Punxsutawney Phil's Story

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There'll be two winters in the year.

So reads the old Scotch couplet that became the basis for the celebration of Groundhog Day. Pennsylvania's earliest settlers were German who brought with them the folklore of Candlemas Day, February 2nd, and adapted it to their new surroundings. As they saw it, if the sun shone on February 2nd and an animal - such as a groundhog - saw its shadow, there would be two winters that year.

In the early 1880's a few residents of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania began to celebrate the legend of the groundhog as a weather prognosticator. In 1886 the editor of the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper named the group the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. This group deemed a certain hilltop in Punxsutawney as Gobbler's Knob proclaiming that, from this knob, Punxsutawney Phil could accurately forecast the weather. If Punxsutawney Phil, upon emerging from his burrow, saw his shadow, there would be six more weeks of bad weather or two winters. If he did not see his shadow, the forecast would be for an early spring.

On February 2, 1887, the first official trek to Gobbler's Knob was made and Punxsutawney Phil gave his first official weather forecast. From this beginning, the Punxsutawney Groundhog, Seer of Seers, rose to fame throughout the world as an unparalleled weather prophet whose forecasts on February 2nd are recorded in the Congressional Record held in the National Archives and the Library of Congress in our nation's capital.

As news coverage of Punxsutawney Phil's forecasts became more widespread, so did the interest in the legend and the annual trek to Gobbler's Knob. In July of 1966, Gobbler's Knob was officially opened to the public for visits year round. In 1986, Punxsutawney Phil and members of the Groundhog Club journeyed to Washington, DC to meet President Ronald Reagan at the White House. In 1990, the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray became a smash hit at the box office. Phil became a television personage with his visit to the Oprah Winfrey Show, where he met many more of his followers.

Today, the popularity of Groundhog Day continues to grow. As February 2nd approaches each year, the town of Punxsutawney comes alive with special events, celebrations and fun as thousands of visitors come to enjoy the annual trek to see Punxsutawney Phil proclaim his forecast.


If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There'll be two winters in the year.