Spring Clean-Up Scheduled for March 23 for Award Winning Scripture Rocks Heritage Park

BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – A fun community volunteer clean-up day at Scripture Rocks Heritage Park is scheduled for Saturday, March 23 (weather permitting).

Beginning at 9:00 a.m. on March 23, volunteers young and old are needed to help clear the trails of winter debris and assist with a list of other general improvements to get the park ready for the 2019 visitor season. Everyone is welcome and this event qualifies many groups for community service hours.

Scripture Rocks Heritage Park, located on Route 28, 1/8 mile south of I-80 Exit 81, serves to preserve the legacy of Douglas M. Stahlman, his dedicated rocks, and to make the history of the man’s legacy accessible to all who are interested in his story and in his impact on the Brookville area. Stahlman was an eccentric, reclusive preacher, and a self-proclaimed prophet who was born and raised in Jefferson County in the mid-nineteenth century and resided in Brookville from 1907 to 1915.

Stahlman carved the rocks in the early 1900s after living a life of faith and scandal. He was born in Jefferson County and moved around the country. He got involved with the teachings of John Alexander Dowie, a faith healer and evangelist. Since Dowie was a faith healer, when Stahlman’s wife got sick, he ended the care she had been receiving and attempted to heal her through faith. She later died, and Stahlman was arrested for her death. After the arrest, his children were taken away from him.

Leaving prison, Stahlman came back to Brookville and became an evangelist. When that ended, he became a hermit living on Altar Rock, writing his books and carving the stones. He was committed to a mental institution in 1915 and died there in 1942.

Central to Stahlman’s messianic project are the so-called “Scripture Rocks,” a collection of over 500 “dedicated” rocks – many of which are inscribed with Biblical verses and spiritual commentary – dispersed in various locations around the wooded hillsides surrounding Brookville in Jefferson County.

Stahlman’s tortured life is one of the reasons Ken Burkett, Executive Director of the Jefferson County History Center, feels the park is so popular.

“I think it’s the mystery and the intrigue of the park that brings people here,” Burkett said. “He dedicated this area as a place to pray and connected it to some of the changes in the non-Catholic religions going on at the time. We talk a lot about what Stahlman would think about the park, but he created these rocks for people to see.”

The second “museum” is the hiking trails around Scripture Rocks. The uniqueness of the attraction, some say created by a madman in the 1900s, gained the attention of the American Association of State and Local History.

The Jefferson County History Center also received the PA Museums prestigious S. K. Stevens award for the Scripture Rocks Heritage Park at the organization’s annual meeting and awards ceremony in 2018.

This award is in honor of Sylvester K. Stevens (1904-1974) who was a noted Pennsylvania State Historian and, from 1956 to 1972, executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Photo: Ken Burkett, JCHS Executive Director receiving the S. K Stevens award from Rusty Baker, PA Museums Director.

PA Museums presents S. K. Stevens Awards to those projects that have won a national award from both the American Association of State and Local History and a PA Museums Special Achievement Award. In addition to the honor, the JCHS also received a $500.00 award.

While the park has gained statewide and national attention, Burkett, the archeologist, sees it as gaining archeological attention in the future.

“I have worked with Native American engravings before,” he said. “They’re over 1,000 years old. I believe that the Scripture Rocks here will be around forever, outlasting Brookville.”

There is more information at the Jefferson County History Center’s website.

Along with general help for volunteer clean-up day, chainsaws and leaf blowers are especially needed. For more information, contact the Jefferson County History Center at (814) 849-0077 or email kburkett-jchc@windstream.net.

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