Chickies Rock tour offers a creepy glimpse of the past

Ghostly guide Andy Yoder will lead a spooky tour of Chickies Rock on Monday. (Marty Heisey / Staff)

For who knows how many thousands of years, a massive outcropping of rock in western Lancaster County has stood sentry over the winding river some 100 feet below.

We know it now as Chickies Rock.

But long before it bore a name, the mammoth quartzite rock formation was a destination for lovers, desperate souls and those hungry for revenge.

If it could talk, Chickies Rock could tell many a tale of untimely death met on the edge of its precipice.

But as it can't, Lancaster County park naturalist Andy Yoder will do the talking for it, during "Haunted Chickies Under a Full Moon," a spooky walk through history happening Monday night from 8 to 9:30.

Led by the light of the moon, with a little help from lanterns, visitors will walk around the area, which has become well known in the paranormal world for its abundance of unexplained phenomena.

Legend has it that an Indian maiden fell in love with a white settler and they would arrange clandestine meetings at the rock - that is, until her husband discovered them and killed the settler.

"Then the brave took the maiden and jumped over the edge," Yoder says.

In 1946, Harriet Horn was enjoying a picnic with her co-workers at the scenic lookout, when she realized they forgot the water.

When she and some friends went to retrieve it, they were met with a creature some 16 feet tall, with no arms or visible legs. Its head was bandaged and there were six knives protruding from the bandages.

"That's the story that creeps me out the most," says Yoder. Nobody wants to bump into an apparition three times their size.

Yoder takes a light-hearted approach to the event, but admits to being intrigued by all the stories surrounding the area, particularly the old stone farmhouse on the property.

Built in the late 1700s according to Yoder, the house sits vacant on the county-owned property.

"(Paranormal expert) Rick Fisher says its the most haunted place he's ever been in," says Yoder.

Indeed, some park naturalists and rangers have reported strange goings-on in the building, but unfortunately for Yoder, he's not among them.

"I've gone in the house and nothing has ever happened to me," he says wistfully.

Participants in the walk won't actually be entering the house (for legal reasons), but will be free to visit the porch, look in the windows and try to tune in to otherworldly visitors.

They may want to listen for the sound of horses' hooves. It is said that a former owner of the home, a Colonel Hedricks, ran into a wire trap that he himself had set up to discourage pillaging from local natives.

In his haste to catch the thieves in action, he forgot his own trap and decapitated himself.

When the park was a campground, counselors often would report hearing the sound of a horse running nearby, when none were anywhere in the vicinity.

There's also a story about a robber who hid gold at Chickies Rock but took the knowledge of its exact whereabouts to the grave.

Or the witch that cursed the area.

There are many other tales Yoder will share, and he is hoping that participants come with stories of their own. (But we don't want to share too much and ruin the surprise.)

"I think it's a lot of fun," says Yoder. "I try to make it fun and interesting.

"A lot of people just like to be a little creeped-out. A little outside their comfort zone."

Hopefully, that's where the Chickies Rock walk will take you.

And don't forget to watch out for albatwitches in the trees - especially if you're eating an apple.

Don't worry, Yoder will explain.

Haunted Chickies Hike

Mon. 8-9:30 p.m. Free

Chickies Rock County Park

Furnace Road, Marietta