Haunted Lancaster: Meet Columbia’s Little Bigfoot—the Albatwitch

In his book, Ghosts of the River Towns, paranormal researcher and author Rick Fisher chronicles many paranormal incidents at Chickie’s Rock. The oddest story by far is also very personal for Fisher.

In 2002, he was driving on Route 23 near Chickies Rock early on a cold February morning when he had a strange encounter. In the distance, he saw what appeared to be a person walking in the middle of the road. As Fisher got closer, he slowed down significantly because the person seemed small enough to be a child.

Rick wrote, “A stick-thin figure, about five feet tall, covered with hair,” stood in the road.

When Fisher flipped his high beams on to get a better look, the hairy figure turned, and he could see two yellow eyes staring back at him. Then the figure vanished right there in the middle of the road.

Fisher would later learn what he saw was an albatwitch, and he was not the first person to see one.

The albatwitch is a 4-foot tall hairy ape-man seen around the Chickies Rock area of the Susquehanna River. Not to be mistaken for a juvenile Bigfoot, the albatwitch have more of a neck and have skinnier, more human-like proportions. They steal apples, hang out in trees, and throw this fruit at people if they get too close.

Local Native American groups both have stories involving the creature. The Susquehannocks reportedly painted images that match the description of these creatures on their war shields. The Algonquin told tales of a small hairy hominid creature, which they called Megumoowesoos.

Artwork by Strange Familiars.

The name albatwitch is believed to be a Pennsylvania Dutch/English compound word for “Apple-snitch.” However, if you look at the German origins of the name, you can come up with “Apple-elf,” “elf-spirit,” or “gliding, escaping elf/spirit.”

Legend says this small, hairy creature terrorized picnickers at Chickies Rock in the 1800s by stealing their apples and pelting the cores back at them.

Albatwitch Day

You can celebrate the legend of Pennsylvania’s Little Bigfoot at the 9th annual Albatwitch Day festival this Saturday, October 8, 2022, from 11 am to 5 pm. Lectures, authors, music, artists, vendors, food, trolley tours, ghost tour at Columbia Crossing 41 Walnut Street, Columbia, PA 17512. Visit albatwitchday.com for more information.

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You can own beautiful reproduction maps of East Hempfield, West Hempfield, and Columbia Borough from 1875 and 1899.

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