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Traditional Cache

Scripture Rocks 1

A cache by Ian5281
Hidden : 4/19/2005
In Pennsylvania, United States
Difficulty:
1.5 out of 5
Terrain:
2 out of 5

Size: Size: regular (regular)

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Geocache Description:

Scripture Rocks are the result of years of religious zeal and a chisel. Well, probably many, many, chisels. Rock outcrops in this area are covered with literally thousands of lines of biblical scripture that have been carved into them nearly a century ago.

Please park at N41°09.521 W079°03.008 along Sulgar road and hike north to the cache location.  Approaching the cache from the north is not authorized. Take Rt 28 then east on Rt322. Turn NE onto Sulgar road. 

Shortly before the turn of the 20th century a Brookville teacher at the Clear Run School, one Douglas Stahlman, became involved in some sort of physical altercation with a big lumberjack who seems to have put an awful whupping on him.  Medical procedures in those years were not what they are today.  Nonetheless, a steel plate was put in the skull of this guy who did not seem to have the sense to stay out of Saturday night brawls with lumberjacks.

Either the plate worked loose, put some undue pressure on a section of his gray matter, or perhaps Mr. Stahlman was inclined that way even prior to his squaring off with the Jefferson County Paul Bunyan, but he came down with a heavy dose of religion about that time.  Whatever the reason, whether it was the indiscreet teacher's close call with his own early demise or because of the influence of the faith healer and bible thumper Dr. John Dowie of Chicago, founder of the Zion settlement in Illinois, his life took a dramatic turn.  He proceeded to leave us some of the most fantastic examples of misdirected energy and zeal that one is liable to encounter anywhere on the planet.

For the next seven years (1907-1914), Stahlman would cover the rocks and Beech trees at about five different locations around his hometown with as many as 2500 lines of carved scripture.  (A conservative guess would be somewhere around 15,500 letters).

Eventually someone noticed that the behavior of this gentleman was something less (or more) than normal and after the fashion of the day, they had him installed in an institution for the mentally deficient, (a contemporary politically correct term which in Stahlman's day would have been called something much more clear in the meaning, if a bit insensitive.)  Here he remained as librarian for the remainder of his days until he died about 1937.

Years have made the carvings upon the trees illegible scars, and moss and leaves have covered many of the passages on the rocks, but ample evidence of this fantastic project still remain for the curiosity seeker to observe and ponder.

As one walks along the trail, you become conscious in a rather eerie way that the stones all bear the faint traces of literally thousands of carved words, and that each separate carving is credited to chapter and verse from some book in the Bible.  Some of these carvings cover surfaces as large as the floor of a room, some are carved along the narrow edges of stones jutting sideways from the earth, some are carved under overhangs or along ridged strata.  Depending where they were carved determines the legibility but probably all of them could be translated by rubbings.  Here and there one encounters a stone where dark moss has grown inside the letters making those lines stand out as if they were painted.

All in all over 500 separate examples are said to exist.  Doing the math reveals that one would have had to be completed every five days if he worked every day, winter and summer without taking off weekends or holidays for the seven years.  This does not take into any account the number of lines, words or degrees of difficulty dictated by the locations of each particular carving.

It is probably one of the most bizarre examples of obsessive human behavior that anyone is apt to encounter anywhere. 

Once you have found the cache follow the path west along the hillside to find more, more and even more carved rocks.  The trail turns downhill to the railroad tracks and you can return to the parking spot easily. Look around. The area is vast. Once you have a feel for what you are looking for, you can find carved rocks all over. Find a big flat stone covered with leaves? Kick off the leaves to find more carvings. See a tall pointed rock along the railroad? Go and notice how the word "DEATH" is in extra huge block letters upon it.

This is not the only location in the Brookville area that displays Stahlman's work and I encourage cachers to find more examples and post their waypoints here. Please include as many pictures and as much info as possible! Since so little is known about this phenom, (the only published info I have found is referenced below) I hope to use this cache page to gather as much data and info as possible and prevent this peculiar story from slipping into obscurity.  Here are descriptions to the other general areas that are known. 

    1.    Old Brookville Park, along Sugarcamp Run, between North Fork and junction of two township roads near SR 0968

    2.     On US 322, south side of road in wooded lot just east of and across from the Pinecreek Fire Hall.  (Large beech tree just east of stucco bungalow)

    3.    At Port Barnett east and south of Humphrey Charcoal office, which stands where pioneer Joseph Barnett had his inn and store (on rocks)

    4.    Along Pennsylvania Railroad at deserted lumbering village of Bells, near Sandy Lick Creek and south of Pinecreek School.  (Rock carvings cover area of possibly two miles on hillside)

 

 

Portions of this text were blatantly plagiarized from Dick Dornisch's article in The St. Marys Daily Press (Oct 19, 1996) and A Guidebook to Historic Western Pennsylvania. by Helene Smith and George Swetnam (1991)

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Current Time:
Last Updated: on 4/20/2014 12:27:59 PM Pacific Daylight Time (7:27 PM GMT)
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum