Since the dawn of mankind and its numerous religions there have been many that feature some form of Hell or underworld, typically portrayed as a place of eternal punishment, torment, suffering, and despair, but depending on the culture and religion can also be an intermediary period between incarnations or simply a dreary land of the dead. The various versions of Hell can be another dimension or plane of existence, or an actual place in our own physical reality located deep in the bowels of the earth. While there is much debate on whether any of the many incarnations of Hell is a literal place, there have always been persistent stories that it not only exists in some form, but that it can also be accessed from the land of the living via tunnels, gateways, doorways, or portals. Here we will look at various mysterious locations around the world that, despite being just plain creepy, are said to be actual entrances to Hell itself.
One of the more well-known such portals to Hell is located exactly where one might expect to find one, if they exist at all; a spooky looking bleak cemetery. Tucked away in a rural area of the US state of Kansas lies a sinister patch of land called Stull Cemetery. Its eerie, quiet atmosphere and rural setting have perhaps understandably bred many dark legends and stories, and the intense paranormal activity and hauntings associated with it has earned it the nickname “America’s Most Evil Graveyard.” Here is a place also long associated with Satanic cults, witchcraft, and shadowy figures carrying out bizarre rituals and human sacrifice by moonlight. Oh, and it supposedly has its own doorway to Hell.
Sitting at the black heart of this supposedly evil place is a decrepit, long abandoned church which may have once been elegant but is now mostly a feral, skeletal shell and collapsed piles of weed choked rubble. While it may not look like much now, this church has for over a century been said to be an actual portal to Hell. The local legend apparently originates in 1850, when Lucifer is said to have used the church to emerge into the cemetery from Hell and summon up the restless spirits clinging to it. From that point on, the Devil supposedly began to pass through the gate twice a year, once at midnight on the Spring Equinox and once on Halloween, and over the years was said to have even fathered a child with a witch living in the area. This abomination is said to have been born with “wolf hair” and to have been badly, hideously deformed. The horrific child soon died and its alleged grave can be seen even today, right beside a twisted old tree that is said to have been a place where they hung suspected witches during those days.
The church itself fell into disrepair long ago and its roof collapsed in the 1920s, yet it was widely claimed by witnesses to repel rain, and that despite not having a roof the interior would remain completely dry even during intense downpours. Frightened locals eventually mostly tore the building down, but the old church was said to still be used by Satan, and up until the late 1980s hundreds of rowdy people would show up at midnight on the Spring Equinox or Halloween in the hopes of getting a glimpse of something strange, causing so much damage in the process that in the years since the cemetery has been off-limits to the general public. Even so, there are still numerous sightings of strange things going on at the church, such as floating lights, fleeting, shadowy figures that vanish into thin air, and rings of flame that seem to spontaneously form from nowhere, with no discernable material they could be burning from. One of the most famous spooky stories surrounding Stull Cemetery is that when Pope John Paul II visited Colorado in 1983, he supposedly had his private plane take a completely different route so as to fly all the way around Stull Cemetery, such was its repulsive evil. It is another eerie, although uncorroborated, tale for an already eerie place.
Rural, out of the way places have a way of being host to portals said to lead directly to Hell, and another can supposedly be found buried away within thick woods in Blue Ash, Ohio, in the United States. Here there is a dark and spooky series of tunnels that actually serve as a storm drain, but have accrued a rather ominous reputation as a place where all manner of devil worshippers congregate to carry out their enigmatic rituals in the dark away from prying eyes, and has earned it the nickname “Satan’s Hollow.” Within the claustrophobic inky darkness and dank, stagnant air of the tunnels is various graffiti depicting the number “666” and other imagery associated with the Devil, as well as warnings scrawled out reading things such as “GO BACK” and “HELL LIES AHEAD,” and there is said to be an “altar room” used for demonic magic and human sacrifices.
The tunnels have been ground zero for a variety of high strangeness. People who pass by claim that there can often be heard groans or screams emanating from the blackness or a strange glow flickering within, and there is supposedly a pitch black apparition called the “Shadow Man” that prowls the depths here, often said to be an actual demon from Hell. This is already perhaps creepy enough, but not only are the tunnels dark, scary places, but they apparently hold within them a doorway to Hell from which various demons emerge to stalk about the area. Local investigator and blogger Rick Fenbers has said of the story:
It’s one of the best known, but least seen, urban legends around here. A group of Satanists supposedly used to meet there in some type of altar room and conduct their rituals. … They must have been pretty good, because the legend claims they managed to open a doorway to hell.
Perhaps not surprisingly, with all of the reports of the paranormal going on at the location, “Satan’s Hollow” has attracted some intrepid investigators of the strange who have dared to venture into the tunnels, and some of these have come back with videos of their excursions. One local paranormal investigator and filmmaker by the name of David Scott took a video tour of the eerie site, which would turn into what he deemed “one of the scariest locations I have ever investigated.” Scott and his crew ventured deep within the tunnels in search of the infamous altar room, penetrating into the dark and squeezing through tunnels that became almost too narrow to pass through until they finally did manage to find an open, square room with “religious-like markings” scrawled all over the walls. Scott would say of the room:
It looked like something you would see in an exorcism film. The scariest part of being in this location was how screwed we were if some bad people entered the room and wanted to do us harm. We were, at the time, unarmed and there wasn’t an easy escape route. We were miles underground and stuck in a room with only one exit and one entrance.
Here in this room it was claimed that they could hear strange noises that sounded like footsteps rapidly making their way through the shallow film of water that flowed everywhere, and they reported that the energy in the vicinity changed. They then made contact with an entity through a device they call a “spirit box,” whatever that is, of which he said of their session:
John turned on the spirit box and we began to ask questions to whatever spirits may be lingering around. Til’ this day it was one of the most responsive box sessions we ever had. There was an evil and intelligent spirit in those tunnels and it was happy to have a conversation with us. After asking around 20 questions and receiving a direct intelligent response almost each time, we decided to head out. Normally, we would have continued on, experimenting with different devices and attempting to catch EVPs. In this case I decided to call the investigation short as the responses we were receiving through the spirit box were extremely negative. The voices coming through claimed to be the devil himself. They confirmed there was a shadow man haunting the tunnels and that a man named Jake had been sacrificed down there.
The Satan’s Hollow, which lies on private property, has also attracted curiosity seekers from all over, to the point where authorities are often called in to remove trespassers but yet people still manage to sneak in. Law enforcement officials have been quick to dismiss the stories as just urban legend, saying that there is no evidence of anything paranormal going on here and that the spooky sounds from the tunnels are just the echo effects they produce. Authorities are also adamant that the stories of Satan worship here are exaggerated at best, with one officer, a Lt. Steve Schueler, saying “We’ve never had human sacrifice or any animal killings. We’ve never had any of that.” Nevertheless, the tunnels still attract thrill seekers and investigators, and probably will as long as the strangeness associated with them persists.
Yet another alleged portal to Hell can be found in California. The aptly named Devil’s Gate Dam was constructed in 1920 in the Pasadena area of California to control flood waters coming down the San Gabriel Mountains through the Arroyo Seco, and was named for an odd rock outcropping nearby that looks vaguely like a horned devil face complete with pointed chin. Even before the dam was built the area was steeped in dark myths and legends by the Native peoples here, and it was said to be the haunt of numerous evil spirits.
In later years, the area would lose none of its purported paranormal qualities, and in the 1940s attracted the attention of Cal Tech rocket scientist and noted occultist Jack Parsons, one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Labs and also heavily involved with a mystical cult called the Ordo Templi Orientis, which was based on the teachings of famed occultist and magician Aleister Crowley. Parsons believed the energy of the Devil’s Gate Dam area to be potent, and indeed Crowley himself had allegedly called it “one of the seven gates of Hell.” Because of this mystical energy, Parsons took part in a variety of magical rituals here which are said to have actually succeeded in opening a portal to a dark dimension, possibly Hell itself, from which negative energy and strange, twisted entities could pass over into our world. Indeed it is rumored that Parsons intentionally chose this area as the location for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory campus primarily due to this magical energy, which he believed could be channelled and harnessed to help in their endeavors.
Fueling the sinister reputation of the Devil’s Gate Dam was a series of mysterious vanishings and murders of children here in the 50s and 60s. 13-year old Donald Lee Baker and 11-year old Brenda Howell both went missing as they rode their bicycles through a recreation area near the dam in 1956, vanishing to leave behind only their bicycles and a jacket. 13 years later their disappearance would be solved when serial killer Mack Ray Edwards finally confessed to murdering the two children and burying their corpses under the asphalt of a freeway.
Two other vanishings that happened at the Devil’s Gate Dam were not so easily solved and indeed to remain a total mystery. In March of 1957, 8-year old Tommy Bowman was hiking in the area with his family when he ran ahead, rounded a bend, and vanished from the face of the earth. Despite extensive searches and investigation, he has never been found. In 1960, 6-year old Bruce Kremen was at a YMCA summer camp in the vicinity of the dam when he told his counselor he was not feeling well. He then made his way back to the nearby camp, only about 300 yards away and seemed to have stepped off the face of the earth. He never arrived at the camp and was never found, despite intensive searches.
Adding to the strangeness blanketing the area is a bridge which attracts an inordinate number of suicides, called simply Suicide Bridge, as well as an intensely haunted house called the Cobb Estate. All three of these locations are sometimes referred to by paranormal investigators as “The Arroyo Triangle.” The Devils’s Head Dam continues to accrue reports of weirdness to this day, with sightings of strange apparitions, eyes glowing and flickering in the dark, and screams and sounds of torment coming from a dark tunnel in the dam sealed off by a locked gate allegedly to keep things from getting out. Whether it is really the location of some portal to Hell or not, the Devil’s Gate Dam is certainly imbued with its share of scary stories and lore.
Staying within the United States for now, we come to New Jersey, which also has its own reported gate to Hell. Located in the city of Clifton there is a series of tunnels built as a storm drain and which were once known as the Weasel Brook underground. It is said that deep down in the darkness of the tunnels is a tunnel that leads to a gate that will lead a person straight to Hell and face to face with none other than Satan himself, and that this gate is supposedly guarded by a miniature demon with supernatural speed called “Red-eyed Mike.” The gate to Hell here is a chasm found in a chamber adorned with Satanic graffiti and the odd message “Tom made it,” and which is located at the end of a grim, narrow tunnel. It is said that anyone who enters the square-shaped hole will not come back out, and that if one throws a stone into it the stone will be tossed back out by an unseen force lurking within. This all most certainly urban legend, but intriguing nevertheless.
The United States certainly does not have the monopoly on gateways to Hell, and indeed one of the oldest and most infamous one can be found in the Czech Republic. Constructed between 1253 and 1278, the majestic Houska Castle is said to have been built specifically to cover a hole which led straight to Hell, said to be a bottomless pit full of tormented souls, which would vomit forth all manner of horrific creatures birthed from the underworld. These demonic monstrosities were said to emerge from the hole to fan out across the countryside at night, terrorizing local villages to the point that people were afraid to leave their homes after sunset, and certainly would not go anywhere near the hole even in daylight. Such was the ominous reputation of the hole that prisoners were sometimes thrown into the pit as punishment, with the caveat that they would be released if they could climb back out. Not many did, and even when they did there were strange tales surrounding their reemergence. In one story, a prisoner who had been thrown into the hole began screaming with such abject terror that he was hoisted back out to find that he had aged 30 years within moments.
The persistent tales of marauding demons and dark forces at work within the malevolent hole, as well as the growing panic of villagers in the area, is said to have prompted construction of Houska Castle in an effort to block the gateway. There are many odd details about the castle that lend weight to this theory. Although the castle has a large number of windows, very few of them are actually real, and most of them have thick walls directly behind the glass. There is also the odd fact that the castle had no water source, was not near any trading routes, and remained without occupants for years. The frescoes and artwork found within the castle also point to its true purpose, such as pagan imagery denoting demonic creatures, not common in most castles of the time, as well as various depictions of St. Michael fighting dragons and images which have hints and leanings of a Satanic undertone. It is said that the purported demonic powers of the castle were the reason why Nazis chose it as a base of operations during World War II, and that they carried out secret experiments trying to harness its enigmatic power.
If Houska Castle was indeed built to cover up a pit to Hell, then it seems it was only partially successful because strange stories have continued to emanate from the location to this day. Visitors to the lower floors have long claimed that at times there can be heard the sound of what seems to be claws or talons scrabbling and clawing at the floor underneath, as if something is trying to break free from underground. There are also reports from the chapel on the premises, which is said to be built directly over the hole itself, of a “chorus of screams” that allegedly pours forth from the bowels of the earth below. There are also numerous reports of a wide variety of strange apparitions roaming the cold, stone halls and corridors of the castle. One such apparition is said to be a headless corpse that lurks within the courtyard spewing blood, and there are also featureless shadow people, winged creatures like warped, giant bats, and even a bizarre entity said to look like a combination of human, frog, and a bulldog. Adding to all of the other weirdness are reports of levitating objects, numerous inexplicable thumps or bangs, visitors being tapped, pushed, or even hit, and roaming cold spots, all of which have made Houska Castle a popular destination for paranormal investigators.
One alleged pit to Hell that has generated quite a lot of debate in recent years is the so-called “Well to Hell,” of the cold expanses of Siberia, in Russia. The story goes that a crew of Russian engineers and geologists were drilling an ambitiously deep borehole in the desolate wilds of Siberia, which penetrated up to 14.4 kilometers deep (about 9 miles) into the earth when it broke through some unseen cavern deep down below to reveal something extremely bizarre. When temperature readings were taken from the borehole they revealed an astonishingly scorching 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (around 1,100 degrees Celsius) near the bottom, but even stranger still was what they purportedly picked up when they lowered a sensitive, heat resistant microphone designed to hear the sounds of plate movement down into the murk.
Supposedly, the microphone picked up what sounded like a sea of human wails and screams from thousands, perhaps millions of souls, seemingly out of incredibly pain and suffering before it was extinguished by the relentless heat, leading the scientists to believe that they had bored down into a literal passage to Hell itself. The director of the survey, known only as a Dr. Azzacov, apparently told media at the time: “The information we are gathering is so surprising, that we are sincerely afraid of what we might find down there.” Additionally, later reports claimed that there was “fountainhead of luminous gas shooting up from the drill site, and out of the midst of this incandescent cloud pillar.” It was then said that over half of the team quit out of a profound fear of what they had uncovered, and that the team had come to the conclusion that the earth was hollow and that something decidedly malignant dwelled within.
The whole chilling incident was apparently first featured on the the Christian-based Trinity Broadcasting Network in Southern California in 1989, after which it appeared in the Finnish newsletter Ammennusastia in 1990, after which it then went on to take on a life of its own, appearing on Internet sites and in tabloids all over the place. The bizarre story eventually ending up featured on an episode of famed paranormal radio show Coast to Coast AM in 2002. On this particular show, host Art Bell produced a recording of the sounds recorded within the pit, which are indeed quite disturbing and can be heard here.
It seems like an incredibly fantastical story and no doubt it likely is. It is thought that the whole story of the “Well to Hell” had its origins at least partially in fact, with a 1984 article in Scientific American which told of a team of geologists had drilled an extremely deep borehole 12 kilometers down in Russia’s Kola Peninsula, one of the deepest ever recorded and definitely not in Siberia. Although impressive and some interesting discoveries were indeed made, there was no report at all from this team of anything supernatural going on, and certainly no word of the mass screaming of condemned souls languishing in Hell. It seems that this story was picked up and then further tweaked and exaggerated until it took off onto the Internet and picked up more and more embellishment as time went on, feeding and gorging itself on unverified rumors, hearsay, and uncorroborated “facts.”
It does not help that one of the original purveyors of the story was a Christian broadcasting network who would obviously have a vested interest in somehow proving that a literal Hell exists, and the various recordings allegedly taken within the borehole are inconclusive at best. They could be anything. The story also has various versions that have evolved over the years, including one story in that righteous last bastion of journalism Weekly World News (sarcasm people), which reported the event as having happened in 1992, only this time in Alaska and ending in the deaths of 13 expeditions members when Satan himself emerged to ravage them. Nevertheless, despite all of the signs pointing to the Well of Hell story as being an out of control hoax, there are many out there who still argue that the whole incident indeed happened, and is merely being covered up and made to seem like a hoax by those who do not want us to know that Hell actually exists.
Are these various tales of gateways, doors, and portals to Hell all urban legend and tall tales or is there perhaps anything more to them? Is Hell a real place that can be accessed through such means, and if so what lies beyond these portals into the dark unknown? Is there perhaps some other form of strange, inter dimensional phenomena lying at the root of such bizarre stories? The idea of different versions of a form of Hell is as old as human religion, and as long as there are those who believe in the literal interpretation of these places there will probably always be spooky stories such as these. Whether Hell is a real place or not, the phenomenon of gateways to its fiery depths is an interesting peek into a tradition firmly planted within the human psyche, and has produced some damn strange stories nevertheless.