Six more days of Spooktober! If you’re not into trick-or-treating, how about a little Hell-Gate hopping?
Don’t Pass Through the Seven Gates of Hell
Urban legends abound, but none are quite as terrifying as this one originating out of a tiny rural are in Pennsylvania. The legend goes that if you pass through the seven gates, all located in a wooded area of Hellam Township off of Trout Run Road (formerly Toad Road), you go straight to Hell. A variant of the story states that you have to pass through the gates in order after midnight for the road trip to Hell.
Others say there are seven gates to Hell in Illinois where a portal to Hell opens and the person will be confronted by hell hounds; or if done in reverse order (end at Gate 1), you can see through the portal into Hell but are not transported there.
Another legend states that on Halloween night if you pass seven black gates (any seven black gates), you will see the seven gates of Hell. But let’s stick to the Hellam Township’s seven gates to Hell for now.
Two versions for the Pennsylvania gates exist. One – a mental hospital burned down and to keep the surviving inmates from escaping, law enforcement put up several gates to close in the area. These inmates were brutally beaten and most killed. The psychic echo of that heinous night cursed the land. Two – an eccentric doctor constructed the gates along a wooded path on his property.
Both stories agree that only one gate can be seen by daylight, and the other six gates are only visible at night. So far, no one has passed the fifth gate. Truly, who would want to?
Historically, according to Hellam Township, there was never an insane asylum there, and the doctor in question put up one gate on his personal property to keep trespassers out. The best evidence of remaining Hell gates are gnarled tree trunks throughout the forest that give off the impression of gates.
Even the reasoning that the gates to Hell exist here led to the name of the town, Hellam, is inaccurate. The name comes from Hallamshire in South Yorkshire, England. Most importantly, the township is adamant that the rumors are false and state on their website that “This area is private property. Trespassers will be prosecuted.”
So how and why does this legend persist? Over the years there have been many adventurers willing to test the theory – although, as reported, no one has made it past the fifth gate. Some claimed a sense of evil and the stench of death are so overpowering many don’t make it past the first gate. These explorers tell of piercing screams through the otherwise silent night and shadow figures stalking them along the path. Many are simply run off by law enforcement since it is private property and the owners don’t like trespassers (who does?). And even if someone did make it to the seventh gate, how would we know whether that person got a fast-pass to Hell if that person doesn’t return to tell the tale?
For now speculation runs deep as to the authenticity of the seven gates of Hell in Hellam Township, Pennsylvania. Plenty of locals will attest to the evil aura of the area. Some will even regale you with tales of their own adventures into the woods when they were devil-may-care teenagers. Regardless of the township’s own statements to the contrary, there simply isn’t enough evidence to convince this writer either way. But honestly, I’d rather not take the chance to find out the truth for myself.
If there is someone out there brave enough to seek out the seven gates and pass through them (remember the “No Trespassing” signs), AND you make it back out alive and well…I’d love to hear your story and share it with the world.
Happy Hell Gate Hopping!