From the Archives: The Life and the Legend of Charlie No Face – The Times

An illustration that ran with the Times' original story in March 2007.

Part of an occasional series in which the Times republishes popular and notable stories from our past. This story originally appeared in the Times on March 11, 2007. 

Ask 10 people about the legend of Charlie No Face, aka the Green Man, and you’ll hear a different story each time.

He’s a ghost. He’s a bogyman. He’s a poor factory worker who fell into a vat of acid. He was hit by lightning. He worked for a power company and was zapped while climbing a utility pole, or while climbing a tree as a boy to retrieve a kite, or to look at a bird’s nest.

He haunts Koppel-New Galilee Road in Big Beaver, or a deserted industrial area near New Castle, or an old railroad tunnel in South Park, or any one of a half-dozen other places around the Pittsburgh region.

He was one of the kindest human beings on the face of this earth, despite his horrible disfigurement.

That last one is the truth, according to a relative, but the truth has been obscured by decades of hyperbole.

The true story of Charlie No Face, which is how Beaver Countians typically refer to him, is a little less sensational than the legend.

His real name was Raymond Robinson. He lived in Big Beaver for most of his life and had a habit of walking a lonely stretch of highway between Koppel and New Galilee for pleasure.

He did this at night because the injuries he suffered at a too-young age were so horrific that he probably would have caused mass hysteria otherwise.

Robinson’s nocturnal wanderings, which spanned parts of at least five decades, attracted the attention of local folks, who told their friends. Friends told other friends, and the story spread across western Pennsylvania and neighboring states like ripples in a pond.