On November 3, Mindi and I took a trip to Reading to do a bit of early Christmas shopping. While there, we decided to stop at the old Union Canal, so we could check out Lock 49. On August 17, 1875, Louise Bissinger, distraught over her husband's infidelities, took her three children on an outing along the Tulpehocken Creek. She had a basket tied around her waist, and when she reached the area of Lock 49, she grabbed her children tightly and plunged in. The children were still alive when witnesses arrived on the scene, but they drowned before the bodies could be pulled from the canal. The bodies were taken to Gring's Mill nearby. Later reports had it that while Mr. Bissinger mourned the deaths of his children, he callously was unmoved by the death of his wife. The stories have it that the ghostly forms of the Bissinger children are seen walking along the canal's towpath. Though the canal is now dry, the towpath is maintained by the Berks County Parks Department as a trail and it's commonplace to see joggers and cyclists along the old canal.
Lock 49 was a bit over a mile along the trail from the Wertz Bridge, a rather long wooden covered bridge bedecked with hex signs crossing the Tulpehocken. Shortly after entering the forested section of the path, after passing through what was the canal basin, I found a small conical structure about a foot tall made of three interlocked sticks. Similar stick structures have been previously found in areas of Bigfoot sightings and may be markers of some sort. This was probably in the area of what had been Lock 50. For the rest of the mile-long hike, I was hearing movement in the brush directly beside the path, movement which seemed to stop when I stopped and begin again once I started walking. This could easily have been squirrels but I didn't see anything there.
There were game trails leading all through the woods near Lock 49, though once again the skeptic in me wants to say these could have been due to the many local ghost hunting groups which have likely been all through these woods. I braved thornbushes and stray branches to follow these paths, which led from the maintained part of the trail clear through the canal bed and up the opposite bank, on which there was a second, less maintained trail.
The entire area is very near the Reading Airport, and the Berks County campus of Penn State, and not far from the Berkshire Mall.
Nick Redfern's book Man-Monkey is about the traditions of a shambling humanoid - what could be called a Bigfoot, though it is likely that it, like other British sightings, are something else - along the Union Canal in Shropshire, England. One aspect mentioned was the humanoid as the ghost of a suicide whose body was found in the canal. I had mentioned to him the coincidence of another Union Canal with a suicide in its history, as well. This possible presence of some sort of humanoid furthers the coincidence.
Tulpehocken is a Lenape (Delaware) word meaning "place of the turtle". The turtle, in Lenape lore, was the spirit entity which helped create the world. Like other cultures worldwide, the Lenape had the world resting on the back of a turtle. What does that mean? I don't know, quite possibly nothing.
Devotees of the ideas of Jim Brandon and Loren Coleman about so-called "twilight language" and the names that pop up again and again in Fortean contexts would be interested to know that there is a Warren Street in the area.