Monday, January 17, 2011

McConnell's Mill State Park

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 " 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...


Anonymous said...

I've never heard of any haunts at McConnells mill and I had never gone there... I took a friend and went there. We saw the kiln, had no idea it was even going to be out there, so I took pictures. I got home and realized there is a white smoke coming out of the kiln in 2 of my pictures that was NOT seen in person when we were there. Also, I took off my clothes to get a shower and found scratches on my stomach that look demonic. I also captured about 3 pictures with orbes in them but not from hells hollow... Like I said, I had never heard rumors before but I believe there is something paranormal there... because I lived it.

Anonymous said...

We just visited the mill this past weekend and although we have been going there for years, we have never heard of the stories. We also never took pictures of inside the mill before. On this occasion, we took 2 separate pictures from different cameras and both have what looks like an orb in almost the same spots. The room on the middle floor, where the large tree cutting is. The possible orb was located on the Triumph sign hanging on the wall. In each picture it is slightly different than the other. The other orb was located right outside that room, up towards the ceiling in the corner.

Anonymous said...

We were just there last night as adventrous teenagers and was sitting at the pinic area above the covered bridge. We started hearing faint screams, and started get louder and more often. We left the pinic area and went see where it was coming from. As we went toward the bridge it kept getting louder and louder, but then less often again . We got to the bridge and the light was on in the mill house, being from the area and knowing the place has no electric it was werid seeing the light on..but the screams for help stopped.. after about 15 mins of the screams it kept getting more and more faint, and then nothing. I was really werid knowing ive been there dozens of times at night and not once has that light been on. It was freaky.

Anonymous said...

No, these stories are all bull. I used to live in the trailer court that's practically IN McConnell's Mills/Moraine State Park. My friends and I used to get drunk and walk all around that area (the mill, the covered bridge, the roads, Breakneck Bridge, Hell's Hollow, etc.) in the middle of the night and we never once saw anything. We pretty much covered the entire area in one summer. Those orbs you're all talking about? Those are common with digital cameras. Orbs are nothing but dust floating around in the air. And those scratches on your stomach are from the tree branches and bushes you walked through to get to Hell's Hollow. Moraine State Park has no ghosts, you didn't "live" anything.

Unknown said...

My friends and I were there last night , April 23,2017 . We went bc of a story we heard about the covered bridge & mind you I have brand new vehicle . We stopped on the bridge & in no way did I want the car turned off , but we parked & a friend of mine turned off my car ( as a prank ) & then we got scared & tried to turn my car back on & it wouldn't start. Eight times we tried to start it & finally after a miracle it started back up & he high tailed it out of there ! No woman was seen, but we also didn't look behind us . Once I read the story about the girl , I literally started crying and got chills .

Anonymous said...

My father grew up living in Portersville, Pa not too far from the mill. Our family actually owns a piece of land in the park. As a kid he would always take us there at night ghost hunting, and doing the covered bridge nothing ever happened though. Last summer two friends and I decided to go ghost hunting late at night in the area we did the bridge nothing happened, and also some cemetery's around. It wasn't until we went up to the mill. At first we put our ears up to the door, the one with the path leading through the grass on the side right by where you park by the covered bridge. We had our ears on the door and knocked, we instantly heard a knock back from the other side of the door. It was the most chilling feeling I've ever experienced at the mill. I ran without even thinking about my friends, but clearly they heard the same thing because we were all running back to the car. Before we left we tried seeing if there was any movement up above but there was only a light on.