I love researching weird stuff and the unexplained in my quest to create better stories. I did write The Button, after all, so when I came across Ringing Rocks in Pennsylvania, I knew I just had to share my findings.
When white settlers came to the area that is now Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in the 1700s, local Native Americans passed on bizarre tales of a place completely devoid of life that even the birds refused to fly over. It was soon rumored among settlers that compasses would go crazy when visiting this place, and later on electronic equipment was said to suffer the same fate. But it was the rocks in this boulder field that truly captured their imaginations, for they possessed a kind of magic that made them ring like bells when struck by a rock or a hammer.
Wait, what? Yep, it’s true, or at least the magical rocks part of it!
Ringing Rocks Park is an unexplained acoustical oddity that has inspired wonder and awe for generations because no one knows why the rocks ring like bells. Strangely enough, the “property of ringing” is somehow “tied to the mysterious field of rock itself,” because none of the rocks in the surrounding forest ring.
So how do these things work? Well, for once size doesn’t seem to matter, because the “size of the boulder doesn’t necessarily correlate to the tone of ringing.” Boulders the size of a desk might tinkle “like dainty chimes,” ones the size of basketballs might sound “like deep gongs,” and others still might have multiple tones.
Not every rock in this place is an acoustic marvel—perhaps about one in six—but why some ring and some don’t is an utter mystery.
So what about the claims that Ringing Rocks is devoid of life? Not quite. While there is little vegetation or mammalian life among this seven- to eight-acre curiosity, visitors have noted the presence of spiders and other insects, as well as a type of lichen among the rocks. The claim that birds refuse to fly overhead or frequent the woods around the field haven’t been proven, nor has the claim that compasses and electronic equipment go wacky. I guess I’ll have to take a field trip to figure these two out.
What we do know is that local researchers early on in the 20th century found that if a ringer is removed from the park, it will still ring, so that means the bizarre phenomenon is tied to directly to the rocks.
We also know that the rocks are diabase, a type of volcanic basalt commonly found in the Delaware River valley. The boulder field is up to fourteen feet deep in places, and almost completely devoid of soil—the boulders are said to sit on top of bedrock. They don’t seem all that unique, since they’re so common to the area . . . and yet they’re not common at all, are they?
Many have tried to solve the mystery of Ringing Rocks over the years, and several theories have been presented. Some claim the ringers are hollow, but they’re not.
Some speculate the rocks need to be loose so that they can vibrate, but many ringers are firmly wedged between other boulders.
Geologists suspect it has something to do with the rocks’ extremely dense nature and a form of built-in stress, but they can’t say for sure.
Native American curses have been suggested, while others have even “more fanciful explanations such as radioactivity, meteorites, comets, or strange magnetic fields.” The area has been studied extensively “by those with an inclination for the paranormal” as well.
They don’t know either.
Ever come across something weird? Share it in the comments below! I’d love to swap tales . . .
Vlad V. is the author of The Button, Yorick, and Brachman’s Underworld. His novella “The Sleep Artist” was published in Insanity Tales, a collection of dark fiction, in October 2014 (Books & Boos Press). His most recent release is his novella “Float,” published in Insanity Tales II: The Sense of Fear in October 2015 (Books & Boos Press). His first kids’ book, The Moon is Dead!, was released in January 2015.
Vlad is also the founder and managing editor of The Storyside, a publishing collaborative dedicated to bringing the best in independent fiction to the market.
He is an editor, publishing consultant, freelance writer, and former newspaper correspondent for the Lowell Sun andFitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise. Learn more about Vlad at www.TheVlad.net.
His books are available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords.com, as well as most bookstores.