Hauntings at Allegany State Park recalled
RED HOUSE — “Come along if you care, come along if you dare.” This was the spooky and enticing title of Bob Schmid’s presentation at the Allegany State Park Historical Society’s October meeting.
Schmid, a historian and member of the historical society, recounted ghost stories of Allegany State Park as told to him by many people over the years. He experienced a few firsthand.
“These are not your typical ‘around the campfire’ ghost stories,” he said. “They are actual stories from various occurrences that have happened to normal, rational people while at Allegany State Park.”
Schmid set the mood with a story he heard from several different people who were driving on ASP 1. In each case, they were traveling from Quaker to Red House during the witching hour, around 4 a.m.
“One person had a little dog riding in the back seat as he drove over the mountain. All of a sudden, the dog started growling and staring at the passenger seat,” he said. “The man looked over and there was a Native American man sitting in the seat, staring straight ahead. By the time he got to Red House, the man was gone. Another person told me the same story, minus the dog.”
A COUPLE OF people say they have seen a little girl playing around Cabin No. 2 at Stony Cabin Trail, on the Quaker side, and she doesn’t seem to belong to anyone. Schmid said it’s strange how several people have seen this child who is seemingly there and when they get closer, she’s just gone.
SCHMID REMEMBERS A strange occurrence about 10 years when he was at the Quaker Museum. He said a man came in and asked if anything weird ever happened to people in the area. This man had been hunting in the Rice Brook area that fall, which is in the Thunder Rocks/New Ireland area. At about 6 a.m., he was sitting on a log with his shotgun in hand when, all of a sudden, a woman walked by dressed in a white gown and bonnet from the 1800s. The woman was there and as she walked away, she vanished.
ACCORDING TO SCHMID, the Pennsylvania Railroad had a stop at Crick’s Run many years ago. A strange incident happened when a flagman and a conductor stopped the train below Witches Walk and suddenly disappeared. The train was abandoned on the spot and nobody has seen them since.
OVER THE YEARS, Schmid has talked to more and more people who have experienced an apparition called “the flannel man.” The ghost has been seen many times, mostly at a field across from the Quaker rental office, referred to as the athletic field.
“Back when the tennis courts were there, people would often see this guy in a flannel shirt walking out of the woods,” he said. “He was kind of tall and thin with a scraggly beard and wore a flannel shirt and jeans. What’s so odd is, he appears and then he’s gone.”
One time, a group of families staying on Brown Trail went to the field to stargaze. As they were shining their flashlights, they saw this ghost in the flannel shirt, but when they aimed the flashlights back again, he wasn’t there.
Schmid remembers a “flannel man” incident, back in the mid-‘80s, when he and his wife were camping at the park. They were sitting around the campfire around 2 a.m. when they decided to go for a ride to Quaker Lake. Schmid said as they drove along in the pitch-black darkness, this man suddenly appeared and was standing on the shoulder at the end of the road.
“I quickly turned the car around and got the deer spotter to take a look, but he wasn’t there. It was just creepy and weird,” he said.
Another sighting happened to a family on their way back from Bradford, Pa., along ASP 3. When they got near Science Lake, they saw this guy walking along the side of the road. As their car got closer they could see him; when they passed him, he was gone.
But it gets stranger. According to Schmid, the same family drove a couple of miles farther down the road and the same guy was there walking down the road ahead of them — then disappeared.
Schmid’s daughter and a family friend also witnessed “the flannel man” one October while staying at Group Camp No. 5. It was a cold, sunny afternoon and the women decided to go for a walk along Quaker Run Creek. All of a sudden, they spotted a man standing in the creek. As they continued walking, they thought it was odd that a man would be standing in the creek in mid-October. Again — after they passed the guy, he was gone.
While camping on Ward Cabin Trail, Schmid and some friends also saw this elusive apparition. He said they drove over to Diehl Trail after dinner and as they were approaching Diehl, some kids were playing baseball in an open field. That was when they saw the guy crouched down with his elbows on his knees, watching the kids play, which they thought was odd and a little suspicious. Schmid said when they got within 15 feet of him, he looked at the car, sprang up and started running in a zigzag path. In a matter of seconds, he was gone.
Schmid said “the flannel man” was last seen in the park four or five years ago and he wonders if this ghost is from a killing at a lumber camp in 1908. The camp was located in the area of the Quaker athletic field behind the tennis courts, back in the woods.
"WITCHES' WALK" IS perhaps one of the eeriest places in the park. To the Seneca, it’s a very supernatural area called Ga’hai (GUH-high). The mysterious mountaintop area is located along the Allegheny River between Bay State and Route 280, heading into the Quaker side of the park.
Schmid said many strange occurrences have taken place at Ga’hai. People have said it makes the hair stand up on the back of their neck and chills run up and down their spine. There are stories that witches once lived up there on top of the hill. He said one of the oddities people have supposedly seen, and a lot of Senecas believe are up there, are half human and half animal creatures, like half human and half deer.
A Seneca man once told Schmid about a strange occurrence he and a friend experienced while hunting one day up on Ga’hai Hill. They started walking up the hill and as they got higher, they could hear drums. The higher up the mountain they went, the louder the drums got. The two men got scared, did an about-face and came back down the mountain. When they got to the bottom, there was nothing. Schmid said a lot of people have reported hearing drums.
OVER THE YEARS, many people claim to have seen ghostly orbs that appear as lights in the distance up on Witches’ Walk. Schmid said the late George Heron, former president of the Seneca Nation of Indians, told him a story about some Confederate soldiers that deserted and buried a lot of Confederate money or gold up on Ga’hai Hill.
“As the story goes, they came up Ga’hai Hill and one soldier said they should bury the money and come back after the war was over, get the money and be rich men,” he said. “Starting from a certain point, the guy that buried the money lit up his pipe and walked a distance until the tobacco was gone. That’s where he buried the money and the soldiers went on their way.”
Years later when the soldiers came back to look for the money they couldn’t find it. They tried retracing their steps over and over, but eventually they all died. Many people think when they see orbs swinging back and forth up on Ga’hai Hill late at night, it’s the ghosts of the soldiers up on the hill with their lanterns.
OTHER PARANORMAL PHENOMENA have generated from the area between Thunder Rocks and Limestone, known as the New Ireland settlement. Schmid said 12 Irish immigrant families from County Claire, Ireland, inhabited location from approximately 1851 to 1931.
“It’s a very fascinating place and if people go there, especially when the leaves are off the trees, the foundations of a lot of the buildings are still visible,” he said.
Schmid said one of the inhabitants was a young woman by the name of Catherine McCarty whose family had a house in New Ireland. One of the beams broke, fell, hit her in the head and she died. A lot of people get an eerie feeling and sense her ghost when they go back there.
“I know of a couple who visited the New Ireland settlement and when they were checking out one of the structures, the woman felt the palm of a hand on her back and it shoved her, making her fall forward and bump her head,” he said. “She thought her husband was pulling a prank, but when she looked for him, he was on the other side of the house foundation. It’s another one of those weird, strange things and it was at the house of Catherine McCarty.”
ANOTHER STRANGE AND interesting story was relayed to Schmid by a very trustworthy person, he said. Two women were horseback riding in the New Ireland/Limestone area when all of a sudden one woman stopped, got off her horse and went over to a rock and began sobbing uncontrollably. Finally, she stopped and her friend asked what was wrong. She said “I don’t know what it was, but something drew me off my horse and I started sobbing. I can’t explain it.”
A couple of weeks later, the women were out riding again and she experienced the same thing. They rode by, something drew her off her horse and she began crying again. Schmid said it happened to be near the home of Catherine McCarty.
HE SAID PEOPLE have also seen a nicely dressed man walking back and forth across the road ahead of them, in that vicinity. By the time they approach this mysterious man, he’s gone.
Schmid said, “Allegany State Park holds many interesting stories, but these sightings kind of make you wonder.”
(This story appears in the Oct. 29, 2015 edition of The Salamanca Press by Deb Everts.)