“If you ever get out to Hazleton, you have to visit the Stone Couch,” Deb, who calls Hazleton home, informed me. “It’s on top of Buck Mountain near the Luzerne-Carbon County line. Legend states that those who sit on it will have bad luck follow them.”
One morning I set out to find the cursed rock formation. I passed through Hazleton and turned onto Eckley Road. I passed Eckley Mining Village and soon after spotted the formation just feet off the southern edge of the road.
I found a place to safely park on the northern side of the road and crossed the mountain road. I studied the rock formation as I walked closer to it. The formation does resemble a couch. The back of it was stained with faded red spray paint. The arm on the left side of the Stone Couch is missing, though a picture from the mid-1990s does show the rock formation did have another arm made of smaller rocks.
What caught me off-guard was how silent it was along this stretch of highway. The silence of this remote location casts an eerie feeling upon the place. I could immediately understand why people thought this place was haunted.
In some versions of the curse it states the first time you sit on the couch bad luck will follow . The second time you sit on the couch someone you know will die. Sit on it a third time and your death will follow.
The story why the stone couch is cursed varies. The most popular version, according to locals, is the stone couch has been cursed from the time the Delaware roamed the Pocono Mountains. This legend states a Delaware mother was crossing the mountain with her young baby strapped to her back. When she arrived at the stone couch, she sat down, removed the baby to feed it only to discover her baby had died. Devastated, she placed a curse upon the stone couch and the curse remains to this day.
If it was not a Delaware mother who cursed it, then it might have been a man in 1918, during the influenza epidemic of 1918. According to this version, a man was crossing Buck Mountain with his sick wife and child. At the top of the mountain his car broke down. He got out of the vehicle, and, using a lever, moved the large boulders into a couch-like formation for his family to sit on while he walked the rest of the way for help. By the time he returned, his wife and child were dead. The man died soon after, but not before placing a curse upon the stone couch.
A third version of the origins of the curse state a mother was riding in a stagecoach over the mountain. When they reached the top of the mountain, she discovered her baby had died sometime during the trip. Distraught, she killed herself near the Stone Couch.
Though it is not known which story is the correct origins story, the one thing Deb did state a lone figure has been spotted near the stone couch. “We used to go up there a lot to see the figure, I never saw the ghost. But I know plenty of people who have,” Deb told me.
But even the ghost spotted near the rock formation has been up for debate among residents. Travelers at night have reported seeing a man walking along the road before disappearing. Others have reported seeing a lady sitting on the couch. Others have reported seeing the Delaware women wandering among the trees near the couch. Still others have reported seeing a shadowy figure standing at the Stone Couch before it vanishes from sight. The question of which story is correct remains a mystery. Maybe it is all three characters cursing it at a different time in history, or maybe it was none of them and or maybe it is a different ghost altogether.
As far as the origins of the Stone Couch, I do not believe it is natural in origin. I personally believe that it was created when the road over the mountain was built. As I drove along the road, there are numerous places where stones had been built up along the road. One thing that is odd about the Stone Couch is while most of the rocks that had obviously been moved are on the northern side of the road, this is on the southern side. My thoughts are it was placed by those building the road so they had some place to sit and rest while not working.
Searching for the story and its origins, I have not found anything conclusive. According to Deb, she was familiar with the story when she was a teenager in the 1960s, but she knew the story involving the Delaware mother and her child. Interestingly though, the story does not appear in any of the folklore of the region until the mid-1990s, when it is briefly mentioned as being cursed. The Stone Couch and the legends did not come to the public’s attention until 2014, when the story of the curse hit the headlines of regional newspapers.
I finished taking pictures of the rock formation and debated for a minute to sit down and test the curse. Do I believe it is haunted? I personally don’t believe it is cursed, but I was not about to tempt fate.