Julie Antonson



Dead Man’s Hollow is a nature preserve owned by the Allegheny Land Trust and can be found along the Youghogheny River near the Boston Bridge. There are six main trails that span out to touch upon the 400 acres of eerie and beautiful land that consists of Dead Man’s Hollow. Each trail varies in difficulty from easy to very challenging. There are other unmarked trails as well. A GPS is recommended for those since they often change and may lead you somewhere you’d rather not be, surrounded by things that go bump in the dark, lost and alone.

There have been a lot of deaths and mysterious happenings surrounding Dead Man’s Hollow. A crazy legend and tons of folklore are what came of it all. Haunted not only by it’s eerie beauty of the ruins that time and nature have claimed, but also by the lives that were claimed there as well. There’s even a fabled creature that has been sighted, but never found. It’s the area’s very own Big Foot or Loch Ness Monster.

All the Many Deaths

Beginning around 1875, the folklore kicks off with the story of a group of boys who found a body hanging in a tree while walking through the woods. The body was strung up in a tree by a noose and so badly decomposed that it couldn’t be identified. Whoever it was that committed that crime was allowed to live out their guilty life without being caught, leaving behind the damaged spirit of the victim in the tree.

[image:Tara&Doug/flickr] The Ruins Trail

The Ruins Trail

A few years later, a man was gunned down in the hollow after tracking down and firing at the group of men he believed to have robbed his store. The man who was convicted of the crime was hanged for the act in the Allegheny County Jail’s courtyard. The newspaper reported his last words where he said that everyone thought he knew something about the murder, yet he claimed to be innocent. His very last words were, “Goodbye, murderers, goodbye.” It’s possible that the rustling leaves you heard moving without any wind, was really his wronged soul which wanders about, seeking justice.

The death toll racks up a couple more right around the same time, when four men working at a quarry in Dead Man’s Hollow had discovered their explosives were frozen. They put them near a fire to warm them up. Of course the expected happened, and kaboom! Three of the four men were killed by the explosion.

Another tale of dishonor and deceit, has two more dead in the hollow. Two men were said to have robbed a bank and met in Dead Man’s Hollow to split the money. One man got greedy and killed the other for the full share. He hid the money somewhere in the woods, but was killed by law enforcement at the opening of the woods. Some believe the money is still hidden somewhere.

There are other, less interesting stories of more mundane deaths in the area, as well. There was something about this place in the late 1800’s and very early 1900’s, that just seemed to like taking lives. Luckily for the wandering explorers of today, no deaths have occurred in quite some time.

[image:SaraSjoberg/flickr] Witch Hazel Trail

Witch Hazel Trail

The Local Monster

This is one legend that people just can’t let go of. Sightings of this beast started in the early 1800’s and some still believe it to be out there. A snake as big around as a grown man, and forty feet long, slithering about in the long grass, just out of sight. That’s enough to give anyone the heebie jeebies! A few of the sightings could be chalked up to alcohol, but there are so many eyewitnesses that it makes you wonder if there might be a grain of truth to it. Of course, there’s also a rumor that the story was spread by bootleggers who wanted people to stay out of the area. It may have been a successful ruse.

When you’re exploring the beauty of the trails and admiring the nature, remember the past of Dead Man’s Hollow. If you see or hear something moving and there’s no wind or people, just know, there are a number of different spirits that could be trying to get your attention. Or, it could just be a giant snake waiting for its chance to strike.



March 12, 2016
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