Ringing Rocks Park is a 128 acre park nestled in the woods in Upper Black Eddy. Located within the park is a field of boulders, about 7-8 acres in size, that have an unusual property. When the rocks are struck with a hammer or another rock, they sound as if they are metal and hollow and ring with a sound similar to a metal pipe being struck. The park also has Bucks County's largest waterfall.

Besides the strange ringing properties of the stones, there are other mysteries surrounding this park. One odd thing about the park is that most boulder fields are the result of an avalanche from a mountainside collapsing. This boulder field, however, is towards the top of the hill, not the bottom. That means it didn't result from a rock slide. There is also no evidence to suggest that these were dropped here by a glacier as glaciers were not thought to have come this far south. How did this boulder field get to be like this?

The boulders are made of a substance called diabase which is basically volcanic basalt. This is one of the largest diabase boulder fields in the Eastern United States. The boulders have a high content of iron and aluminum and were thought to have broken apart during the Pleistocene Epoch probably about 12,000 years ago. The boulders were created through many years of freeze-thaw cycles that broke up the diabase into individual pieces, a process known as "frost wedging". The rocks may then have accumulated in this one area as the water saturated soil provided lubrication for the stones to "creep" downhill to their present location, a process known as "solifluction". This could have happened during the prior ice ages when overlying moist soil literally slid over the frozen permafrost below, carrying the boulders with it.

Others have more fanciful explanations such as radioactivity, meteorites, comets, or strange magnetic fields. Even supernatural possibilities have been suggested, and the area has been studied by those with an inclincation for the paranormal.

In June, 1890 Dr. J. J. Ott collected enough rocks with different pitches to play some tunes accompanied by the Pleasent Valley Band. This event took place at Stony Garden during the Buckwampun meeting and was, perhaps, the first ever rock concert.

This is a wide view of the boulder field in Ringing Rocks park. It almost appears as if it is a dry river bed, but it's not.

 
Photo by Chuck Rudy
 
A similar view of the boulder field

Visitors to the park enjoy climbing over the boulders. Many come with a hammer to bang on the rocks and others find small loose rocks to strike the boulders.

Some of the boulders in Ringing Rocks.

It is odd that this one area seems to be so devoid of life, both flaura and fauna. While the surrounding area is thickly wooded one has to look hard to even see a weed growing in the crevices. The boulder field itself is supposedly 10 feet thick and devoid almost completely of soil--the boulders are said to sit on top of bedrock. It is odd if true, since one would expect the entire field to be quickly buried in leaf litter after just a few years considering the amount of trees surrounding it. That there isn't much wildlife around is not surprising since most animals are probably scared away from an area constantly overrun by people loudly banging rocks with hammers.

A close-up view of one of the boulders, showing its weathering pattern. Some have thought that this pattern could suggest evidence for a meteorite of extraterrestrial origin, although that is not likely.

This rock was found cracked open. If nothing else it does show that the stones are solid.

The stark demarcation between the boulder field and the surrounding forest is strange. When whole civilations can be found buried under soil after just a few centuries how is it possible that this field of boulders still remains visible after thousands of years?

My father, Richard Hanauer, demonstrating the standard rock banging technique. Only a fraction of the rocks actually ring. The others, when struck, make just a dull clunking noise as one would normally expect when rocks are struck. Why some rocks ring and other don't is also a mystery. What is different between them? Some have thought that the rocks need to be loose so they can vibrate, but many of the rocks which ring are firmly wedged between other boulders.

Another view of the boulder field.

A wooded trail not far from the field of boulders.

 
Photo by Chuck Rudy
 
Layered rocks in the park.

 
Photo by Chuck Rudy
 
A frozen staircase of falling water, January 2008.

 
Photo by Chuck Rudy
 
Another view of a little waterfall in the park during the winter, January 2008.

            
Press the play button to watch the short video
 
Press the play button to watch the short video
The two short video clips above were made in October 2006 as a demonstration of the sounds that could be made by hitting the rocks. Both are in Apple's Quicktime format which works on both Macintosh and Windows computers, and both are less than a minute long.

 

Related items of interest:

Ringing Rocks Park Address:
Ringing Rocks Road
Upper Black Eddy, PA 18972

For more information call the Bucks County Parks & Recreation department at 215-757-0571.
Admission to the park is free.

A map of the park's location can be found here. (Use the small vertical slider bar on the left of the map to zoom in and out).

To obtain driving directions, click on this link and type in the starting location into the box at the top of the page (the destination is already filled in). Then click on the "Get Directions" button.

An article about a visit to Ringing Rocks Park, entitled Song of the Stones printed in Dignity Magazine.