March 8, 2010

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and Dixon's

Yesterday, Andy and I went on a day trip. We normally go on day trips in the summer because we both work and find it hard to find time to take long trips. We usually pack a picnic lunch and some snacks and have a fun day singing together in the car until we get there, and then taking photographs and enjoying a good walk. Today was such a nice day that we drove out to Dixon's Muzzleloading Shop to look at all of the neat stuff they always have in there and we went out to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. It was such a nice day out; we didn't even have to wear heavy coats! Despite this fact, when we got to Hawk Mountain, there was still at least six inches of snow still on the mountain top.

The route to Hawk Mountain is a scenic one of dense woods and large open fields. It is dotted with creeks, wildlife and old barns with bright "hex signs" touting their Pennsylvania Dutch roots. The mountainside was slippery and hiking though snow made it a little more difficult than it normally is to hike up there. There were still lots of other people hiking there too.

The mountain itself has a lot of well kept secrets and historical folklore.  

Warning: Do not read the rest of this post if you do not like ghost stories, or if you are going to be home alone tonight and don't feel like being spooked out all night. :D 

One spooky folk story surrounds Schaumboch's Tavern on Hawk Mountain Road. The Gerhardt family, were among the first non-native settlers of the mountain. In February 1756, members of the Lenni Lenape Native American tribe, who inhabited the mountain, destroyed the Gerhardt house killing a man, two women and six children after destroying another house nearby. Jacob Gerhardt, only eleven years old when the Native Americans attacked, ran during the attack and managed to survive. The Pennsylvania Gazette at the time reported that the Leni Lenape took scalps from the fallen. A record of this incident from 1844 can be read here. Jacob Gerhardt, returned to the mountain and built the house that is now known as Schaumboch's Tavern. 

Jacob eventually rented the house out to Mathias Schaumboch (also spelled Matthias Schaumbacher,) who lived in the house with his wife in the mid-1800s. They rented rooms out for a living and were not very popular with locals and many people who did stay in the house relayed horror stories to the townspeople, if they were ever seen again. Many people reportedly disappeared after renting from him. The townspeople, who always suspected foul play, became very suspicious of his business when he started selling army surplus, left over from the Civil War, after a peddler selling the same goods lodged there and was never seen again. On his deathbed in 1879, Schaumboch admitted to killing and robbing more than 11 people and burying them in the land around the house. He stated that he stopped counting the number of victims when the skulls stopped fitting into the well on his property. He claimed to have murdered them with an axe, cut their flesh off of them,then let their bodies lay out in the woods to be picked clean by animals.  Local lore states that he " claimed that the deeds were not his own, but that they were caused by a great evil that lives on the mountain that whispered to him constantly, urging him to murder, even while he slept, (Delco Ghosts.) I have tried to verify the Mathias Schaumboch claims and the closest I could come is this modern newspaper article: The Morning Call. Apparently, Mathias' wife was a very nice lady who was well liked by everyone who met her. 

Later in 1890, a man named Mathias Berger, who was known to be a devout Catholic, lived as a hermit in a mud hut on the mountain slope. He was known to live very simply, by living off of the naturally growing food in the forest and by gathering water from a spring, half a mile from his house. He only would go into town a few times a year to buy supplies and attend church. He went missing and a search party was sent up to look for him. He was found robbed and beaten to death. The murderer was not found.      

With all of that gruesome history you can bet that there are lots of reported ghost sightings on the mountain.(Although, there are also UFO and Bigfoot sightings there too :D) I've camped on the mountain as a child and even went for a night time hike with my girl scout troop. We didn't see anything nor did any of us experience any of the things reported. The scenery is beautiful I have never had a bad time there. Oh, and the tavern mentioned above is someone's home now, so I don't think they'd appreciate people snooping in their yard. It is by the road and worth a drive by. I hear it is open to the public around Halloween.   


  1. Interesting stories! What a great blog you have here. I've never been to PA, but the landscape from Hawk Mountain looks like it could be here in Western NC. Keep up the fine work!

  2. Thank you so much. I've only been to North Carolina once when I was little. I don't know if you've seen the movie, The Last of the Mohicans, but it "takes place" in PA and Ohio but was really filmed in your beautiful state. :D So I guess they do look kind of similar in the mountains. I'll be reading your blogs tonight they look really interesting.

  3. Just found your blog. My dad and I and other family members visit Hawk Mountain every Columbus Day and its always a good time. Never heard any of that stuff although we did have a Bigfoot sighting there in 2009. My nephew and I stood less than 30 feet from it and as a grown man I have to say after I realized what happened I was pretty scared.

    1. Wow! Thanks for sharing. One more reason Hawk Mountain is a really interesting place.


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