Beanery Online Literary Magazine

March 24, 2010

Southwest “Paranormal” Pennsylvania



Will Patterson

      Do you like it when things go bump in the night? Do spirits make you lose your bladder control? Do you much prefer Happy Hour to The Witching Hour? If you answered in the affirmative to any of these questions this may not be the article for you. If, on the other hand, you enjoy investigating the unexplained and a little tingle in your spine, read on.

     It is not only the mentally disturbed or people who have had one too many who say that they have seen very suspicious, perhaps even supernatural goings on. Many such sightings have been made by pragmatic and analytical people who actually did not believe in such phenomena until it occurred before their own eyes. Seeing is believing—so they say.

     It is strange, but at the same time interesting, that these realists do not believe in such activity until they experience it for themselves; because the laws of physics are straight forward about such things.

     The Law of Conservation of Energy states that: “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only changed in its form.” Our bodies are full of mechanical energy, chemical energy, and electrical energy. This simple law of physics says that these energy forms cannot be destroyed, (when we die), but have to live on in one form, or another.

     Many times we get our impressions of the paranormal from movies that show ghosts in castles or in ghost towns of the Southwestern United States. Don’t count out Southwestern Pennsylvania though, because we have our own fine tradition of poltergeist, ghosties, and ghoulies right in our own back yard. 

     There are just too many of them to list them all, so some of the more well known will be examined and you will be left with a list of web sites that amateur ghost hunters can examine to find new territory to explore.

     Over the years, workers and others have heard the sounds of footsteps, have seen books remove themselves from the shelves, as well as other kinesthetic phenomenon in the Ligonier Public Library; where there have also been actual sightings. Thus, in 2007, one year before the Ligonier Public Library celebrated its centennial, who did they decide to call? The Ghost Busters? No—another group of professionals, The Fort Wayne Ghost Trackers. They were invited to come with all of their instrumentation to see if they could find any cold, hard, scientific evidence to substantiate the paranormal events that workers and library patrons had experienced through the years. At that time, the Ligonier Public Library was one of very few Carnegie Libraries that was not only still standing, but still being used as a library. When the team of trackers, with all of their telemetry, came to town in an attempt to ascertain if the administration, staff, and avid readers at the library actually did have an unseen companion or companions, they were totally circumspect about their job. After all the measuring was done, and all tabulations made, the team from Fort Wayne had apparently been successful. Their devices found unexplainable cold spots, electromagnetic variations, and pictures on the wall that contained bright orbs unable to be seen by the naked eye; all signs of paranormal activity. So, the next time you visit the Ligonier Public Library, if you think you heard something, take a second look over your shoulder because you probably did.

     Traveling down the road just a few miles west of Ligonier is St.Vincent College; an excellent place to get a college education and also a hotbed of paranormal activity.

It is said that Abbott Boniface Wimmer, the school’s founder, returns to the school each year on the anniversary of his death. He walks around the campus and observes the changes the school has gone through. Phyllis Riddle, a Sociology professor at the college, has compiled campus legends. She states, “Before he died on December 8 in 1881, he also told the monks that he wanted to remain with the campus to oversee its growth.” He probably has quite a smile on his face, for each successive year the college grows by leaps and bounds.

     There are many graves in the cemeteries around the school. One is the grave of a child who died in the early part of the 20th century. Very near to the grave is the stump of a tree perhaps six or seven feet tall that has been cut to make it look like a large chair or throne. There have been many claims that a small ghost has been seen sitting on that chair. There are many other tales of ghostly happenings at the college.

     Moving along the paranormal trail to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus, where there are more ghostly goings on.

     Sutton Hall on the I.U.P. campus was built in 1875, and is a very beautiful piece of architecture. If you have ever had the opportunity to visit this building you will understand why it must be included in any discussion of local paranormality.

     Walking through the halls one might expect to see something walking through the walls; one can literally feel the energy that is bound up inside the building. It is said that sometimes at midnight a figure can be seen in the bell tower of Sutton Hall. More than one professor has said that they have seen a man wearing a top hat walking the halls. The fourth floor is said to have the most activity, ranging from feelings of uneasiness to disembodied voices.

     Several other places on the campus are said to have supernatural occurrences, but I can vouch for Sutton Hall, having been an I. U. P. student. Although I never saw or heard anything specific, there was always a tremendous feeling of uneasiness and eeriness—psychic energy, if you will—in that building. Whenever I had an appointment in Sutton Hall I was sure I would see something or hear something of a spectral nature. Unfortunately I never did. It was almost like they were there walking with you, but you just couldn’t see them. Finally, there is nothing better than the real experience: as I said before, seeing is most definitely believing.

     When I was young, my grandparents lived near Tarentum, on the Allegheny River. One day my sister and I—I was seven and she was five—were playing in the finished attic of our grandparents home. We turned to go down the stairs. Right there before our eyes there was a full torso, a glowing white apparition of an old woman. We must have been too young to be afraid because we just stood and looked in amazement. Then, as we moved toward the phantasm, it disappeared. We hurried downstairs to tell our parents and grandparents about this exciting event.

     As we detailed our experience the adults smiled and nodded their heads as adults do when youngsters tell stories that seem to be implausible, or even impossible, to believe. That is, until I started to describe the apron that the lady had been wearing. The color drained from their faces as I described in perfect detail an apron that had belonged to my great grandmother; an apron that I had never seen.


Another Testimonial from a woman in Blairsville

     When I was about 11 years old I saw the spirits of children playing in the woods about a quarter mile behind our old house. I wasn’t frightened at first more curious than anything until I realized that I could see through them. Then I got on my bike and got the heck up out of there. The area that I saw the children playing was about a mile up the hill, in the woods behind the old bridge leading into Blairsville, the old bridge that crosses the Conemaugh river. It’s been over 20 years since I’ve been back to Blairsville, but I will never forget the children in the woods.
Submitted by Brandensmama
     Well, now I’ve gotten you spook hunters started. Here are some links that should be helpful to all you ghost hunters here in haunted Southwest PA. You will have to look and decide for yourself. Good hunting.




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Two Haikus: A Summer Day & Night Sky



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