Updated: Jan 11, 2020
In Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania there's a mysterious seven-acre boulder field where rocks live, but little else does.
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As a kid, we visited Ringing Rocks State Park on class trips, enjoying the pastime of hammering a rock to hear a bell tone and exploring the hiking trails that lead to the highest waterfall in Bucks County.
But the same rock was scattered across most of our backyards, especially those who lived near Haycock Mountain and Stoney Garden Road. The boulders were our playground where we spent time exploring, climbing or simply sitting and talking with friends on them. As an adult, I'm much more fascinated by the natural occurrence that created them.
A little history
This captivating boulder field was created 200 million years ago, as the land mass that became Africa pulled away over time to create the Atlantic Ocean. The continental rift caused volcanoes, leaving behind layers of rock that oozed out through the sediment before cooling down.
The rocks that formed through this natural phenomenon are called diabase, which means “formed by fire.” During the Ice Age, Bucks County endured intense cold cycles, which resulted in the fractured bedrock, creating the field. The stones are piled high and go down deep, preventing exposure of soil, which would otherwise allow the area's common foliage to grow. As a result, little wildlife inhabits the zone.
Some claim that there are also supernatural forces at work, including abnormal magnetic fields and strange electromagnetic activity. They believe this activity is why there's no wildlife, arguing it explains why even insects steer clear and why birds won't fly above it.
Geologists will tell you one thing for certain, most rocks don't ring. It's a rare occurrence, found in just a handful of places around the world. Close by, Pottstown also has its share of ringing rocks.
Rocks that ring are known as lithophonic rocks. Not all of the rocks in the park ring. Those that do are considered “live” rocks. Those that don't, “dead.” The iron content is said to be the reason the live rocks make their special ring tone.
FUN FACT: Ringing Rocks and Stonehenge have a few things in common
The rocks of Stonehenge, the most legendary prehistoric rock formation and monument known to mankind, contain similar lithophonic properties as those found in Bucks County. This is likely due to their volcanic makeup. Only within the past decade, have the origins of the mysterious Stonehenge bluestones been linked to a quarry about 185 miles away in southwestern Wales. The theory is that they were painstakingly moved to their iconic circle for their acoustic properties.
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On that note
Getting back to Ringing Rocks: In 1890, local resident, J.J. Ott put on a remarkable concert for the Buckwampum Historical Society, using just the rocks to wow members and guests. I couldn't help but wonder what such a concert would sound like today, only having heard very unorganized sounds by kids and explorers with hammers.
That's how I found Stuart Wolferman who manages the band, Square Peg Round Hole. The band put on a literal rock show to demonstrate how such a performance could be orchestrated. I was so impressed! Check them out.
Stuart Wolferman is a publicist and songwriter by trade, working through his business, Unfinished Side, where he provides a full range of managerial and publicity services to its clients.
For more information, visit unfinishedside.com
Written by Heather Slawecki
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