There are a few places where men fear to tread, places so scary locals have labeled them with names like “Hotel Hell,” “Hell Bridge,” and “Satan’s Tunnel.” Witches, demons, and shadowy entities are said to lurk there. Some are even believed to contain portals to Hell itself. We at Mysterious Heartland have braved damnation to bring you this list. Which will prove to be the most terrifying place of them all?
10. The One-Hundred Steps Cemetery
The One-Hundred Steps Cemetery is located between Terre Haute and Brazil, Indiana off N. County Road 675 W, just south of Route 40. Difficult to find because it is unmarked on many maps, this rural cemetery is home to an unusual legend. The cemetery itself holds graves dating back to the 1860s, but most visitors come to see a long set of concrete stairs. They are broken and sunken into the grass in many places, but it is said that secrets will be revealed if you make it to the top. According to legend, anyone who counts every step and reaches the top at midnight will be approached by the ghost of an undertaker. This grim figure will show you a vision of your death. If you fail to count the same number of steps on your way down, the vision will come true. If you walk up the side of the hill rather than the steps, a phantom hand will push you to the ground.
9. Hell’s Bridge
Algoma Township, Michigan
This bridge is somewhat unique in that it was exclusively designed for pedestrians. Located in the woods off of Friske Drive, just north of 12 Mile Road near a dirt turnaround, the bridge allows hikers to cross over Cedar Creek (which feeds into the nearby Rogue River). It is, basically, supported steel mesh with no guardrails. Over the years, this spot has developed a sinister reputation. Local legend states that, at some time in the distant past, a man named Elias Friske murdered several children and dumped their bodies in the creek, claiming, “The Devil made me do it.” Visitors report encountering unexplained temperature drops, seeing a misty figure, or hearing the sound of children crying and splashing in the water. Also, if you stand on the bridge at midnight, you will supposedly hear the Devil scream in triumph.
8. Seven Gates to Hell
On or around Lebanon Road are seven railroad bridges, some no longer in use. All of them are heavily coated in graffiti—a testament to their popularity for nighttime excursions. Local visitors have crafted a hellish tale around these seven bridges, which they dubbed the “Seven Gates to Hell.” The legend is that if someone were to drive through all seven bridges and enter the last one exactly at midnight, he or she would be transported to Hell. In some versions, the person entering the final tunnel must be a skeptic. In other versions, no tunnel can be driven through twice in order for the magic to work. Like Cuba Road in Barrington, an abandoned property near Lebanon Road has given rise to rumours of a “death house.” A closed road or driveway is alleged to lead to an old house in which a family was murdered. Moreover, a group of Satanists are said to sacrifice animals and children at the location.
7. Oakland Cemetery
Iowa City, Iowa
A blackened, bronze statue of an angel, its arms outstretched and head bowed, is the focus of much curiosity among visitors to Oakland Cemetery. The cemetery was established in 1843 and sits along Brown Street and Highway 1 in Iowa City. The angel statue was designed by a Bohemian artist and erected in 1912 to commemorate Nicholas and Eddie Feldevert. Hundreds of people come every year to see the “Black Angel,” and there are many explanations for why it has changed colour. Many believe that Teresa Feldevert was interested in the dark arts, and her interest corrupted the statue. Anyone who is brave enough to kiss the angel, it is said, will die instantly. Others believe (incorrectly) that a man erected the statue in honour of his wife. His wife’s infidelity, however, left a permanent stain on the statue as a reminder of her sin. According to legend, anyone who touches the “Black Angel” will suffer a horrible fate. One young man tried to remove its hand with a hacksaw and went insane. Later, his body turned up in the Chicago River. The statue is said to turn a shade darker every Halloween.
6. Gateway to Hell
A crumbling stone church and a lonely cemetery outside this tiny rural community are the focus of a terrifying legend. It is said that witches and occult groups use the old church for their dark rituals. A gnarled pine tree formerly stood in the cemetery until it was struck by lightning and cut down. The tree was allegedly used to hang witches in the 1800s. Stull reportedly has a strange history. Near a long-forgotten trail named “Devil’s Road,” a man accidentally set fire to his own son, killing him. Another man was found hanged from a tree by the side of the road. The main story, however, concerns a flight of stone stairs hidden in the woods near the church. According to legend, the entrance to the stairs opens up on Halloween and the Spring Equinox. Anyone unfortunate enough to locate and descend the stairs will find a gateway to Hell at the bottom. According to one bizarre report, “The devil reportedly makes a personal appearance in the cemetery on Halloween at midnight to visit the grave of a witch with whom the devil had a child. Their child is said to materialise in the surrounding woods, taking on the form of a werewolf.”
5. Satan’s Tunnel
Hawk Point, Missouri
Ghostly figures inhabit the dark recesses of this old underpass, or so many locals believe. The railroad tracks that once ran over the tunnel are long gone, and its rail bed has been reclaimed by nature. The entrance to the tunnel is covered with moss and graffiti. According to legend, when the railroad was there, a train struck a man walking along the tracks and he fell to his death. Another legend tells of a man who was lynched in a tree near the entrance. Still another story involves a hobo who made his home in the tunnel. He was found dead, they say, with a look of fear frozen on his face. The ghosts of all three unfortunate men are believed to haunt this old underpass. All this negative energy has allegedly attracted a group of Devil worshipers, who perform rituals there. Any one of these stories is reason enough to stay away, but all four make Satan’s Tunnel one very creepy place to visit!
4. Mudhouse Mansion
Known locally as the Hartman Place, this abandoned brick, Second Empire-style house was built sometime in the mid-19th Century and stands sentinel-like in a field of windswept grass. It is currently owned by Jeannie Mast, who zealously guards her property and presses charges against anyone who tries to trespass. This has only poured fuel on the fire for people who believe the house holds sinister secrets. According to legend, the original owner treated his servants cruelly and locked them in the basement. One night, the servants escaped and murdered their master and his family. In another tale, the owner caught his wife having an affair and killed her before committing suicide. Another story claims the owner’s wife murdered her children. The ghosts of all these victims are said to roam the empty rooms of the house and the other outbuildings on the property. One thing is certain: the property is patrolled by both sheriff’s deputies and private security guards, so visitors are strongly discouraged.
3. Hotel Hell
Maribel Caves Hotel, or “Hotel Hell” as it came to be known, is located on the site of a health spa that operated in the late 1800s. The hotel itself was built in 1900 by Father Francis and Eugene Steinbrecker, sons of the designer, who died before construction started. It was built with limestone blocks, giving it a fort-like appearance. Thousands of people came there every year to drink the Maribel Spring water that was bottled next door. A fire broke out in the hotel in the summer of 1985, and it closed soon after. A whole host of legends have sprung up around its empty husk. In addition to the usual floating objects, feelings of unease, apparitions, and the touch of unseen hands, there are wild stories of occult practices as well. According to one tale, a coven of black witches opened a portal to Hell, unleashing unpleasant spirits that are now trapped in the former hotel.
2. Zombie Road
Once called Old Fawler Road, this claustrophobic stretch of pavement now known as Al Foster Trail (Rock Hollow Trail in some places) follows the Meramec River, but has been closed to vehicle traffic for years. It has developed quite a reputation over the years, and is well known even outside the St. Louis area. Most of its legends centre on an old railroad crossing at the western end of the trail. It is here that labourers who died building the railroad rise from their graves at night—hence the name, Zombie Road. Other folks say the road is named after an inmate named Zombie who escaped from a mental institution and was found dead on the road. In the 1970s, two teenagers were struck and killed by a train near the crossing. Multiple suicides and murders are believed to have occurred here as well. Strange lights, sounds, and sightings have led many to believe Zombie Road is thrilling to visit, but a bad place to stay for too long.
1. The Ammons Home
In 2012, this nondescript home in Gary, Indiana was allegedly ground zero in a spiritual battle between good and evil. Latoya Ammons, mother of three, claimed her family was tormented by demonic entities, until a Catholic priest named Father Mike Maginot performed an exorcism in the home. Ammons’ children were bruised, thrown, and became deathly ill. Swarms of horseflies appeared on the porch, and footsteps echoed up the basement stairs. Shadowy figures roamed the halls at night, and a black, oily substance dripped from the walls. The story quickly became national news after the strange events were corroborated by local authorities. Gary Indiana Police Captain Charles Austin told the Daily Mail, “Every one of us who was there that day in the basement and who saw what we saw, went through what we went through after…we all think the same, we all call it the same. That bit of dirt is a portal to hell.” Zak Bagans, host of the Travel Channel show Ghost Adventures, purchased the home in February 2014.