Along the Way: The Masked Woman of Mount Nittany

Mount Nittany, near Zion

When I was researching the story of the ghost that haunts old Yearick’s Cemetery, the main written resource was an article I had uncovered many years ago in the Centre County Historical Library. The article was written by Ron Bracken was undated and lacked a source, though I believe it was originally published in The Centre Daily Times. In it, Bracken shares three supernatural stories from Centre County. Entitled “The Giant Ghost of Brush Valley and Other Tales,” I had shared the title story previously, and have returned to the article for another regional story. Note: The Giant Ghost of Brush Valley can be found here: The Ghost of Brush Valley.

Ever since I first read the article, I find myself watching for the mysterious figure that walks the road between Pleasant Gap and Zion. Bracken recorded that the strange event that happened many years ago took place at “the Advent Church…on the road between Pleasant Gap and Zion.”

Note: Bracken’s location of the Advent Church is slightly confusing. He described it as being in Spring Township, between Zion and Pleasant Gap, However, he also wrote the Bellefonte Airport was “right across the road from the Advent Church.” There was an Advent Church located in Zion, but Zion is not in Spring Township and Zion is not exactly across the road from the Bellefonte Airport. Despite the confusion, the old Advent Church in Zion is where I believe this is the location where this story takes place.

The story of The Masked Woman of Mount Nittany was told to Bracken by Jasper Brooks, a carpenter from Pleasant Gap. Brooks was hired to paint the Advent Church, but due to other commitments, he planned on painting the church over a couple days.

On the first day of painting, one of the workers noticed a woman walking along the road. As the mysterious woman approached the church the worker noted she wore a “loose wrap and an odd headpiece” that covered her face. The piece was described as looking like a handkerchief that covered her face, except for her “blazing eyes.”

Upon arriving at the church, the figure turned southward towards Mount Nittany. The workers paused and watched as she disappeared into the woods at the base of the mountain. About an hour later she appeared from the woods, returned to the road and continued eastward towards Zion.

While odd, nothing supernatural was thought about it at the time, though the workers talked about her piercing eyes and her strange headwear.

It would be several days before the group was able to return to the church. As they continued to paint the building, once again the mysterious woman appeared from the direction of Pleasant Gap. They watched as she approached the church, turned southward towards the the mountainside. Again, an hour passed before she returned to the church and continued her journey towards Zion.

By the fourth time the mysterious woman appeared, the workers were curious what the masked woman was doing on the mountainside. When she arrived, some of the workers followed her from a distance as she made her way to the top of Mount Nittany. Near the top of the mountain, she turned around and went back down the mountainside. While the workers fought to pass through the brush and struggled to get to the top of the mountain, the mysterious lady seemed to glide through the thick brush.

A couple of the workers attempted to stop her and talk, but she ignored them when they demanded she identify herself. When asked what she was doing, she snapped, “Walking for my health,” before she continued her journey towards Zion. The workers attempted to follow her, but she quickly disappeared from view and the masked woman was never spotted again by the workers.

Bracken added at the end of the story that he believed the woman was somehow connected to the airmail crashes that would happen years after the woman was spotted – that she would later lure the two airmail pilots to their deaths.

Was this a real person playing a trick on the workers or was this a spirit they encountered? Why was she wearing strange headgear that hid her face from view? What was the purpose of her strange journey to the top of Mount Nittany? The questions that linger remain unanswered.

As far as I can determine nobody ever saw the woman in her strange headgear again and why she was walking to the top of Mount Nittany remains a mystery.

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