The following story is extracted from an account entitled: Der Feierich Drach vum Zinnekopp, or the Fiery Dragon of the Pinnacle, written by William H. Rinkenbach. The scene is set in Albany Township, Berks County.
“About 1925 there toiled up the northeastern side of the pinnacle ridge a party of hunters which included the late Levi and Morris Hemerly, brothers who were natives of the region and had often traversed the mountain in search of game. Nearing the summit, another of the party saw a wall-like cliff with a small rectangular opening in its face. He found that, beyond the opening which was too small to permit passage of a human body, there was a chamber with a sandy floor. Upon calling the brothers to inspect his find, he was told that this was one of the least known caverns of the mountain, and one brother remarked to the other: “Sie meene des waer der Blatz, wu der Drach nei waer.”
“Arriving at the summit, the memebers of the party halted to rest and eat. The remark quoted above had aroused the curiosity of one of the party, the brothers were plied with questions as to its meaning, and from them was learned the story of the fiery dragon of the Pinnacle.”
“For many years residents of the locality had on dark nights, beheld the spectacle of a huge, luminous body with a long shining tail emerging from the mountainside. As hazy and impalpable as a softly-glowing cloud, at times it would appear to move slowly along the side of the mountain; while at other times it could be seen against the sky as it passed form the Pinnacle ridge to the top of the nearby Donatskopp. After a time it would be seen to return to a point on the Pinnacle near where it had been seen emerging.
“This sight had been a source of awe and some fear to the parents and grandparents of the brothers. Majestically moving, ‘mit Feierschwanz’ against the inky background of mountain or sky, the Drach was awesome in size and appearance.”
“The element of fearfulness was inspired by an old story that many, many years before, the skeleton of a man had been found in one of the caves on the mountain, and while this was claimed to be the remains of an Indian, in the minds of many it was associated with the presence of the Drach. Later, two men disappeared suddenly and permanently from the region, and this was explained by some people by the existence of the Drach and the earlier finding of the skeleton.”
” However the Drach was not generally viewed as a dangerous and vengeful spirit, its appearance was not considered an omen of misfortune, and its connection with the foregoing events was considered not proven. To the rustic mind it simply existed, and its activities were to be viewed with the same wondering curiosity as those of other strange natural phenomena such as northern lights and fox fire.”
“From the old residents of the township inquiry has received confirmation of the story as told by the two brothers. True, some of the most positive admit never having seen the Drach, but can refer to individuals of unimpeachable veracity who have seen it.”
“So, among the old people at least there is a general acceptance of the existence of the fiery dragon.”
“It is to be noted that nothing has been heard of any activity on the part of the phantom during recent years. With the coming of the general use of English and education beyond the little red school house, there has come into existence a skepticism which probably has dealt a series of death blows to the legend. For the life-blood of ‘der feierich Drach vum Zinnekopp, like that of all legends, undoubtedly is a hearty willingness to believe in the legend.”
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Farmland in Albany Township, with a view of the Pinnacle in the background. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Berks County.
View from the ridge next to Pinnacle over looking Berks County. Pinnacle ridge on the left side of photograph. Courtesy of Photographer Luke David Sutliff.