The Tamarack Swamp is located near Corry in Warren County on its PA side and stretches north to Clymer, New York. It was originally a logging and gas drilling area; now it seems to mostly be the home of high school keggers, frackers searching for gas that the original drillers left behind, and insect-chomping Venus Flytrap plants. But it's also the origin of the legend of George. Here's the story...
There's a ribbon of a lane that winds through the swamp. One day two school buses tried to pass one another in opposite directions. The road was too narrow, and the vehicles bumped and splashed into the Tamarack. According to local lore, several-to-many of the kiddies lost their lives in the accident.
After the crash, one the drivers - yep, George - returned to the scene of the fatal wreck, and filled with remorse, hanged himself off one of the three bridges that spanned the road.
Legend has it that if you drive over the northernmost bridge and chant "GEORGE, GEORGE, GEORGE," you'll hear thrashing under the bridge from the driver's tormented spirit. It's also claimed that you'll hear the voices of small children out in the swamp and your car will be covered with their little handprints. To make the adventure even dicier, cars were said to stall on the bridge, making them easy prey for George.
A popular game among the area youth is to dare one other to get out of the car, run down the dark road, and make it back to the car before George tears them to pieces. In fact, the footrace with George is pretty much the only game in town now. The state closed that trail and the bridges to vehicles, making it accessible only to foot traffic like hikers and swamp scientists.
Some people reported that the rusting hulks of the buses still remain, but what they saw are actually the remnants of a couple of old campers parked out in the swamp. There's also an unsubstantiated tale alleging that a small town once existed there, but sank in the swamp. That tale claimed that apparitions and the sounds of former residents float throughout the bog.
One of our visitors, Morgana, who grew up in the area, provided us with the basis for George's story. "I did hear the tale and lore of a school bus that wrecked on the bridge leading into the swamp from the Clymer side near Caflisch Lumber Company. The driver, as the story goes, was found hanging from the bridge.
She added more logs to the fire, too, writing that "...I recall as a child hearing the stories of the reddish orange glowing apparition that held his head in his hand. I also heard the tale that the water under the second (and now collapsed) bridge didn't have a bottom and if you stared at it long enough you'd fall in," and H&H would assume resurface floating in the China Sea.
Other suggest that the glow could be from the phosphorus content of the swamp, and the bottomless water could be the quicksand pools or bogs. On the other hand...
Another thing that remains unexplained is the UFO sightings reported by swamp visitors. The Tamarack appears to be an intergalactic tourist trap, too.
So if you're around the state parkland, stop by and see if George is under his bridge or if a UFO is hovering. Maybe a headless orange blob will come callin', or you'll be lured by the depths of the swamp. And hey, if not, maybe you'll at least get to see a swamp mosquito or two become a snack for the Tamarack flora.
(And thanks for the comments. It's a wild and wet area, but still popular and well-used by the locals, many of whom have memories of adventures there dating back to childhood, George or no.)