker Ranch right here in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, almost everything reported about Toad Road ranges from complete fiction to exaggerated urban legend based on scattered and misremembered facts.

I go over all of this with detail in Beyond the Seventh Gate but in short: There was no "insane asylum" or hospital of any sort located on or near Toad Road. So, there are no ruins of said asylum or hospital after it supposedly burned on or near Toad Road. There was no "mad doctor" who kept patients in his "mansion" on or near Toad Road. Toad Road is not "8-9 miles long" as some folks have stated. There are not seven gates to Hell or anywhere else on Toad Road. If you want details and history, read the book please.

What Toad Road does have is many, many witness reports of strange activity - almost none of these reports have anything to do with ghosts of insane asylum victims (though they are attributed to those ghosts because that is the popular story). What people report most often are screams from the woods, being stalked or paced in the woods, black dogs, or dog headed things, orbs and strange lights in the woods, etc... all of these reports sound more like cryptid activity than ghosts and I believe it is cryptid activity which many people experience on Toad Road - and often attribute this strangeness to "ghosts". In the book, I even tell of one newspaper story I found of a man sent to the hospital by a hairy "monster" in the area of Toad Road. I am still collecting stories of any paranormal activity on or near Toad Road - so if you or anyone you know has any stories they would like to tell me, please get in touch.

So, where is Toad Road ... it's a stretch of formerly-public road in York County, PA. Please do not go there - the local property owners do not want people legend-tripping all over their property - you're not going to find any Gates to Hell there - or any abandoned asylums/mansions - and chances are you're not going to run into any cryptids, so leave the place and the local people in peace please.

Toad Road - and there seems to be some disagreement as to whether it was ever officially named Toad Road or it was just a local nickname - but I assert it WAS officially named Toad Road based on my research. I think the Township would rather people forget about the place so even on their official website they state there was no Toad Road. There was - whether it bore the name officially or not it was known as Toad Road to locals. It was a stretch of road that appears on maps as far back as the early 1800s - possibly before. It basically tracked along the Codorus Creek and, at one time (pre-1945) lead to and around Codorus Furnace - a Revolutionary War era iron forge. (for more on cryptids, the paranormal, and iron forges see my earlier post on the subject ... I also have prints of my Codorus Furnace illustration available)

Toad Road pre-1945
Toad Road was a stretch of road which originally connected Trout Run Road and River Farm Road. Pre-1945 Furnace Road stopped at Toad Road - sometime later the roads were changed and Toad Road stopped at Furnace Road - right as it makes a sharp turn at the creek. Actually, pre-1945 all of Trout Run Road, Toad Road and River Farm Road was designated as "T945" on maps - so perhaps it was all Toad Road. It's hard to say. The stretch of Toad Road which is now closed (between Trout Run Rd and Furnace Rd) is only about 1.5-1.75 miles long. The road was closed after Hurricane Agnes in 1972 when it was washed out and never reopened.

If you would walk Toad Road today, you would be greeted at one end by a gate: not a gate to Hell, but an unremarkable gate as such you will find on farms across rural America. In fact, the only remarkable thing about this gate is the number of "No Trespassing" signs posted on it.

The road has been taken back by Nature. Notice the trees across the path/road. There are many, many of these along the way. Some attribute such 'road blocks' to bigfoot creatures.

In places, you can see where the road once was... in others, it is hard to even find the path now.

What once was a road is but a muddy path...

Which makes its way along the banks of the rushing Codorus Creek...

And crosses the Trout Run...

Leading, eventually to some rocks with fading graffiti from long ago.

Besides the " '73" showing the age of the grafitti, this boulder has the remnants of reflective road sign material on the other side - a crumbling caution to pre-1972 drivers.

The path gets thicker with weeds and harder to navigate as you get closer to Furnace Road.

If you don't get lost, you can find your way to Furnace Road, close to Codorus Furnace. Ruins of an old flint mill can be seen along the bank. This section of Furnace Road would have been part of Toad Road pre-1945.

The road then passes Codorus Furnace itself:

Roads do indeed go SOMEWHERE, sowhere did Toad Road lead? It lead to Codorus Furnace, almost certainly. Strangeness follows Codorus Creek (as it does many creeks and rivers) - and strangeness seems drawn to these old iron forges. 

In all my photographs on Toad Road I did find one weird thing. I do not know what it is - pareidolia, or something else? 

More Ghost Roads to come...

For more information on Toad Road see Beyond the Seventh Gate.

Click here for part two of the Ghost Roads series.

If you have had a strange experience or if you've seen something weird - in South Central Pennsylvania or further abroad - please email.