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Local folklore rings in ‘SpooktOber

"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before." ~ Edgar Allen Poe


By Tara Yilmaz

Pittsburgh has its fair share of almost everything; famous people, bridges, championships, great restaurants, and breathtaking views. But little do many people know that Pittsburgh also has its fair share of urban legends. Like the Mothman in Mt.Pleasant, West Virginia, Pittsburgh has tales of The Green Man, Blue Mist Road, B-52 Bomber, and many more. So ‘tis the season to be frightened, because for the month of “SpooktOber” we’ll lurk into the unknown and explore tales from around the world and home.

→ Did you know in Switzerland there’s a legend called The Death of the Seven Dwarves? This tale doesn’t resemble the 1937 Walt Disney film nor the 19th-century fairytale by the Brothers Grimm. It’s folklore with an unfortunate, sinister ending. In the legend, seven dwarves lived together in a quaint home in the Black Forest. There were seven beds for seven dwarves and not much room for more. Late one evening when the dwarves turned in for the night, a lost, hungry peasant girl stumbled onto their home and asked for food and shelter.

After debating amongst each other and with natural trepidation, the oldest dwarf agreed to let the peasant girl sleep in his bed. Before the dwarves and the girl could close their eyes for a wink and snooze, a woman appeared before their house, knocked on the door, and demanded to be let in.

The girl voluntarily and poorly explained that there were only seven beds to sleep in and no more room for anyone else. Convinced immoral behavior was occurring in the home, the woman returned with men from the village and the dwarves met an untimely demise. In 1856, Swiss historian and folklorist Ernst Ludwig Rochholz published this folklore in his book Swiss Tales from the Aargau, vol. 1. No doubt leaving readers afraid of ever lending a helping hand to strangers.

→ Did you know the University of Pittsburgh is home to a haunted banquet hall? On Pitt’s campus, 1201 Bruce Hall is said to be haunted by two female ghosts.

Through the years, workers have made claims of paranormal activity. Relatively harmless incidents of moving objects, cold spots, and things that go bump in the night managed to frighten workers and visitors. As recounted on the University of Pittsburgh website, people have reported the fireplace in the room reignited itself with no earthly hand striking a match and napkins on the banquet table unfolded themselves.

→ Did you know in Lake Hope State Park in McArthur, Ohio they tell the tale of the Ghostly Watchman?

They say a lonely watchman still shows up for work on dark and stormy evenings at the decaying furnace located inside the park.

The furnace was in operation from 1854 to 1874 when the Industrial Revolution was at its peak. There are many versions of the Watchman story. One of the most popular takes is that the Watchman was determined to make his rounds on that stormy night and had no patience to wait for the rain to pass over. With each stop, lightning inched closer to him. By the time he reached the furnace, lightning struck him and caused him to fall in with his lantern.

Locals say on stormy nights they can still see the ghostly Watchman carrying his lantern at Lake Hope Furnace. Maybe the Watchman is a dedicated employee. Or maybe he didn’t accrue enough paid time off (PTO) to rest in peace.

Whether tales of ghouls, goblins, and ghosts from Dublin, Ireland to the Monongahela Incline, you can find urban legends, folklores, or fairytales based in any city or neighborhood. There is no escaping tales of ghostly figures or haunted mansions like The Congelier House.

So, if you find yourself suffering from phasmophobia (fear of ghosts) look on the bright side, at least you are in good company. And if you don’t, remember, there are always UFOs to ponder.



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