Sunday, October 21, 2007

The White Lady of Wopsononock Mountain

(image from Pennsylvania Mountains of Attraction)

We head east today, towards the Blair and Bedford county lines and Wopsononock Mountain, for this classic resurrection legend. The tales - there are several versions - all start with a young couple heading along a narrow, twisting mountain road on their way to the Wopsy Hotel (Wopsy is the local shorthand) atop the peak.

To give you an idea of the age and duration of this story, the resort hotel burned down in 1903 and was never rebuilt. In one version, they crash and the husband is decapitated. In another, they both lose their lives. In yet another, a baby is thrown out of a carriage in the accident and dies. In some tales, they're eloping and being pursued by the bride's irate father. In version five, the ghost roams the adjoining Buckhorn Mountain.

The story is so wrapped in the mists of time that while a few people say they were in a car, most believe that they rode a buggy or carriage. At any rate, their fates converge at Devil's Elbow, a nasty curve on the mountain road, where they meet their destinies.

Thus begins the Lady In White legend. She's been spotted many times by the woods of Wopsy Mountain roaming the road, dressed in a long flowing white gown. She's usually seen carrying a candle or a lantern, out searching for someone - child, hubby, dad, whomever.

Many people have stopped and given her a ride. She's described by these kindly souls as beautiful, smiling, and quiet. Oddly, when they glance into their rear view mirror, they can't see her. But when they turn to check on her, she's still sitting serenely in the back seat. And once they reach Devil's Elbow, she disappears. This has been reported many times over the years, and this tale has passed from the realm of folklore to local gospel, much like South Park's Green Man.

The old hotel is now a lover's lane with a famed historic lookout (you guessed it, Wopsy Lookout, a remnant from the old hotel) where you can see 6 different counties when it's clear outside. There's a couple of tales involved with that, too.

First, there have reportedly been multiple suicides there from spurned lovers taking the leap. That's always fodder for a spook tale or two. The other is that if you park there on a clear, dark night, the streetlights below will spell out “Altoona.” I'd really be impressed if they spelled out "Wopsononock."

If you want to take the trip, the mountain road is now called Juniata Gap Road (known locally as Wopsy Road), and runs up the mountain from Altoona. If you're approaching from the opposite direction, we believe the route is along Colonial Drake Highway (known locally as Buckhorn Road), which leads over Buckhorn Mountain and up Wopsy from the other side. Drive carefully.


jwh051 said...

Is there any concrete information on the White Lady of Wopsy? I would think that such a tragedy would have been reported in the local papers, such as names, dates, etc. Most legends have a kernal of truth. BTW, I have a couple of pix I THINK were taken of the part of the road which was bypassed when the road was straightened out, and was known as Devil's Elbow. To whom could I send them for confirmation?

Anonymous said...

jhw051 regarding the pics...Yoda you seek she can help you if anyone can