On a recent road trip toward Connecticut, we made a quick detour in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the Weather Capital of the World. After wandering through the adorably quaint downtown and saying hello to Phil the weather-predicting groundhog, we headed south toward Gobbler’s Knob.
Each February, hundreds of visitors and locals alike flock to this wooded location to see Punxsutawney Phil predict when spring will arrive.
The History of Groundhog Day
If you’re like me, you’ve probably wondered how it was we decided to trust a small mammal with our weather predictions.
Apparently, the tradition of Groundhog Day stems from the German’s Candlemas Day. Instead of a groundhog, the traditional Candlemas involved a hedgehog. But since it was probably a bit difficult for early Pennsylvania Dutch settlers to stumble across a wild hedgehog, they settled on a more easily found groundhog instead. The lore went that clear weather on Candlemas would mean a prolonged winter.
On February 2, 1887, the Pennsylvania settlers celebrated the first Groundhog Day. Over the years, the original tradition has evolved. Now if the day is sunny and the groundhog sees his shadow we say there will be six more weeks of winter.
Of course, one of the most well-known parts of the holiday is the groundhog himself, Punxsutawney Phil. If you choose to believe local lore, there has only ever been one Punxsutawney Phil. Despite the fact that groundhogs only typically live to be six or seven years old, Phil is said to have been sustained for more than 100 years by drinking a special dandelion potion.
Plan Your Visit to Gobbler’s Knob
Regardless of the time of year, Gobbler’s Knob is a fun place to stop and experience unique local history.
Curious how the famed site got its name? According to the sign, the name Gobbler’s Knob has two potential origins. The first is that the area was once home to large groups of turkeys called rafters. The second is that the name comes from the traditional act of “gobbling” up woodland creatures after a hunt. If you’re asking me, I prefer the former.
Granted, when we visited there wasn’t a ton going on around Gobbler’s Knob. But for Punxsutawney Phil’s big day a local told us that hundreds of visitors fill the hollow as early as 3 a.m. to claim their viewing spots. As for me, I think I’ll pass on the chilly morning visit, and stick to summer afternoons at Gobbler’s Knob.
Gobbler’s Knob, 1548 Woodland Avenue in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
Share Your Thoughts
I would love to hear from you! Have you ever visited the Weather Capital of the World? Would you make the winter journey to Gobbler’s Knob?