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Learn the History of Groundhog Day With a Visit to Gobbler’s Knob

Note: This post was updated in January 2023 with new information.

Ceremonial stage at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

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.

Punxsutawney Pennsylvania signage with ceremonial groundhog photo at downtown library

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Stone archway that says Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania

How did Gobbler’s Knob get 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.

When is Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada on February 2.

Plan Your Visit to Gobbler’s Knob

Welcome sign at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Regardless of the time of year, Gobbler’s Knob is a fun place to stop and experience unique local history.

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. Today, those festivities are managed by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

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
Signage describing Groundhog Day at Gobbler's Knob 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?

Have you ever wondered how we started entrusting our weather predictions in a groundhog? Discover the history of Groundhog Day with a visit to Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania! Learn about how this offbeat holiday came to be, see the ceremonial stage and get a peek at Phil himself!

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Comments (2)

I have gone during the summer before, and loved it. However this year I went on Groundhog Day! Unbelievable atmosphere! You have to be there to experience it! Awesome entertainment from 3 am on! Fireworks at 6:30! What a memorable time!

Thank you for the information on Groundhog day especially punxsatawney Phil. I am originally from Pennsylvania and have never been to Gobblers knob. Would love to go someday as I now live in New York. My sister loved groundhog day and she passed away that day in 2016.I celebrate her life on this day. Thank you for making my day.

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