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Curse of the Stone Couch Oddity at Carbon-Luzerne line shrouded in mystery

  • DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS  The Stone Couch is a curious rock formation along the Weatherly-Eckley Road, a place some believe is haunted.
    DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS The Stone Couch is a curious rock formation along the Weatherly-Eckley Road, a place some believe is haunted.
Published October 25. 2014 09:00AM

The site is peculiar in its plainness.

A flat stretch atop the mountain. No houses, no buildings. Nothing but woods.

So very nondescript. So unassuming and not to be noticed.

Except for a monolith of mystery.

It rests there alongside the road, appearing, at first, to be a large rock. A second glance identifies it as a piece of furniture, a sofa made of stone. But this is one piece of furniture you don't want inside your house.

Everybody knows about it. They call it the Curse of the Stone Couch, a phenomenon north of Weatherly surrounded by nothingness and yet charged with legend and questions.

Why is it there?

Is the mysterious Stone Couch of Buck Mountain a natural rock formation, as many believe?

If so, was it really cursed by a Native American woman some 250 years ago?

Or were the boulders strategically positioned at the site to provide comfort to a distressed family long ago?

There are many questions and few answers, except for a stern warning that resonates in the area: "Stay away! Don't go near. If you stop and rest there, you'll be cursed!"

Local landmark

The Stone Couch is situated along rural Eckley Road, just beyond the Carbon-Luzerne county line.

It's been a landmark at that location as long as anyone can remember. A special roadside rest for the ages, although nobody is certain of its origin. For those who stumble on it by accident, it literally turns heads.

"I've always heard it's a natural rock formation. It's been there just about forever," says Bob Vybrenner of Tamaqua, historian, folklorist and longtime board member at nearby Eckley Miners Village.

Vybrenner's research suggests that the curse has a very early origin. According to legend, an Indian woman with a papoose on her back had hiked up the steep mountainside. The Native American stopped at the couch to feed her baby. But when she reached around, she found the child dead.

Brokenhearted, she placed a curse on the site. As a result, it is said that anyone who lies down on the couch will meet with tragedy.

It seems everyone agrees it's a bad omen to place your head on the couch's rock bolster.

Some, however, have a different story about the rock formation. They say a few boulders actually were moved into perfect position by a man who wanted to provide a resting place for his sick family members.

"His wife and child became ill with high fever. I think it happened during the great influenza epidemic of 1918. Back then, this was still a dirt road," says a nearby resident.

According to the story, the man was driving his family to the nearest doctor in Weatherly when a wheel on his early automobile, a tin lizzie, broke off. The man was forced to continue afoot, leaving his family behind. Before he left, he noticed large rocks at the roadside. Using a lever, he moved the boulders into place, creating a resting spot for his wife and child.

Many hours later, the man returned with a doctor. But it was too late. His family had perished. Brokenhearted, he faded away and died.

Spirits restless

Today, they say the man's tortured spirit wanders the woods around Buck Mountain. On certain nights, motorists report seeing the ghostly figure of a lost man walking along the roadway. They say his spirit still searches for help. Others say the vision is that of a lost Native American woman and her dead baby.

People agree that a restless air surrounds the Stone Couch. But the spookiness doesn't end with the legend. Upon close examination, weathered droplets of something bright red can be seen on the couch's back cushion. The droplets never disappear.

Even stranger are things seen at nightfall.

For instance, Vybrenner is in possession of photos taken at the site at midnight. The pictures clearly show mysterious orbs of light, often a sign of ghostly energy, according to those who the study the paranormal.

In fact, there are quite a few brave souls who say that something odd happens there on foggy nights. Something unexplained takes place along the lonely road.

"If you sit there on the Stone Couch, you'll see headlights appear out of nowhere. They come right at you and then they travel straight through the rock, almost like the rock isn't there," said a woman who asked not to be identified for fear of ridicule.

Others say those who lie flat on the Stone Couch are doomed to be party to a traffic accident. It's all part of the curse.

"My boyfriend runs with a local ambulance. A friend of his tried lying down on the Stone Couch and two weeks later was involved in a head-on collision," says a Tamaqua woman. Many others around Weatherly, Eckley and White Haven will tell you curiously similar stories.

Legend says if you sit on the couch once, you'll encounter bad luck or see scratches on your skin. Sit on it twice, and someone you know will die. Sit on it a third time, and you will die.

The Stone Couch is haunted, they say. If you know what's good for you, you'll stay away.

The stories survive, solid as the rock itself, and as spooky as the specter of a ghostly figure carrying a dead baby.

Above all, the most basic questions remain unanswered.

Who or what created a granite couch weighing thousands of pounds? Exactly what happens at this mysterious place at such a lonely stretch? Even more, why would a couch, normally a place to pause and rest, be charged with tragedy and fright?

Some believe there are places on earth that are portals to the netherworld.

One thing is certain, there's no sense of peace at the Stone Couch of Buck Mountain.

There's a strange feeling in the air. Mountain winds whip through the woods. They whistle and howl and rustle the leaves. If you stand still, you might hear voices. Or even spine-tingling screams.

Could it be a sign of evil? Best to hurry and leave. Leave right away and don't look back. It's the Curse of the Stone Couch.

Stay away, they say.

Stay away or else.

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