The Northern part of Summit County in Ohio is known by the eerily blunt moniker, Helltown. In the 70’s, Boston Township was the site of a government buyout, and subsequent mass eviction of citizens. The houses were intended to be torn down and the land used for a national park, but the plans never quite manifested. Legends spawned wildly, and who can blame the legend mongers? Driving through the dark, wooded landscape was enough to give you chills even when it was populated, let alone when you have to drive by boarded up houses standing next to the burnt out hulks of others (the local fire department used some buildings for practice).
Whether based on a kernel of truth or cooked up in the heads of creative visitors, the persistent legends of Helltown add to the creep factor. The steep Stanford Road drop off, immediately followed by a dead end, is aptly named The End of the World. If you get stuck at this dead end for too long, according to ghost story enthusiasts, you may meet your end at the hands of many members of the endless parade of freaks patrolling the woods. Satanists, Ku Klux Klan members, an escaped mental patient, an abnormally large snake, and mutants caused by an alleged chemical spill proudly march in this parade. And if you stray from the roads, you may find Boston Cemetery, home to a ghostly man, grave robbers and, the quirkiest of all, a moving tree.
4. Humberstone and LaNoria
These two abandoned mining towns in Chile were recently featured on an episode of the SyFy Channel’s show, Destination Truth. In 1872, the town was founded as a saltpeter mine, and business boomed. However, after several heavy blows (including the Great Depression), the business declined and then collapsed in 1958, and the town of Humberstone and it’s surrounding towns were abandoned by 1960. Treatment of workers in both towns bordered on slavery, and now the towns are left standing derelict.
It is rumored that the dead of the La Noria cemetery rise at night and walk around the town, and ghostly images frequently show up in photographs in Humberstone. These towns are so terrifying, the residents of nearby Iquique refuse to enter them. The former residents never left, and can be seen walking around, and children have been heard playing. The cemetery of La Noria, regardless of whether its occupants actually walk at night, contains opened graves where the bodies are fully exposed, leaving you to wonder why. Is it ghosts, or is it grave robbers? As if either prospect is very appealing.
3. Shades of Death Road
This New Jersey road winds through 7 miles of countryside, and along that stretch it gives us no definitive clues as to the origin of its eerie name (for those wondering, Shades of Death is not a nickname given by locals, but is in fact the road’s official moniker). While the explanation for this highly unusual name has been lost, many theories abound. Some say that murderous highwaymen would rob and kill those along the road. Others say the reason was because of violent retaliations by the locals against the very same highwaymen, resulting in their lynched corpses being hung up as a warning. Some attribute it to three murders that occurred in the 20’s and 30’s. The first murder saw a robber beating his victim over the head with a tire iron, the second saw a woman decapitate her husband and bury the head and body on separate sides of the road, and the third consisted of poor Bill Cummins being shot and buried in a mud pile. Some attribute it to massive amounts of fatal car crashes, while others consider it the fault of viscous wildcats from the nearby Bear Swamp. The most likely explanation, however, is that malaria-bearing mosquitos terrorized the locals year to year, and the remoteness of the area prevented good medical attention from being prominent in the area. This is supported by the fact that, in 1884, most of the swamps in the area were drained.
Gruesome history and spooky name aside, you have much to fear along this byway. South of the I-80 overpass lies an officially unnamed lake, that most will tell you is called Ghost Lake. This lake is frequently the home of specter-like vapors, and the sky is supposed to be unusually bright, no matter what time of night you are there. As per the name, ghosts of the highwaymens victims roam the area, and they are most frequent in the abandoned cabin across the lake. The dead-end road known as Lenape Lane is home to thick fogs and apparitions, you may be chased off the road by a white light. I’ll let Wikipedia detail the most disturbing aspect of the road:
“One day during the 1990s, some visitors found hundreds of Polaroid photographs scattered in woods just off the road. They took some and shared them with Weird NJ, which published a few as samples. Most of the disturbing images showed a television changing channels, others showed a woman or women, blurred and somewhat difficult to identify, lying on some sort of metal object, conscious but not smiling. Local police began an investigation after the magazine ran an item with the photos, but the remainder disappeared shortly afterwards.”
2. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
Welcome to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, home of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This former high school was converted, in 1975, to Security Prison 21 by the Khmer Rouge. The prison was used as a base to torture and murder prisoners. Most of the prisoners were former soldiers and government officials from the Lon Nol regime. However, the Khmer Rouge leaders paranoia soon caught up with them, and they began shipping people from their own ranks to the prison. Many prisoners were tortured and tricked into naming their family and associates, who were them also arrested, tortured and murdered.
The ghosts of the estimated 17,000 victims of Tuol Sleng continue to roam the halls, and odd happenings around the place are often attributed to them: and it isn’t hard to see why. Most were forced to confess to crimes they didn’t actually commit. Although most victims were Cambodians, many foreigners fell victim to the death machine, including Americans, French, a New Zealander, a Briton, Australians, Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis and Vietnamese. Only 12 people are thought to have survived. To close the entry on this sad history, I’ll leave you with the actual security regulations, the ten rules all prisoners had to abide by. All imperfect grammar is said in context due to poor translation.
1. You must answer accordingly to my question. Don’t turn them away.
2. Don’t try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that, you are strictly prohibited to contest me.
3. Don’t be a fool for you are a chap who dare to thwart the revolution.
4. You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.
5. Don’t tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.
6. While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.
7. Do nothing, sit still and wait for my orders. If there is no order, keep quiet. When I ask you to do something, you must do it right away without protesting.
8. Don’t make pretext about Kampuchea Krom in order to hide your secret or traitor.
9. If you don’t follow all the above rules, you shall get many many lashes of electric wire.
10.If you disobey any point of my regulations you shall get either ten lashes or five shocks of electric discharge.
1. The Mines of Paris
The seemingly infinite tunnels that run below the streets of Paris should not be confused with the Catacombs of Paris, the famous underground ossuary, although the mines are also mistakenly referred to as the catacombs. Exploring the mines is illegal, and penalties include heavy fines. The mines were used to dig out minerals from Paris’ varied sediment (the location where Paris is was submerged for millions of years), and the tunnels are what got left behind.
The mines are now unkempt, unpatrolled and unsafe. As far as legends go, ancient cults and creatures patrol the depths. Spirits dwell in the infinite shadows, and if one wanders deep enough, and survives, they may even enter Hades itself. As far as reality goes, those legends can take a back seat. The tunnels stretch for close to 600 kilometers throughout the Parisian underground, and most of them are unmapped. Saying it is easy to get lost is an understatement. It is nearly impossible not to get lost. Many parts of the catacombs are hundreds of feet below street level. Some hallways are flooded, or are so narrow you have to crawl through them. There are holes that drop hundreds of feet, and manholes that are unreachable, luring unwary urban explorers in with false promises of freedom. The infinite underground maze absorbs sound, mutes it, making it unlikely you will hear somebody yelling for help, even if they are not far away. Or, worse yet, making it unlikely somebody will hear you. Thousands of human bones litter the tunnels, due to overcrowding in many of Paris’ cemeteries. Weird paintings adorn the walls. Are they ancient? Are they new? Are they warnings? Or pleas for help? If you have claustrophobia, you will want to avoid the mines at all costs. If you don’t have claustrophobia, you probably will after a trip through the mines. Bring plenty of batteries, backup flashlights, clean water, a friend, and say a prayer before entering the mines of Paris. You will need them all.