(The following article, "Bilgers Rocks: A New Era"
appeared in the Fall 1990 issue of "The Bulletin" of the Clearfield County
Historical Society, Clearfield, Pennsylvania)
Nestled in a secluded area of Bloom Township in the
heart of Clearfield County is a majestic formation of huge sandstone boulders known as
Bilgers Rocks. Named for the original owner, Jacob Bilger, Bilgers Rocks are
an integral part of the natural and social history of this rural area. When Bilgers
Rocks are mentioned, most area residents have an immediate positive association of a
memorable sunny Sunday afternoon and a relaxing family outing in this mystical setting.
Antique photographs, postcards and newspaper articles serve as evidence that this unique,
natural wonder has been visited from outside of the area down through the decades.
The past twenty years have presented a totally different picture at Bilgers
Rocks. Use of the site for partying, night and day, and dumping of garbage, as well as
vandalism to the rocks themselves in the form of spray painting of the most objectionable
graffiti, caused families to question the wisdom of taking children there.
Two and one half years ago a core group of individuals interested in pursuing possible
avenues to restore and protect Bilgers Rocks met for the first time to start the
long journey toward this goal. Harry Fred and June Bigler, Dr. Richard Lines, Debra
Thomas, John Sobel and Eileen Anthony were the members of this core group. Many
enthusiastic and devoted additional members joined as the effort grew. Several different
options were explored but each came to a dead end. The final and only option available to
the group was to purchase the site. The price of $37,800 was agreed upon for the 120 acre
tract of land with J. H. France Refractories, the current owner, and the fund raising
campaign began in January 1990. These included: candy sales; drawing for a gourmet dinner
for six; a "Family Day at Bilgers Rocks"; sales of "pet"
Bilgers Rocks, and a "Hot Wings" booth at the Grampian-Penn-Bloom
Homecoming week. Each fund raiser was very successful, but the most successful and
substantive to date has been the "Buy An Acre" Campaign
where for a symbolic purchase of an acre, a donation of $315.00, the donor receives: A
print of an original painting of Bilgers Rocks by local artist Willard Dominick; two
black and white photographs of Bilgers Rocks taken forty years ago before the
graffiti; a commemorative "deed"; and the donors name, memorial, business
or organization will be placed on a wall that will be (was) erected at Bilgers Rocks
recognizing those who have made this endeavor possible. The final payment on the property
has been scheduled for December, 1990. Two grants, one from Clearfield County and the
other from the State , through the efforts of Rep. Jim Distler, have helped insure the
success of this project.
Purchase of Bilgers Rocks is only the first step in the project. Once ownership
is attained, The Bilgers Rocks Association, Inc. (now a private, non-profit
organization) will then turn its energies toward a clean-up of the graffiti,
securing the site from further vandalism, and finally, the thoughtful, creative planning
for the development into a natural, successful recreation/tourist attraction.
A memorable occasion occurred recently when the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy of
Pittsburgh gave a formal endorsement of the project in a letter from the President John
The economic impact of proper development of Bilgers Rocks to Clearfield County
cannot be overstated. Tourists from many states, as well as many foreign countries
(Scotland, France and Canada most recently) have been identified in the past three months.
This being accomplished without advertising signs or promotion of any kind.
Having visited Bilgers Rocks in the summer of 1998, after the urging of my cousin
Tom Bilger who visited the prior summer, I can attest to the positive accomplishments that
have occurred there as well as the urgency to do still more since this article was
written. The massiveness and extent of this sandstone formation is impressive combined
with the inherent contrasting beauty in the starkness of the stone and lushness of ferns,
larch and moss that cover much of the formation. It seems so idyllic that God must surely
have smiled upon this little corner of earth. Then you come across the first evidence of
mans more repulsive presence. The graffiti, broken bottles, aluminum cans, empty
cigarette packs rudely reminds the first time visitor that some of us have not been at all
kind to mother earth. It is equally clear however that there are also good and decent
people at work here who are trying to make a difference. The presence of recently
constructed structures such as an amphitheater, shelter, toilet facilities, picnic tables
and what appears to be a building housing a kitchen clearly extends and enhances the use
and enjoyment of Bilgers Rocks. If youre ever traveling on interstate 80, take
the time for an hour or two break for a quiet walk through Bilgers Rocks. There are
those little known gems known only to locals as "Best Kept Secrets" and this is
definitely one of Clearfield Countys! Alan Bilger