mt pisgah

Mt Pisgah Altare In Beaver Springs, Pa.

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Near Beaver Springs Pa, a winding road up Shade Mountain in western Snyder County will take you to a beautiful stone altar, with an incredible view. A view worthy of the name Pisgah, where Moses stood to view the promised land.  
 
Two thousand feet high, it was once a favorite spot for Robert Cryan and his wife to watch the Russian Sputnik spacecraft float by, which it would do several times each night.   "We would just sit there, wait for it to come" Cryan said.  "The first time we saw it, we thought it was a star."  

On a clear day, Cryan said you can see "about 8 counties from here".
 
Cryan purchased 1,600 acres near Bald Eagle State Park in 1959, while living in New Jersey.  On this land, Cryan wanted to build an altar to express his faith in God.  Since he was not yet living in the area himself, he enlisted Forrest B Gordon of Juniata county to oversee the construction.  Gordon  had served 20 years as a pastor at the Bunkertown church and Free Spring Church Of the Brethren, before working for 11 years as a mail carrier.



It was Gordon's idea to forgo a contractor and bring in local residents to construct the site.  This was no easy task, as Cryan wanted it built in Old Testament form, as described in Deuteronomy 27:4-7.  That means no iron tools were to be used, and that it was to be built of stones.

Gordon enlisted Wilmer Shank, a man he knew to be good at working with concrete,  to build the altar.  Shank had no former experience working with mountain stone, but took on the challenge. Construction took place from May to October 1979 and the altar was dedicated in June of 1980.  The total cost was $10,000.

Over the years, Cryran has  planted more than a million trees on the property.  In 1981 he was named Pennsylvania Tree Farmer Of The Year, for his efforts here.

"I wanted to make this look nice, so in 1969 I planted over 300,000 trees, and since then I have over 1 million trees on this property." he said.

Cryan left it to Gordon to name the site, the only stipulation being that  Cryans name could not be included in the title.  Mount Pisgah is also the name of  a mountain ridge of ancient Moab, now in Jordan, northeast of the Dead Sea. Deuteronomy 34:1-3 tells us that it was from it's  summit that Moses viewed the Promised Land.   

"I bought the land with the intention of building this spot so people would have a place to come on Easter Sunday" Cryan was quoted as saying.  "I had really hoped more religious services would be held here though."  Cryan never envisioned the site as a place for weddings, but his wife did, and she was correct - over 700 weddings have been held there.


From 2006-2010 the site had many problems with vandalism, which were costly to fix.  But Cryan continued to remove the graffiti, and keep the property open to the public.
 
Security cameras now monitor the area.

The land, enrolled in a federal land trust prior to 2014, but continued to be owned and maintained by Cryan.  He opens the area  to hunters, hikers, nature lovers and  for hundreds of weddings and religious services. Reservations for the altar are now handled through the Beaver County Fair Association.

 A 2014 article in the Sunbury Daily Item tells of  Cryan's fight to have the land removed from the county tax rolls.  At the time the article was written, he paid over $8,000 a year in taxes, split between   Snyder County, the Midd-West School District, and Spring and West Beaver townships.  

The area is open to the public from Dawn to Dusk - daylight hours only.
It can be reserved for special services such as weddings and funerals.
For questions about rental of the Mount Pisgah Altar call 717-535-0070.
To Visit The Mount Pisgah Altare, the address is 
670 Mount Pisgah Altar Rd, Beaver Springs, PA 17812

There is an unofficial facebook location page for The Mount Pisgah Altar, which shows many photos that have been location tagged by wedding guests and visitors.