The Lost Children of the Alleghenies

Sept 12, 2022

I was recently doing some research on the Lost Turkey trail and saw a memorial on the map for the Lost Children of the Alleghenies. My interest piqued, the next time I was past Blue Knob state park, I took the opportunity to check it out.

Tucked away in northern Bedford county and just inside the eastern edge of state game lands #26, this site is accessible from the road by taking state route 869 to its intersection with Monument road. There you will see a sign directing you to take Monument road to the north.

Monument road is a typical PA backroad, about a lane and a quarter wide, not terribly rough (at this end) with lots of loose gravel and no posted speed limit. It would probably be safe to drive it around 25 miles an hour but, of course, most people likely drive it much faster than that.

(Two notes: there is no winter maintenance on Monument road and, north of the monument, it becomes nearly impassable so, if you go, approach from the south off SR 869 and go back to 869 on the way home)

Along the way, I came across a pull-off on the right (east side of the road) that indicated the location of CCC camp NP-7. This is unique in that, at least in PA, almost all of the CCC camps were operated by the state. The "NP" designation would indicate that this one was operated as part of the National Park system. There was also a map there of the camps within PA so, if fuel prices remain reasonable, I may take some road trips to see what, if any, remains of these other camps may be found.

Roughly 2 1/2 miles north of SR 869 (GPS coordinates 40.293839, -78.603082), I came upon a parking area and a sign indicating that I was as close as I was going to be able to get in the car. I left the parking area headed west on the Lost Turkey trail and it was well graded, nearly level with wooden bridges across both Rhodes run and Ciana run and it was a very easy walk to the monument that I'd guess to be about 1/4 of a mile from the parking area.

I've read multiple accounts of the story online and, while some of the details vary, they all agree that George (age 7) and Joseph (age 5) Cox wandered away from their home on April 24th, 1856 and got lost in the woods. In the next 2 weeks, hundreds of people converged on the area to help look for the boys but their efforts were fruitless until Jacob Dibert along with his brother-in-law Harrison Whysong followed the route of Jacob's recurring dream. The landmarks within the dream led them to the base of a birch tree along Ciana run where they found the bodies of the two boys who had died from exposure.

50 years afterward, a stone monument was erected where the birch once stood. Today it is covered by a small roof and surrounded by chain link fencing, the combination of which protects the monument from the weather as well as from vandals. Visitors sometimes leave toys at the site and/or weave sticks into the chain link to form crosses.

While there is an understandably somber feeling here, the site is remarkably pretty and the silence of the forest was broken only by the trickling of Ciana run and the songbirds flitting through the trees. I saw no one else on this trip and no other wildlife... which reminds me... the monument stands within state game lands and, I believe, even the area of Blue Knob state park where the parking lot is located is open to hunting. If you visit during hunting season, remember to wear orange. 100 square inches on your head (think ball cap or stocking hat) is the minimum.

I've also recently learned that there was a song written about the Cox brothers entitled Jacob's Dream. Performed by Alison Krauss, it was released in 2007 and, at least in my opinion, fits perfectly with the story.

Godspeed little ones.