~~ by Christine Lorraine
Did you know that McConnell’s Mill covered bridge in Lawrence County, PA lies in an area which is legendary for its collection of supernatural stories?
Among them are tales of lives lost along the rapid waters and fear-instilling cliffs of Slippery Rock Creek, which runs relentlessly beneath this impressive 146-year-old red covered bridge.
The most recent death in this area occurred not too long back, according to triblive.com: “Around four years ago, a woman fell to her death near Breckneck Bridge — which is in McConnells Mill State Park — when reaching for her camera that had fallen.”
But the primary spooky stories that swirl around the McConnell’s Mill bridge area concern long-ago scenarios from previous centuries.
For many years folklore has told the tale of a little girl who was killed in a car accident near the covered bridge. It is said that if one parks in the center of the bridge at night, turns their headlights off, then honks three times, the eerie child will be prompted to appear in the rearview mirror. However, she disappears before anyone can turn around to look at her. (Note – Due to the danger of sitting on a covered bridge at night with headlights off, please don’t even think of trying this stunt or you might suffer a similar fate).
There is also the story of the mill’s caretaker named Moses Whorton. He was a slave who had been set free, and he moved there in 1880. It’s said that he loved and protected the area for 30 years. His dwelling was a cottage near his beloved mill in the days when the land was still owned by Thomas McConnell.
Legend states that if anyone needs him, Mr. Whorton can be beckoned by the honk of a car horn, which will prompt him to appear. From the sound of it, sometimes it might not even take that much to cause Mr. Whorton to show up.
According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Susan Seibel, who quotes Butler County resident Jim Clements: “…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 a 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.”
You can check out the entire story at: https://old.post-gazette.com/neigh_north/20021030ncover1030p2.asp
Another handed-down tale from yesteryear concerns a worker who was employed at McConnell’s grist mill, which operated from 1852 to 1928. The story is that the worker was accidentally killed when a piece of mill machinery went haywire, and that visitors who are in the park at just the right moment can sometimes observe him walking down the path to the mill, carrying his lunch bucket. He then enters the building, turns on the lights, and is heard to scream while he relives that horrifying moment when he was fatally injured.
Whether or not any of these tales of woe are true cannot be decided by reading this article. What we can tell you with certainty, though, are a couple of points which are the result of personal knowledge, observations, videos and photographs gathered during visits to the McConnell’s covered bridge and mill in 2020.
The first of these observations is regarding the photo of the murky water near the mill. While snapping that photograph and standing near that spot, I was overcome with a feeling of fear and an overwhelming urge to step away and go somewhere else. Which is exactly what I did as soon as the image was captured. I just felt as though something ominous and unpleasant happened there at one time. One can only wonder where the root of such a feeling originates.
Secondly, check out the photo of the orbs inside the bridge. This photo is completely untouched other than to put my name on it. I have numerous other photos showing the inside of this covered bridge, and the majority of them don’t show orbs. Of those which do show orbs, some are visible near the opening of the bridge at the wooded non-park side, and others are inside of the bridge. Such inconsistencies leave one to wonder…
Third, take a look at the photograph showing the lower level doorway looking inside of the mill, which is also untouched other than to add my name. What is the white light above the door? There is no light bulb there. Other photos of wider views do not show that light, which leaves one to ponder what the source of this curious light might be.
I’m a Home health nurse and I travel to the homes of a lot of local mostly elderly patients. One of my patients, who is 93 years old told me this story. When he was about 24 years old he fell into McConnells Mills creek and was pulled under the water. He said that he could feel hands grabbing his ankles from beneath the water pulling him down. Some how he managed to come to the surface and escape from being drowned. He said that for years and years , when he closed his eyes he would feel those hands around his ankles. He told me that it was 70 years ago but it still scares him and he never went back to that area again.
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