A manipulated photograph shows a trees with swirling sky and dark trees behind it.
Many reported sightings of the Albatwitch were near the Susquehanna River, either at night or early morning. Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program

Come fall, the view from Chickies Rock in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is stunning. Make your way to the top of this 100-foot high outcropping and you’ll be rewarded with a vista of the mighty Susquehanna River, lined by forested hills colored deep red and bright yellow.

But at night, or early morning, you may want to tread lightly in the area.

For this is Albatwitch territory—the miniature sasquatch that has been talked about, celebrated and allegedly sighted in the broader Lancaster County for over a century.

“Albatwitch means ‘Apple Snitcher’ in Pennsylvania Dutch,” said Chris Vera, a local Lancaster historian and driving force behind Albatwitch Day held in Columbia, Pennsylvania each fall.

According to Vera, there are newspaper articles dating back 125 years that describe campers going out into the woods to “Albatwitch hunt.” Going even farther back, some say an Albatwitch-looking creature was painted on the shields of Susquehanna Indians, though Vera admitted that they haven’t been able to confirm that.

Three purple walk through the woods with flash lights
A group takes a night-time hike through the woods near Chickies Rock, though not to find the fabled Albatwitch. Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program

According to those who have seen the Albatwitch, or have talked to someone who’s seen the Albatwitch, the creature is around four feet, furry and has yellow eyes.

It also loves apples, which is where it got its name and why on Albatwitch Day kids ceremoniously launch fruit into the woods.

Vera puts on Albatwitch Day with Rick Fisher, author of a book chronicling ghost sightings in Lancaster and York counties. According to Vera, Fisher once saw the Albatwitch while tracking him on Marietta Road, which is right by Chickies Rock.

According to Vera, Fisher also talked with two other people who saw a similar looking creature only a half-mile away.

“We know that the Chickiees area is a hotbed of activity,” Vera said.

A figure of Bigfoot stands outside a wood carving business
A figure of Bigfoot stands outside a wood carving business in Newberrytown, Pennsylvania. The commonwealth was once ranked the 3rd best place in the U.S. for Bigfoot sightings. Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program

While Albatwitch sightings are contained mostly to Lancaster County, Bigfoot is popular throughout the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. According to the Travel Channel, Pennsylvania is the third best place in the U.S. to find Bigfoot, with 1,340 apparent sightings.

Whether or not you believe these reports, there’s no denying that the local phenomena has a way of bringing people together. Pennsylvania Bigfoot Investigations has a lively 7,800 followers on Facebook, swapping stories and tips for hunting the creature. The Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society website provides hundreds of detailed sightings from folks across the Commonwealth.

And don’t forget Albatwitch Day, which brings in thousands of visitors for trolley rides, paranormal speakers, live music and more.

Why the Albatwitch legend started in Lancaster County, and what connection the creature has to the river, is still something that Vera, Fisher and others are trying to figure out.

“Are they using that river for something? Is it their food source? Their water source?” Vera asked.

While the legend of the Albatwitch remains a mystery, the natural beauty of the Susquehanna River can’t be disputed. All along the tributary are various hiking trails, boat and kayak launches and historic landmarks such as the Susquehanna petroglyphs that we encourage you to explore. Just don’t forget to bring some apples.

Do you have an Albatwitch or Bigfoot story to share? Let us know in the comments!

Comments

Dorene Choffel

Great article and very important history of our wonderful state.

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