McConnell's Mill from The Allegheny Front
Located in Lawrence County, McConnell's Mill State Park's 2,546 acres are claimed to be one of Pennsylvania's more heavily haunted areas. It's home to sheer cliffs and the swiftly flowing Slippery Rock Creek, and many outdoor enthusiasts have lost their lives rappelling or riding the white water.
And if sudden death isn't enough to ramp up some bad juju, there are also some long time spirits associated with the park.
One is a worker who was killed when the machinery at McConnell's Mill (a grist mill that was in operation from 1852-1928) acted up. He still walks the same path to and from work as he did when he was alive, more or less a century ago.
It's claimed that if you get there at the right time, you can see him walk along the path with his lunch bucket, go into the mill, turn the lights on, and then scream as he relives that fateful day.
There's also the tale of caretaker Moses Whorton, who died at the turn of the century and still patrols MM, chasing poorly-behaving visitors away from the parkland he loved and protected during his life. A freed slave, he lived in the park in a cottage by the mill, back when Thomas McConnell still owned the land.
He stayed there for three decades, beginning in 1880, and it was the only home he knew since he was 20. It's said that if he's needed, a honk of a car horn by the old mill will bring him back.
It doesn't eeven take that much sometimes, said Butler County story-teller Jim Clements, who told Susan Seibel of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette "...in the dead of night, a honk of a car horn will summon Whorton. But the horn of one car was broken, so one of the boys rolled down a window and yelled, "Honk!" into the dark, causing his companions to dissolve with laughter. Their laughter caught in their throats, though, as a gray figure materialized and walked toward the car from the direction of where the miller's house once stood, the boys said. The figure hoisted a club or bat, ready to defend the mill once more."
"That was enough for the boys," Clements said. "The driver slammed the car into gear and made a frantic escape."
Another bit of lore involves a young girl who died in an accident at the McConnell's Mill Covered Bridge (built in 1874) by the mill. If you park on the bridge, turn off your lights and honk your car horn three times, her vision will appear in your rear view mirror. When you turn around to see her, she's gone. (BTW, H&H strongly recommends against sitting in the middle of a covered bridge at night with the lights off, unless you're looking to join the restless departed).
Hell's Hollow - what a great name - is the site of a long ago kiln built near a small waterfall, and is also said to host some spirit visitors.
However, bummer though it may be, it appears that all of the old park's tales are mere urban legends. A variety of paranormal hunters have dragged their recorders and vids into the woodlands and returned with nary an orb.
But hey, if you're ever stomping through McConnell's Mill and spot Moses, the old mill hand, or a little girl in your rear view mirror, give us yell. One reader has said she has gotten orb photos from the mill. So maybe these stories aren't entirely folk legends...