Fall is the perfect time of year for a hike at the beautiful Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. It’s considered one of the best places to see fall foliage and the fall hawk migration. It is also one of America’s most haunted places.
Part I: The Dark History of Hawk Mountain
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Albany Township, Bucks County, is located on Kittatinny Ridge on what was sacred ground to the Lenni-Lenape Indians in that area. In 1756 they slaughtered the Gerhardt family who lived in a cabin on the hill. The lone survivor of the brutal attack was their 11 year old son Matthias, who incredibly returned to the site sometime around 1793 and built a new home where his family’s old one had been.
In 1850 Matthias Schaumboch (aka Schambacher) took possession of the two-room dwelling and established it as a tavern for travelers who were heading to the as yet unsettled north. Stories quickly began to circulate of disappearing travelling salesmen, of locals hearing screams and moans coming from the barn and of people being chased away from the property by a bloody hatchet-wielding Schaumboch, who was also reported to have been seen scrubbing blood off of the barn walls. Adding fuel to the rumors was the fact that Schaumboch would come to town selling clothing and other items. According to one story, a merchant who was selling Civil War uniforms disappeared and a few days later Schaumboch was seen selling the same items. The merchant was last seen at Schaumboch’s tavern.
Schaumboch died in 1879 at age 55 after a mental breakdown. He is alleged to have made a deathbed confession to the murder of at least 11 travelers to his inn, saying that he robbed and killed them, then buried them in the woods. He claimed to have been driven to madness and murder by a voice whispering in his ear telling him to commit the acts. He is buried in an unmarked grave at New Bethel church.
The next inhabitants of the tavern were William Turner, his wife and their eight children. According to old records found in the tavern, the Turners found human remains in the three wells on the property.
If you’re visiting Hawk Mountain, look for the small white building with the plaque that reads “Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Schaumboch’s Tavern, National Register of Historical Places” and currently houses Hawk Mountain Sanctuary employees. It is located just past the sanctuary when you begin to descend the mountain. It’s on the left when you’re going south. Pay attention – it’s easy to miss!
Stay tuned for Part II: The Ghosts of Hawk Mountain
Sources: The Morning Call
PA Haunts & History