I first met Kerry in 2014 at a program I was giving on the legends and lore of Central Pennsylvania. After the program had finished, she approached me and introduced herself. “I have a story you’d be interested in. It was something that happened to me and couple of friends that I can’t explain.”
She paused for a moment before blurting out, “Do you believe in phantom buildings? Like buildings that appear in out-of-the-way places that just do not belong?”
“It could be possible,” I replied.
“Some friends and I encountered something in the Seven Mountains a couple years ago. It looked like a church, but it was something,” her voice faltered for a moment before she spoke the word, “evil.”
We sat as she blurted out her strange experience. There was something about the nervousness, confusion and fear in her voice that told me she had witnessed something that spooked her.
While at the time I took notes of her story, I recently talked with Kerry and asked her if she would be willing to write out her story for me. What follows is the email Kerry sent about her paranormal experience that she has allowed me to share.
“This happened during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college.
“A group of us decided we were going to go driving around while we caught up. We had all been taking classes and this was really the first time we had a chance to catch up since graduation. Scott picked up Jeremy, Rachel and me and we headed out to Bear Gap Picnic Area. It isn’t much of a picnic area, but it was somewhere we used to go to often as teenagers, because it is hidden deep in the mountains and well, we could hangout and be teenagers. We picked up some sandwiches and drinks and headed into the mountains. The road entered Bald Eagle State Forest and we had only gone a mile or so when Jeremy suddenly called out, asking if we saw the old church off to the right side of the road.
“We spent many hours back there and none of us had ever noticed a church, or any building, there before.
“Scott stopped and backed up. The old building stood about fifty yards off the southern side of the road. Scott parked his car along the side of the road and we got out.
“There was a small path that followed an overgrown road to the church clearing. When we entered the clearing, Rachel immediately said she didn’t like this and went back to the car. Jeremy, Scott and I stayed to explore. It was a “normal looking” rural church. It was a one-room building and it badly needed painted. The stone foundation was falling apart and many of the windows were broken.
“Looking back, it was strange that the yard in front of the church was mowed. We had to walk back through the weeds, but there in front of the church was that mowed grass.
“But the area around the church wasn’t as cared for and was covered in tall grass and briars. There was a small cemetery next to it with a handful of stones that were falling over and many were broken.
“Jeremy was the first to walk over to the church. He walked up the stone steps and checking the door handle, was surprised it was unlocked. The door groaned as it opened. It was deep and humanlike. Hearing it, Scott suggested we just leave and I agreed. There was something about that noise that sent chills down my spine.
“Jeremy remained at the door staring in despite us yelling at him to come on because we were leaving. The next words that Jeremy said chilled me to the core: “No, I want to stay.” He didn’t say explore or look around. He said “Stay.”
“Scott went over to get him and when he touched Jeremy’s arm, Jeremy yelled at him, saying we were to let him alone because he wanted to stay. Scott wrapped his arms around Jeremy and dragged him from the doorway and across the yard and back down the path. Jeremy screamed and kicked the while way back to the car.
“The whole thing was freaky and we decided we were going home. Scott sat in the back with Jeremy because he kept trying to open the car door and jump out. We were back in at Scott’s place before Jeremy seemed to snap out of whatever had possessed him. Though he was acting normal, we stayed at Scott’s place for the rest of the day and that night so we could keep an eye on Jeremy.
“We did not really talk about it that day, because we were all freaked out. Jeremy just sat there staring at us, like he was mad at us for pulling him away from the building. We kept asking him what had happened and while I’m not convinced he told us everything, here’s what he said.
“When he opened the door, he was surprised to see people in there. The pews were filled and there was a man at the front who was standing near a simple pupit. The man gave him a big smile and the people in the pews turned to stare at Jeremy as if he was interrupting something.
“Jeremy said it felt so inviting and welcoming and he wanted to go inside and join them. He said he wanted to stay because he felt peace. How he felt inside and acted were two different things.
“We ended up taking Jeremy home and then Rachel. Scott asked if I wanted to go investigate the church building again. I really didn’t, but I didn’t want Scott to go up there alone. So we drove back up and we get to the area where the church was and there’s nothing. We drive back and forth a couple times and we find where Scott had pulled off the road the day before and parked and looked around. There was no church, no path, no cemetery, no clearing where a building might have stood.
“This is strange, but both Scott and I believe the building was in search of a victim and if Jeremy would have entered those doors, he would have been killed. Maybe those others in there were victims too? Whatever it was lured them to their deaths or trapped them in there?”
When she had initially told me this story, I attempted to figure out what happened. My initial thoughts were they were not on the road she believed she was on. Kerry claimed it happened on Treaster Valley Road and a couple weeks after she had originally shared the experience, I set out with a friend to explore. We drove the length of Treaster Valley Road, but we found nothing that would hint of an old church or cemetery.
I did find a historic one-room church in the area with a cemetery attached to it, but I could dismiss it, because 1) it had a large, well-kept cemetery, and 2) the church next to it is still being used and 3) it is not hidden in the trees – it is right along the road. I also know of another cemetery in the Seven Mountains, but it is so far out of the way, I find it hard to believe this is the cemetery they saw. In addition, this cemetery does not have a church next to it and the cemetery is maintained.
Kerry’s story leaves me with more questions than answers and what happened to Kerry and her friends that day remains a mystery. Was it a time slip? Or did they step into a different dimension? Or did they encounter something darker that attempted to lure them into a deadly trap? Or was it merely the result of overactive imaginations that got the best of them?
The truth may never be known.