Stovepipe The Legend

In a desolate town that lays just an hour south of Pittsburgh, Pa is home of a chilling urban legend that dates back to the late 1800’s. Known as a coal mining town, Rices Landing has been left frozen in time.

The town sits right along the Monongahela River where coal barges can be seen treading up and down the river. Though the town is quite during the day, at night is a different story. On brisk autumn nights, it is not unusual to hear people shouting the name Stovepipe.

The urban legend stems far back as the late 1800’s as the workers began to fight for unions for the coal mines. It was all out war among the coal mining community and the owners. There was a lot of blood shed as workers risked their lives to stand up for what they believed in.

A worker by the name of Stovepipe Kelly has been noted to be a possibility of who haunts the forest area. Kelly always wear a stovepipe hat which landed him the nickname “Stovepipe Kelly”. Although the story is a bit unclear, and depending on who you talk to, there are two versions of the story.

In one of the versions, Kelly was one of the main activists of the union movement. He was hated by the owners of the coal mine who stopped at nothing to shut Kelly up. On a dark and gloomy night, the owners chased Kelly through the windy trail that snaked its way through the hillside of the area.

At the bottom of the hill was a horseshoe bend that Kelly misjudged and was thrown from his buggy that was the very same weapon that decapitated him. In the morning when locals found his body, they noticed that his neck had been stretched out and his head was never recovered...bounding Kelly to search for his head to this day.

In another version of the story, Kelly had been having an affair with the wife of one of the coal miner’s. On a dark and rainy night, Kelly took the trail down the hillside as a shortcut home. 

At the bottom of the hill stood the husband of the wife who Kelly had an affair with. The coal miner hit Kelly’s buggy and threw him off the buggy causing him to be decapitated by the very same buggy.

When his body was found, the town’s people could not find his head trapping Kelly to the area to find his head.

Several other stories come about later on. One of these stories told of a young boy who was playing on the rail road tracks and had gotten stuck on the tracks as a train rushed towards him. Unable to free himself, the train decapitated the young boy. Another story told of a teenager who was going home after leaving a party.

Driving carelessly, he was unable to make the sharp bend around “Horseshoe Bend” as the car hit head on with some rocks.

The teenager was thrown from the car and landed in a stovepipe. This story started to circulate because there had been a rusty old car siting in the woods.

No matter which story is the correct one, on a dark night in autumn, if you listen, you will hear people shouting “Stovepipe” in the hopes of seeing the disembodied apparition. Be warned that, if he does appear you might not have a head on your shoulder once the night is over. 

Story Credit: Joe Tokish, PA


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