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Bilger's Rocks
(The following article, "Bilger’s Rocks: A New Era" appeared in the Fall 1990 issue of "The Bulletin" of the Clearfield County Historical Society, Clearfield, Pennsylvania)

bilgers3-062k.jpg (59925 bytes)Nestled in a secluded area of Bloom Township in the heart of Clearfield County is a majestic formation of huge sandstone boulders known as Bilger’s Rocks. Named for the original owner, Jacob Bilger, Bilger’s Rocks are an integral part of the natural and social history of this rural area. When Bilger’s 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 Bilger’s 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 Bilger’s 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 Bilger’s Rocks"; sales of "pet" Bilger’s 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 Bilger’s Rocks by local artist Willard Dominick; two black and white photographs of Bilger’s Rocks taken forty years ago before the graffiti; a commemorative "deed"; and the donor’s name, memorial, business or organization will be placed on a wall that will be (was) erected at Bilger’s 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 Bilger’s Rocks is only the first step in the project. Once ownership is attained, The Bilger’s Rocks Association, Inc. (now a private, non-profit organization) will then turn it’s 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 Oliver.

The economic impact of proper development of Bilger’s 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 Bilger’s 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 man’s 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 Bilger’s Rocks. If you’re ever traveling on interstate 80, take the time for an hour or two break for a quiet walk through Bilger’s Rocks. There are those little known gems known only to locals as "Best Kept Secrets" and this is definitely one of Clearfield County’s!     Alan Bilger


Bilger's Rocks


Above is a map to Bilger's Rocks as well as GPS coordinates.


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