Friday, January 22, 2016

YORK, PENNSYLVANIA: The Seven Gates of Hell

Few things fulfill a cold winters day more than a ghostly tale, or one that delves into the unknown, does.

One particular urban legend that has always intrigued me is the legend of The Seven Gates of Hell, which is supposedly located in York County, Pennsylvania (Hellam Township). According to legend, passing through all seven gates leads the traveler straight into Hell. To quote Dante: "Abandon all hope ye who enter here."
My interest in this legend lies partially in the basis of the legend lying upon an old isolated asylum that was once on a wooded road called Toad Road.
According to some sources, the asylum was erected during the 1800s, housing the most criminally insane (needless to say, the locals were likely quite relieved in not having this establishment close to their places of residence). Then one night, a mysterious fire broke out, killing many of the inmates (due to its remoteness, firefighters could not reach the building in time). Some were able to escape, but were hunted down by a search party and law enforcement. They were either beaten to submission or killed. The asylum was never rebuilt, but the role of the gates in this version is often disputed, the most popular theory seeming to be that they (the gates) were built by the search party teams as a way to capture the escaped inmates.
Another version of the legend suggests that the property on which the pathway to Hell is said to be was once owned by a rather eccentric and temperamental doctor who had the seven gates built on the path leading up to his home. I haven't found any concrete source with information on exactly how these gates came to be a pathway into the bowels of Hell, but the stories continue, even to a point to having claims of daring travelers reach the fifth gate, only to be dissuaded from continuing when the sounds of the damned would reach his or her ears and a sense of foreboding would take over. Even the bravest adventurer is said to have not made it passed gate number five.
In addition, both versions of the legend agree that only the first gate can be seen in the light of day. The other six can appear to an onlooker at night (perhaps by moonlight?).

As a side note, I wonder if the Seven Gates of Hell of legend have any ties with the Seven Gates of Virtue (in Limbo) and the Nine Rings of Hell from Dante's Inferno. Perhaps that is where this part of the myth came from. Might be worth exploring. Perhaps we might even be able to unlock yet another door in this mystery.

With that said, a couple websites state that the land on which the gates are said to be is in fact private. So if you venture there, you do so at your own risk. There is also debate on the area, and Toad Road in general. Some say that no asylum or physician ever resided there. Some even go as far to say that Toad Road never existed, though others claim that it was changed to Trout Run Road due to its sordid past. Some who have traveled out there claim nothing out of the ordinary while others swear to hearing rather unworldly sounds.

I guess this is one urban legend that remains shrouded in the veils of mystery.

Sources of interest:

Wikipedia (Seven Gates of Hell 

Haunted USA

Weird Pennsylvania

Tiffany Apan is a critically acclaimed independent recording artist, a stage/film actress, author, and award-winning producer/writer. You can find more about her at her Official WebsiteBlogTwitterFacebook, and her production company website. She can also be found on IMDb and her music releases on CDBaby along with iTunes, Amazon, and other digital retailers. She also does freelance writing, and editing. Her own stories are available at SmashwordsBarnesand Noble NOOKAmazon, and other retailers. Her novel series, The Birthrite Series, is also available in both ebook and paperback form. In addition, she is a contributor to Ravenous Monster Webzine.

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