Tales of Ghosts, Folklore and Local Legends

First published in 1982, Ghost Stories of Berks County, was soon followed by Ghost Stories of Berks County Book 2, and Ghost Stories of Berks County Book 3, the last of which I just picked up at a little second-hand book store in West Chester.

Though not hugely popular these books do contain some fun, creepy tales of the supernatural and are worth the read for those of us in PA who enjoy local spooky lore. Author Charles J. Adams III has quite a collection of ghostly compilations to his credit, including Bucks County Ghost Stories, Ghost Stories of the Lehigh Valley, Ghost Stories of Chester County and the Brandywine Valley, and other collections of ghost stories in various Pennsylvania locales. A little bit of trivia: the book “Bucks County Ghost Stories” is seen briefly in the film “Signs” starring Mel Gibson, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

“Weird” is always a good place to start. Since around 1990 the Weird N.J. periodical has been entertaining readers with stories of strange creatures, strange people, weird events, creepy places and personal accounts of the paranormal in New Jersey. In 2003 creators Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman published their the first Weird N.J. coffee table book with the tagline, “Your Travel Guide to New Jersey’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets” which contained the best of the best weird stuff. The book was soon followed by Weird N.J. Volume 2 and through collaboration with authors of strange local lore from other states, the Weird series of books has spread to include all but 17 states in the U.S., including Weird Pennsylvania.

Penned by Matt Lake, who has authored several other books in the Weird guides series, Weird Pennsylvania takes us on a romp through the southeastern part of the state mostly, with some tales from a little farther west. Let’s face it, historically speaking the eastern part of the country has just had more time to collect its share of weirdness. To be sure, the Weird guides are not really intended as travel guides either. While they do share local legends, highlight oddities and roadside curiosities in certain areas, none of the books include maps or specific directions to any of the places or events.

Efforts continue to collect tales and legends and progress can be followed on the official Weird U.S. Website.