The world is full of strange, forgotten places that lie beyond our understanding. Usually these locations have managed to escape major attention, and merely lie in their far-flung locations evading all attempts to comprehend them, gathering up legends and myths in the process. Some places seem to lurk out past our understanding to draw weird stories in, and one of these lies out in Argentina, a whole town that seems to be orbited by all manner of anomalies and weirdness.
Sitting out in the province of Río Negro, Argentina, near the Neuquén River and Pellegrini Lake, is the city of Cinco Saltos, which means literally “five jumps,” in reference to the five steps that start from the surrounding canal and Ingeniero Ballester Dam. The city has its beginnings in 1914, when settlers began coming to live in the Neuquén River valley, but it had a hard time getting a foothold, with development stalled from floods in 1918 and a lack of proper healthcare and infrastructure. It would not be until 1960 that the city would come into its own, with greater city planning and an economy boosted by the construction of a plant for producing chlorine and vinyl chloride monomer caustic soda, although this came at the price of heavy pollution which forced the plant out of business in 1995 and caused the city to spiral into economic ruin until oil exploration and development gave it a shot in the arm again. In addition to all of this tumultuous history, Cinco Saltos is perhaps most well-known for the various strange tales associated with it, dealing with ghosts, witchcraft, and UFOs.
One of the most famous strange stories told by locals is that of a place nearby known as Bajo Negro, or the “Black Bass,” which lies tucked away in a darkened alcove of the valley, and in which supposed nothing will grow in its blackened soil. It was traditionally known as a place where witches would gather to perform dark rituals and practice black magic and necromancy, and stories of this abound. There were said to be so many witches who came to this place that the city earned its nickname “The City of Witches,” and even in modern times this place is said to have its share of strangeness. There have been reports right up to the present of strange, robed figures lurking about or engaging in occult behavior, and there are various phenomena associated with the area as well, such as compasses going haywire or electrical equipment malfunctioning. It is also said that the location is in a place where sunlight practically almost never reaches, and that the land itself holds some kind of mystical power that the witches and cults draw off of. It is interesting that the Bajo Negro is the location for an alleged massacre that occurred here back in the days of the settlers, when a group of 30 people were ruthlessly slaughtered by angry Natives. Urban legend or something else? Who knows?
There are also the stories of ghosts roaming about Cinco Saltos. Perhaps the most famous of these is the supposed specter of a baby that roams about Pelligrini Lake. The story goes that back in the 1950s a baby drowned here, and ever since it has sort of hung around. People have reported hearing the disembodied eerie crying of a baby echoing out across the water, and the source of the sound can never be found, as if it is coming from all directions at once. There is also the tale of a ghostly little girl who is said to wander about the city cemetery, only to vanish into thin air when people get too close, and there are also various other shadow figures and reports of glowing eyes with no body attached from here.
The story of the ghost girl had a strange development, when in 2009 a group of workers were restoring the city’s cemetery when they broke through into a previously unknown and unmarked ossuary beneath. Within the gloom was found a box into which the intact remains of a young girl of 8 to 12 years of age had been stuffed, who had apparently died in the 1930s, only to be unceremoniously buried in the box, nameless and forgotten. Not only this, but the corpse had been chained up and embalmed, leading locals to believe that she had been the victim of an occult ritual and sacrifice. This grim discovery started rumors that perhaps the phantom girl is the ghost of this person who cannot rest because of what happened to her and so remains tethered to Pelligrini Lake and Cinco Saltos. Whatever the case may be, finding the body brought her no peace, as the ghostly girl apparently has been seen more than ever since the body was found.
Another ghostly tale is that of a wraith-like young woman who haunts the road to Lake Pellegrini, often said to be holding a baby. She will purportedly appear from nowhere to walk across the road and sometimes stand there in the headlights of incoming cars, causing them to veer and lose control. Indeed, this particular stretch of road is said to have an abnormally high rate of traffic accidents, which of course is claimed to be because of the ghost woman. Throw on top of all of this strangeness a healthy dose of UFO sightings that plague the area of Cinco Saltos, and you have a very bizarre place indeed. What is going on here? Is it the quality of the land itself, its allegedly dark history, or something else? It is all a very intriguing tale, of a place tucked away and forgotten for the most part.