This Ohio achaeological curiosity has long been associated with stories of devil worship, ghosts, and all-around creepiness. They say that upright sticks, arranged in a particular pattern, signal whether it's safe to go or not. If you find yourself driving under the big rock wall some late night, and you see bizarre stick formations, you might want to keep going.

Written Rock

The confusing part is that there are two ominously overhanging rock formations near each other along Clear Creek Road (County Road 116), which runs off Route 33 just south/southeast of the Fairfield County line. (For a long time I had this story listed under Fairfield County.) The one pictured above is Written Rock, as photographed by a friend and contributor. Then there's Leaning Rock.

Leaning Rock

This rock--often regarded as the witch's rock with the signal sticks--is sometimes called Leaning Lena. Lena is really impossible to miss once you've made the turn onto CR 116/Clear Creek Road. (There's an abandoned gas station at the corner.) Once you've gone about a mile--maybe less--you'll pass beneath the massive rock face of Leaning Rock. It's intimidating for reasons entirely non-supernatural.

Scary witchcraft tales from the thick of the Wayne National Forest. But in the daytime both Written Rock and Leaning Rock are fairly harmless tourist spots for people interested in ancient Ohio history. Much like the Rock House formation near Old Man's Cave, each is a sort of primitive graffiti wall--a sandstone outcropping covered with carvings that go back to the earliest Europeans and then even further back than that. The recent graffiti, the spraypainted stuff, doesn't last as long, as they tend to scrub the rock wall fairly regularly and take the majority of it off.

Roo, a good friend of the site from Circleville, sent this report from Written Rock:

It was the scariest thing, because we were talking about how satan worshippers supposedly go out there and do seances and sacrifices and scary shit like that, and people say the way you can tell if it's safe to go or not is if the sticks are standing up against the leaning rock at the entrance. If they're laying down it's supposed to be not okay. So the sticks were down. And yeah, we were slightly freaked out. But we're young and stupid so we continued.

We parked the car and said, alright, we're gonna go across the swinging bridge and see if we can get murdered or sacrificed. So Lisa and I got out of the car. We had only walked about ten feet from the Explorer and all of a sudden we heard footsteps running toward us. Pitch black, can't see shit. We freaked out and hauled ass back to the car. We got in and started to drive off, and as we got further and further down the road it got narrower and narrower, but we were calm because we thought we'd gotten away from the weird satan worshipping freaks. But no.

We came around a curve and there was a guy in a black robe standing in the middle of the road. It looked like he was wearing one of those pig/hog mask thingies and he had his head down like a fucking weirdo. So Carlos, being the smart person that he is, floored it and was not about to stop for any weirdo in a black robe waiting for us to stop so his buddies could swarm and beat our asses. As we got close to him he jumped out of the road.

Then we left. Because let's face it, that's too much action for one night. Did you like that story? Because it's true...even though I find it hard to believe myself and I was there.

It sounds like there might be something to the devil worship stories here, unlike so many other places, so please be careful if you decide to make the trip. Personally I wonder if "devil worship" actually goes on; I met with a police officer once who tours the country giving presentations to local departments about "Satanism," and it all seems to be kids messing around. Show me a genuine satan worshiper sacrificing an animal and praying to the devil, and I'll show you somebody with genuine mental problems unrelated to "devil worship."

At any rate, let me know how it goes, if you visit the evil rocks of the Hocking Hills and make it back alive.

Karen sent this photograph of Leaning Rock with the terrifying witch sticks clearly visible. Special thanks to Phil M. for the winter photographs.

Ohio's Hocking County Written Rock
Ohio's Written Rock