The Bus to Nowhere

The Bus to Nowhere is now one of my favorite urban legends.

I just learned about the Bus to Nowhere – which I shall call the “Bus” – a few years ago. This story takes place in Philadelphia.

Please note that Episode #74 of the podcast Twisted Philly tackles the Bus. The host, Deana Marie, identified herself as a lifelong Philly-area native with a decades-long fear of actually seeing the Bus. So, if you want a more thorough explanation, you should listen to her podcast.

Here’s how I understand the Bus legend, based on this podcast, several other websites, and several books:

The Bus belongs to SEPTA. SEPTA stands for Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. So, a SEPTA bus is the Philly equivalent of our PAT buses in Pittsburgh.

The Bus has no destination posted on any of its reader boards. In some versions of this story, the Bus lists no route number whatsoever. In other versions, this Bus identifies as Route 0. (Route 0 is not a real SEPTA route.)

It stops at no designated bus stops. It has no schedule.

You cannot just wait at a specific intersection at a specific time in hopes of catching the Bus.

The Bus shows up for people who are at the absolute lowest points in their lives.

This Bus doesn’t actually completely stop for anyone. The Bus just slows down, I guess? (Honestly, this sounds like some “real” public buses that I rode.)

If I were standing in Philadelphia proper and I were at rock bottom in my life, the Bus may or may not show up for me. If the Bus appears, and I decide to ride it, then I need to haul ass in order to actually get onto the Bus.

In other words, passengers on the Bus invest actual effort into boarding the bus.

The Bus has no actual destination. It just goes in a loop or something. Each passenger debarks when he or she is mentally ready to debark.

Passengers who rode the Bus and then left it have no clear memory of their time spent on the bus.

The Bus urban legend reminds me of Robert Frost’s poem Acquainted with the Night.

Today I told my husband about the Bus. He responded that this was probably based on a real-life SEPTA bus that travelled around Philadelphia on a training route. Thus, the bus had no posted route and it stopped at none of the bus stops.

Perhaps it slowed down and a SEPTA employee jumped aboard. Who knows?

Have you ever seen the Bus to Nowhere? Have you ever ridden on the Bus to Nowhere? Let me know in the comments!

Postscript, 11/12/18: Please note that the host of “Twisted Philly” swears in some of her podcast episodes. She actually cleaned up her language a bit after listeners complained about this in her iTunes reviews. I don’t remember how often she cussed in this particular episode. However, I wanted to warn you in case you intended to listen to this around kids. If you want to listen to just the “Bus to Nowhere” story on this podcast episode, then skip to minute 19:00.

The Mystery “Guardian” of Livermore Cemetery

Did a man who later claimed to be affiliated with Livermore Cemetery actually pursue several trespassers during a late night car chase in Derry Township, Westmoreland County? Did the Livermore Cemetery “associate” actually shoot at the trespassers and also try to force them off of the road as he chased them down?

I ask this because I actually heard this story on “The Dirtbag Diaries,” a national podcast for outdoor enthusiasts sponsored in part by the clothing company Patagonia. Each October, this podcast releases its Tales of Terror. On Tales of Terror Vol. 8, released in October 2017, contributor Joe Shearer claimed the following:

Shearer recounted that he and his friends admittedly trespassed in Livermore Cemetery.  They arrived in two cars. They walked through the cemetery. Shearer did not admit to causing any vandalism. He claimed that he and his friends merely visited the cemetery in order to spook themselves. The following happened as the friends returned to their two cars:

1.) A “mystery man” who did not identify himself allegedly pointed a gun at the group and told them to put their hands on one of their cars.

2.) Half of the group was actually still in the woods, so this half of the group ran out of the woods to their second car.

3.) The entire group was able to jump into cars and drive off.

4.) The “mystery man” with the gun allegedly got into his own auto and pursued one of the cars as he shot at them.

5.) This “mystery man” also allegedly tried several times to force one of the cars off of the road as he pursued it.

6.) Both cars managed to get away from the “mystery man.”

7.) The group riding in one of the two cars eventually managed to locate a state trooper on the main highway. They convinced the trooper to accompany them back to the Livermore Cemetery.  They located the “mystery man” at the cemetery. The “mystery man” allegedly identified himself as being associated with the Livermore Cemetery. The podcast then referred to the “mystery man” as an “overzealous grave keeper.”

8.) According to the podcast, the state trooper convinced both sides to shake hands and drop the matter.

If you want to listen to this specific podcast episode, here is the link on the podcast’s website. This specific story begins at 3:32 in the episode. This is the very first story told in Tales of Terror Vol. 8, and you can go to 3:32 to skip the show’s introduction.

Today, the local media website Triblive.com posted a story by Jacob Tierney about Livermore Cemetery. Tierney interviewed several people associated with the cemetery about issues surrounding vandalism and trespassing. I am very curious as to whether the officials at Livermore Cemetery are aware of this podcast episode about this alleged incident.

If the incident in this story did actually happen, I am sure that the self-identifying “cemetery associate” has a completely different perspective on what happened that night.

I’ve personally never been to Livermore Cemetery. I have picnicked many times at nearby Conemaugh Dam and Tunnelview Historic Site.

As I wrote in an earlier blog post, the actual town of Livermore no longer exists. Most of Livermore is actually under the Conemaugh River.

Livermore is (was?) near Blairsville and Saltsburg.  In the 1950’s, the US Army Corps of Engineers built the Conemaugh Dam on the Conemaugh River. This created the Conemaugh Lake and flooded Livermore. The town’s cemetery remains above the river bank.

Have you ever visited Livermore Cemetery?

PA “Witchcraft” Part 2: Hex Hollow

Now I have a real-life tale about a witchcraft allegation that ended in murder. This took place in Stewartstown (York County) in 1928.  So, just like the fictional Nancy Drew mystery The Witch Tree Symbol, this took place in South Central Pennsylvania.

I first heard about this event through Aaron Mahnke’s Lore Podcast. If you want to listen to Aaron Mahnke’s tale, it is Episode 62: Desperate Measures, dated June 11, 2017.

Keep in mind the following:

  • Large numbers of German immigrants settled in PA in the centuries after William Penn established his colony in the 1680’s. (In fact, I’m German-American on both sides of my family.)
  • In the 1600’s and 1700’s, immigrants from a specific region of Germany, with its own German dialect, settled in Eastern and Central PA. This group was known in German as the “Deutsch.”  Outsiders confused the word “Deutsch” with the word “Dutch.” As a result, outsiders referred to them as the “Pennsylvania Dutch.”
  • However, this group did NOT descend from the Dutch. (See above.)
  • Not all German immigrants to PA were Deutsch.
  • The term “Pennsylvania Dutch” developed to include a variety of Christian affiliations with different beliefs and practices. The Christian German immigrants in this region included the following affiliations: Lutheran, German Reformed, and Anabaptists. (The Anabaptists included Mennonites and Amish.)
  • I absolutely DON’T imply that all “Pennsylvania Dutch” observed the beliefs mentioned in this blog post.

So here’s what happened: in the late 1800’s / early 1900’s, a man named Nelson Rehmeyer lived in a farmhouse in what came to be known as “Hex Hollow,” also known as “Rehmeyer’s Hollow.”

Rehmeyer practiced “pow-wow medicine,” or “pow-wowing.” This practice depended on traditions of some Pennsylvania Dutch, as well as on the book Pow-Wows; or, Long Lost Friend. “Pow-wow medicine” included elements of faith-healing and witchcraft.

In the early 1900’s, Rehmeyer used pow-wowing to treat a very ill young boy named John Blymire. Blymire recovered.

As Blymire grew up, he studied “pow-wowing” himself. He set up his own “pow-wow medicine” practice.

However, as Blymire entered his 30’s, his health failed him again. He suspected that somebody put a hex on him.

In 1928, Blymire consulted Nellie Noll, the famous local “River Witch of Marietta.” Noll “confirmed” to Blymire that Nelson Rehmeyer had put a hex on Blymire.

Blymire believed that he needed to destroy Rehmeyer’s copy of Long Lost Friend and also bury a lock of Rehmeyer’s hair in order to break the hex and restore his own health.

Blymire recruited two teenagers to help him break into Rehmeyer’s house in “Hex Hollow.”  They confronted Rehmeyer. They demanded that Rehmeyer surrender his copy of Long Lost Friend.

Rehmeyer refused to surrender his book. So, the trio beat Rehmeyer to death and then they set Rehmeyer’s house on fire in hopes that this would break the hex.

The house did not burn down. All three men were tried, convicted, and imprisoned. The “York Witch Trial” made national headlines.

Rehmeyer’s house still stands.

York County renamed the hollow “Spring Valley Park.” Per my review of the county website, the public can rent a picnic pavilion at this park.

Disclosure: I was born in South Central PA. I lived in rural Perry County until I turned seven. My family patronized Amish businesses there. I’ve never been to Spring Valley Park. Also, I’ve never been to Dutch Wonderland, the amusement park in Lancaster. My family visited Knoebels Grove instead.

What experiences have you had in Central Pennsylvania?

Full Moon Friday!

So I love to sit in the dark and listen to scary podcasts.

I frequently recommend the podcast “Lore,” by Aaron Mahnke.  “Lore” presents a new episode every other Monday.

Well, I spent this past Monday on Mackinac Island. On Tuesday, I downloaded the new “Lore” episode that came out Monday.  The episode was about Mackinac Island!

This was Episode 91: Beneath the Surface.

Also, did you ever hear of the “Nain Rouge” (French for Red Dwarf) or “Demon of the Strait?” The folklore of Detroit says that it appears prior to disaster. The Nain Rouge possibly appeared to Detroit founder Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac before his own downfall. The “Lore” podcast told the story of the Nain Rouge in Episode 65: Doing Tricks.

Enjoy!

Be sure to visit my blog next week when I post about unique graves on Mackinac Island and the Upper Peninsula.

13 Haunted History Podcasts; Updated for the Next Friday the 13th

I updated my curated list of 13 haunted history podcasts especially for the next Friday the 13th, which will be on November 13, 2020.

I am very picky about audio quality and storytelling. I have shut off podcasts after only five minutes if said podcasts didn’t meet my standards. I recommend these thirteen podcasts because I enjoyed them.

These aren’t specific to Pennsylvania.

1.) Listen With the Lights On From WAMC Northeast Public Radio – This podcast highlights legends and lore of New York State. 

2.) Unobscured by Aaron Mahnke – Season #1 highlights the Salem Witch Trials. Season #2 features the Spiritualist movement.

3.) American Hauntings Podcast by Troy Taylor and Cody Beck (The entire first season is about Alton, Illinois and the entire second season is about St. Louis, Missouri. The second season includes a multi-episode feature on the Lemp family. The third season explores New Orleans! The audio quality of the episodes in the middle of the first season is not great. However, the audio quality improved greatly in the second season. I thoroughly enjoyed the history and storytelling.)

4.) Snap Judgement Presents: Spooked From WNYC Radio

5.) Lore by Aaron Mahnke

6.) Haunted Places from Cutler Media and part of the Parcast Network

7.) New England Legends by Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger

8.) Southern Mysteries Podcast by Shannon Ballard

9.) Southern Gothic by Brandon Schexnayder

10.) Southern California Ghosts and Folklore hosted by Susan Burns

11.) Why Is This Place So Haunted from Destination America  – I think that this podcast consists of only 2 episodes. Both are posted on iTunes. The first episode is about the Rhode Island Shore and the second episode is about Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

12.) Haunted Talks – The Official Podcast of The Haunted Walk, hosted by Jim Dean

13.) History Goes Bump hosted by Diane Student 

Check out these podcasts that, while not dedicated to haunted history, do have spooky podcast episodes:

Curious City by WBEZ in Chicago has one ghost story episode. Be sure to check out the October 2014 episode “We Ain’t Afraid of No (Chicago) Ghosts!“)

The Bowery Boys Podcast about New York City history has an annual ghost story episode.

Biscayne Tales: The Miami History Podcast has an episode titled “Ghosts of the Biltmore.”

I personally consider Twisted Philly by Deana Marie to be primarily a Pennsylvania “true crime” podcast. However, several episodes of Pennsylvania ghost stories and urban legends exist here. 

See the episode on John Tyler: Ghosts and the Vice Presidency from Presidential by the Washington Post

See these haunted history podcast episodes about Michigan:

Haunted Places from Cutler Media and part of the Parcast Network – Episode dated October 19, 2019: The Michigan Dogman.

I frequently recommend the podcast “Lore,” by Aaron Mahnke.  

Here is a “Lore” episode about Mackinac Island.  Episode 91: Beneath the Surface.

Also, did you ever hear of the “Nain Rouge” (French for Red Dwarf) or “Demon of the Strait?” The folklore of Detroit says that it appears prior to disaster. The Nain Rouge possibly appeared to Detroit founder Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac before his own downfall. The “Lore” podcast told the story of the Nain Rouge in Episode 65: Doing Tricks.

Here are haunted history podcast episodes for American Civil War buffs:

Why Is This Place So Haunted? from Destination America –  Episode 2: The Ghosts of Gettysburg

Haunted Places from Cutler Media and part of the Parcast Network – Episode dated March 14, 2018: Gettysburg Battlefield

Haunted Places from Cutler Media and part of the Parcast Network – Episode dated June 20,2018: The Myrtles Plantation

Haunted Places from Cutler Media and part of the Parcast Network – Episode dated July 3, 2018: The White House

Southern Gothic hosted by Brandon Schexnayder – Episode dated February 26, 2018: Ghosts of the Myrtles Plantation

Southern Gothic hosted by Brandon Schexnayder – Episode dated April 9, 2018: Buried Alive on Edisto Island

Southern Gothic hosted by Brandon Schexnayder – Episode dated July 2, 2018: William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak

Southern Gothic hosted by Brandon Schexnayder – Episode dated September 4, 2018: Fort Jefferson’s Most Infamous

Southern Gothic hosted by Brandon Schexnayder – Episode dated September 17, 2018: The Madison County Grey

Southern Gothic hosted by Brandon Schexnayder – Episode dated November 12, 2018: Phantom Flames of Tuscaloosa

Southern Gothic hosted by Brandon Schexnayder – Episode dated February 18, 2018: The Burning of Atlanta

Southern Gothic hosted by Brandon Schexnayder – Episode dated March 6, 2019: The Ghost Town of Cahaba

Southern Gothic hosted by Brandon Schexnayder – Episode dated June 26, 2019: The Ruins of Rosewell

Southern Gothic hosted by Brandon Schexnayder – Episode dated September 4, 2019: Skeleton of Longwood Mansion

Southern Gothic hosted by Brandon Schexnayder – Episode dated September 18, 2019: Lost Confederate Gold

Haunted Talks Podcast hosted by Jim Dean is a Canadian podcast, but it has episodes that feature Civil War ghost stories at Vicksburg and Antietam / Sharpsburg.

Invade A Ghost Town. Run For Your Life. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200.

Have you ever been to Livermore PA?

Me neither. No (living) people reside there now, and most of the town is under the Conemaugh River.

Livermore is (was?) near Blairsville and Saltsburg.  In the 1950’s, the US Army Corps of Engineers built the Conemaugh Dam on the Conemaugh River. This created the Conemaugh Lake and flooded Livermore. The town’s cemetery remains above the river bank.

However, I learned some urban legends about Livermore from a national podcast. I learned about the internet rumor that the town remains flooded from the Johnstown Flood of 1889. That a witch and a ghost train haunt the former town and its cemetery. That on at least one website, thrill-seekers document their trespassing adventures to Livermore.

Also, that at least one group of real-life midnight visitors to the Livermore Cemetery ended up running for their lives from a very real threat.

Here’s the the podcast:

Tales of Terror Vol. 8 from “The Dirtbag Diaries. “

“The Dirtbag Diaries” is podcast about real life outdoor adventures all around the globe. Every year for Halloween, they do a scary story episode. These Halloween stories are all still outdoor adventures. However, in each of the Halloween stories, the narrator ends up terrified (and or fighting for survival) in the course of said adventure. Volume 8, the episode for 2017, was the best yet.

Tales of Terror Vol. 8 includes five stories. The other four stories in Tales of Terror Vol. 8 are also fun to hear. However, the very first story in the episode is the Livermore ghost town episode.

I downloaded both of these from iTunes, but I’m linking here to each podcast’s actual website.

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