Chestnut Ridge: “The Twilight Zone of Pennsylvania”

It is known as “The Twilight Zone of Pennsylvania” or “The Disneyland of the Paranormal”. Sometimes it’s just “The Mysterious Chestnut Ridge”.

It is the westernmost ridge of the Alleghenies, rising in southern Indiana County and stretching south-southwest for about 75 miles, extending through Westmoreland and Fayette counties to West Virginia. It gradually descends into a series of hills about 5 miles southeast of Morgantown, W.Va.

Eric Altman, a 42-year-old investigator of Bigfoot and other paranormal phenomena, said it’s been the setting for weird lights, weird creatures, hauntings, and just about every other form of weirdness.

If you’ve heard of anything in the paranormal world, chances are something remarkably similar was reported by someone on Chestnut Ridge.

“UFO sightings happen weekly,” Altman said. “Bigfoot, Dogman, Thunderbird, Big Black Cats, Alien Cats, Strange Anomalous Ghost Lights, Spheres, Mini Spheres, Large Triangular Vehicles, Cigar Shaped, Disc Shaped, Christmas Decoration Shaped Vehicles.”

He remarked, “Things like that happen on the ridge.”

Chestnut Ridge includes Kecksburg, site of the December 9, 1965 UFO incident, in which something fell from the sky into the forest near the tiny village 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh after a fireball was reported from the eastern US and Canada .

But less famous UFO sightings were reported in the 1950s and 1940s, something “flying low in the treetops, right over the villages,” Altman noted.

Thunderbirds, “large, black birds with wingspans of 8 to 20 feet,” are sometimes described as pterodactyl-like. Reports of a kite flying over the region surfaced in 2016.

Bigfoot tracks?

Casts of tracks believed by some to be Bigfoot tracks, including one from Chestnut Ridge, were on display at the 2022 Albatwitch Festival in Columbia. (Marcus Schneck | [email protected])

The first Bigfoot report came from the ridge in 1931. Other reports have continued to this day.

Two emergency medical services workers reported seeing a man crossing a street at 12:30 p.m. on May 20, 2021 in Indian Head, Fayette County. He crossed the 24-foot-wide, dual-carriageway in three strides and disappeared down an embankment, leaving behind a “horrid odor of dead, rotting animal,” according to Altman. He examined the next day and found a series of impressions in the grass leading up the bank.

Almost a year later, at 10 p.m. on May 13, 2022, a similar road crossing sighting was reported about 3 miles from the 2021 report.

“A large dog carrying a dead animal in its mouth” was reported at Laurel Summit in Fall 2019. Large, black, mountain lion-like cats have been reported multiple times in the spring and summer of 2020.

Additionally, Altman noted, “We have dozens of haunted locations, including Jumonville Glen, the location in southwestern Pennsylvania where Colonial Virginians soldiers under the command of Lt. Col. George Washington and French soldiers exchanged the first shots at the French and Indian War May 28, 1754.” He said sounds of musket fire and fighting and sightings of ghostly soldiers had been reported.

“Countless, countless haunted places traverse the ridge,” he said.

Altman asked, “Is Chestnut Ridge a portal or gateway to the unknown? Is it just urban legends and campfire stories? Is it geology? Will the mystery ever be solved?”

New book dives into the inexplicable

Stan Gordon, the dean of the Pennsylvania Investigators into Bigfoot, UFOs, Mountain Lions and Other Mysteries, drew on decades of research and thousands of reports for his new book, Creepy Cryptids. (Contributed photo)

The same questions posed to another longtime Chestnut Ridge paranormal investigator and Altman’s friend and colleague, Stan Gordon, author of Creepy Cryptids and Strange UFO Encounters of Pennsylvania. Bigfoot, Thunderbirds, Mysteries of the Chestnut Ridge and more. Case Book Four.”

“Historically, Fayette County in southwestern Pennsylvania has been one of the state’s most active areas for ongoing mystery encounters. This is especially true at locations that border or take place on Chestnut Ridge,” noted Gordon, who has recorded and investigated hundreds of reports of the unexplained on and near Chestnut Ridge.

Pennsylvania’s most famous UFO incident — the Kecksburg crash — and one that Gordon has been investigating for more than four decades, is within Chestnut Ridge’s zone of influence.

Both Altman and Gordon were featured in paranormal filmmaker Seth Breedlove’s 2017 sci-fi documentary, Invasion on Chestnut Ridge.

Breedlove, who researched many of the reports from the ridge, described his film as “an immersion into one of the most fascinating and unusual areas this side of the Bermuda Triangle. The film tells the story of the UFO crash in Kecksburg, Bigfoot/UFO sightings in Uniontown, encounters with a large prehistoric bird at Keystone State Park and much more. “Invasion on Chestnut Ridge” will be the first feature film to document this hotbed of paranormal activity.”

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You can also reach Marcus Schneck at [email protected].