Towards the end of the 19th Century, three sisters lived in a small house atop Chiques Hill in an area at the time referred to as “The Rock.” It was a common belief by many in town that these women were practitioners of the Black Arts.
The sisters, witches or not, were content to be left alone away from the progress of a rapidly modernizing world. Unfortunately, progress and greed felt differently.
Most trolley companies of that era had one or more amusement parks along their routes to help enhance summer revenues and provide a place for weekend outings. Conestoga Traction Company had Rocky Springs and Maple Grove, so it made sense the Columbia & Donegal Electric Railway would want one, too.
The plan was to build tracks along the side of the ridge from Columbia with a completion date of 1893. The railway would climb 1,900 feet on a six percent grade, running on the west side of Chickies Hill Road and then curving sharply west to reach Chickies Park. It was here that an amusement park would be built on the west end of the ridge, atop Chickies Rock, overlooking the Susquehanna. The only problem was the home occupied by the three sisters sat squarely in the middle of the proposed site.
The C&D began purchasing all the needed parcels of land. Most were eager to sell, except for the sisters. The C&D made several offers. Each was more generous than the one before. But the sisters refused every time. They would never give up their ancestral home.
Railway officials discussed building the park around the sisters, but given the controversy of them being witches, the plan was scrapped. Left with no alternative, the trolley company convinced local officials to grant them the land through eminent domain.
Still refusing to leave but left with no other choices, the sisters made a suicide pact. Before they followed through, the sisters turned to the black arts for revenge. They cast a spell from the Sixth and Seventh Book of Moses to curse the land in an affirmation that greed on the part of the new owners would certainly bring death.
The Sixth and Seventh Book of Moses is an 18th- or 19th-century black magic text allegedly written by Moses and passed down as one of the hidden books of the Jewish Tanakh. The text is full of magical incantations and seals that purport to instruct the reader in the spells used to create some of the miracles portrayed in the Bible.
Eventually, the text was brought here to Lancaster County by German immigrants. The book is rumored to be the most powerful of the series. According to lore, this book of dark magic cannot be destroyed unless cast into the fire by a boy born on the Sabbath.
A series of costly mishaps plagued the company concerning both the construction and operation of the park. Some believe the curse caused a tragic August 9, 1896, trolley accident that killed six and injured another 68 when a deadly swarm of potato bugs descended on the tracks. Sounds a bit like a plague of locusts as described in Exodus. Read more about the tragic accident here.
The trolley line was finally abandoned on April 25, 1932. It’s believed that their black magic spell still curses the ground today.
1894 map of Columbia, Pennsylvania$27.99 – $34.99
More Haunted Lancaster
You can read more about the things that go bump in the night at Chickies Rock here. If you have a ghost story you want to share as part of Haunted Lancaster, comment below or email me.
- Chickies Rock & the Supernatural
- Chickies Rock tour offers a creepy glimpse of the past
- The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses
- Ghosthunting Pennsylvania (America’s Haunted Road Trip)
- Haunted Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: Ghosts and Other Strange Occurrences
- Interview with Jack Neiss