The moment the car slowed I knew I was going to have company. I watched as the car turned onto the cemetery grounds and stepped away from the camera set-up to wait for its arrival. Though I was set up on the hillside above the Card Creek Cemetery, I was not here to photograph the cemetery. To be honest, I had no interest in the cemetery at all. Instead, I was more interested in the view of the Allegheny River Valley. But more importantly, this location was one of the few locations that gave a view of the hollow on the opposite side of the river and Route 6.
I watched as the car bounced up the roadway and stopped next to mine. An older man got out of the passenger side and walked over to where I stood.
“What are you doing?” he asked curiously. Though not accusatory, I could tell he was wary of my presence in the rural cemetery.
“I’m taking pictures of the hollow over there.” I pointed at the hollow on the opposite side of the Allegheny River. He turned a looked across the valley
“Why would you want a picture of it?” he asked. I could tell I had his interest.
I gave my name and explained I ran a blog about Pennsylvania. He listened as I told him of a couple of the local stories I was working on and concluded it by telling him that I believed the hollow I was photographing was Potter County’s mysterious Halfway Hollow.
“Halfway Hollow? That hollow doesn’t have a name that I’m aware of, but you may be correct.” He scratched his head. “I guess Halfway Hollow is as good of a name as any.”
The exact location of Halfway Hollow has been lost over the years and it has only been recently the search for this hollow has caught the attention of the public. Many believe the mysterious hollow is another name for a different, nearby hollow – Hanson Hollow. However, a newspaper article from the December 15, 1896 edition of The Sun (New York, NY) identifies the location of Halfway Hollow as being across the mouth Card Creek. I was convinced the unnamed hollow was the lost Halfway Hollow.
“That would make sense,” the man spoke. “Card Creek empties into the Allegheny over there. So why does this hollow interest you?”
I debated for a moment to tell him why the hollow interested me. I was first introduced to the name in connection to a lost fortune of gold coins. Treasure hunters have been trying to discover the location of the hollow since discovering the legend of Dabold Hare’s lost fortune. W.C. Jameson records in his Buried Treasures of the Mid-Atlantic States that Hare’s fortune was buried near his homestead in Halfway Hollow. Exactly how much – if any – gold was buried by Hare remains a mystery, but as the years passed, the story grew to include numerous milk cans filled with gold coins buried all over his property.
Instead, I opened my mouth and the following words tumbled out: “I’m searching for a ghost.”
The man stared at me for a moment and then laughed. “Now that’s different.”
The story of the Halfway Ghost comes from the writings of Robert Lyman. According to Lyman, the stretch of road, where the Burtville dug-out road crosses Halfway Hollow, was haunted by an unidentified lady dressed in black riding a black horse. The lady and her horse always appeared riding towards those traveling on the road – if they were traveling east, she was riding west and vice versa. With her long hair and black cape flowing behind her, she would approach and upon passing the viewer, she promptly disappeared.
Interestingly, the ghost was known to appear at any time of the day. She was spotted on warm, sunny days and on dark, stormy nights. Anybody traveling along the road had a chance to encounter the restless spirit.
What is not known was why her spirit lingered, riding on throughout eternity. What mission was she on? Was she murdered at this lonely spot? According to Lyman there was no reason for the lone rider to appear at this location.
What was known is once the road was paved, the rider stopped appearing, or at least the reports of the phantom rider slowed down and eventually stopped.
“I never heard that one,” the man chuckled as I finished telling him the story. “But it is strange that you mention that spot being haunted. My pappy used to tell of a mysterious figure who walked along the road trying to hitch a ride. I wonder if it was the same thing.”
After talking about it for a couple of minutes, he did not add much to his pappy’s story other than it was rumored a phantom hitchhiker walked the stretch of road. He wasn’t sure if the figure who begged for a ride was a male or female.
“I can say I’ve never saw anything strange along that stretch of road,” he spoke as he walked back over to the car. “If you ever see anything, let me know.”
“I will,” I replied as the car drove away.
I finished photographing the hollow and packed away my gear. I drove back to Route 6 and turned towards Roulette, planning on stopping at the John Lyman Cemetery to pay my respects to Robert Lyman, the man who recorded many of the legends of north-central Pennsylvania.
I can say the short drive along Route 6 was uneventful. I did not see a mysterious figure riding her horse towards me as I passed the stretch she once haunted. Nor did I see a mysterious figure trying to hitch a ride to a destination unknown.
Maybe they both managed to get to the place they were headed towards, leaving this stretch of road to the travelers who are passing through on their journey, unaware of the haunted history of Halfway Hollow.