Sunday, January 27, 2013

Re-post: The Legend of Mary Opelt's Woods

I have received a lot of inquiries about "Opelt's Wood" in The Whiskey Bottle in the Wall. People want to know if it is a real place. It is definitely based on a real place so I am re-posting this blog post from this past August. Enjoy! 

Last week I was in Pennsylvania visiting my family and, while I was there, I had an opportunity to spend a little time revisiting a few of the places that served as the settings for some of the stories in The Whiskey Bottle in the Wall. Probably the most significant was Mary Opelt's Woods which was my model for Oliver Eberstark's Opelt's Wood throughout the stories. I grew up across the street from Mary Opelt's Woods and it was our playground for most of my youth.

The original inhabitant was a woman named Mary Opelt. I have heard that she had a brother who drove a team of oxen but I really don't know anything about that. But she was a strange woman, I have been told, who had a lot of cats. My father told me that she used to walk down Cherry Alley behind his house every day when he was a kid. She would go up to the convent where the sisters would give her lunch. He said she dressed all in black and did not smell very good. I don't know about these things but when I was a kid I could show you exactly where her house once stood.

Some of the stone foundation was still visible and it was in the middle of a thicket of brambles. There were rosebushes and lilies of the valley, daffodils and Stars of Bethlehem all growing riotously in a jumble. There were big clumps of chives and other herbs. There were blackberry and raspberry bushes and lots of apple trees and one pear tree. Sometimes we would dig in the ground around the foundation and find treasures – broken teacups and old shoes and spoons. Once we found this oddly shapped little glass thing shaped like a chalice. We took it home and Mom said it was an eye cup, that people used them to wash their eyes.

So I took some pictures of some of the entrances to Mary Opelt's Wood as they are today. I did not go into the woods – somehow it seemed I did not belong there now. But these are the woods that were my childhood playground and which inspired Opelt's Wood, Oliver Eberstark's home.  

From the top of Vine Road.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Very interesting Kathleen. Thanks for taking the time to post the pictures and the details.

  2. Kathleen...welcome home! I just got your email. The photos are great, a good companion for the stories. and help embellish the historical angle.
    More on email. Alohas, Kiana

  3. Thanks so much. I love these photos!!!

  4. Growing up on Iron Run Road and going to Q of the W school I spent tme in these woods too. After reading your stories it is nice knowing that I know Opelt Wood and the saw mill and so much more from your books.

  5. Thank you, John. I'm really happy to hear you are enjoying my writing. There is more to come!!!

  6. Awesome collection!! that you have share here. It’s really inspiring! I think this is kind of sideshows. I feel so happy by seeing this collection It is amazing that a nice big image can totally transform into a nice looking.


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