Ringing Rocks

IF YOU EVER find yourself in Milford, NJ, be sure to stop in at the Ship Inn–New Jersey’s first brew-pub. I did a number of years ago to cash in on a ticket for a FREE!! beer that I had received at the Frenchtown Wine Festival for doing an imitation of my English mother-in-law. She sounded a lot like a Monty Python character, bless her soul.

And after enjoying a refreshing beverage and maybe a plate of steamers, cross over the bridge there into Upper Black Eddy Pennsylvania and you’ll be on your way to another attraction—of an entirely different sort. Turn north onto Route 32 and in just a short distance you’ll see a sign for Ringing Rocks County Park.

The Ringing Rocks

The Ringing Rocks

You’re in for a strange sight. A open field of 7 or 8 acres strewn with boulders as if some giant had just poured them out of an immense bucket. But that’s not even the weirdest part. There’s a reason they’re called “Ringing Rocks”. If you bang on them with something hard, like another rock, they make a hollow metallic sound, like a hammer on an anvil. And there always seems to be plenty of visitors testing them out, many of whom bring their own hammers. The boulders are composed of diabase–volcanic basalt which contains large amounts of iron and aluminum. In the nineteenth century a Dr. J.J. Ott collected rocks of sufficiently varied pitches to play some tunes accompanied by the Pleasant Valley Band. A rock concert?

There is endless speculation as to how this field of boulders came to be. The first thought is that it was created by a receding glacier, but glaciers were not known to have traveled this far south. And glacial deposits would be in a valley or hollow, but this boulder field is actually at the top of a hill. Inevitably there are fringe explanations of meteorites, comets, strange magnetic fields and of course, paranormal activity, but most probably the rocks went through thousands of years of freeze-thaw cycles that broke them up into so many boulders.

Near the rock field is a lovely little waterfall, that may not have much water depending on the time of year you visit, but well worth the short hike to get to it.