Pennsylvania is an interesting location. We’re known for a wide range of things, from being the birthplace of our nation’s government, having a Chocolate Factory based town, beautiful woodlands, old mining towns, and just straight-up strangeness. The topic of discussion today envelopes those final two points. Settled squarely within one of the many smaller prior industry towns, with a bizarre history of eeriness to it. A trend here in Pennsylvania, these types of towns and settlements are all throughout the state. However, this one seems to stand apart from the rest. As the Seven Gates of Hell, is just that, a portal to Hell itself.
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Today we shall be talking about the Seven Gates of Hell, a mysterious legend that comes from Hellam Township. A fairly sized township within York County Pennsylvania. Which, for reference to listeners out of state, is located about 25 miles south of Harrisburg, the state capital; or 100 miles west of Philadelphia. But for better reference to those in the area, this legend comes from Glades, PA; an extremely small suburb located Northeast outside the city of York, PA.
The legend of the Seven Gates centers around a dark and mysterious history for the York region. The story is about Toad Road, and the eventual name change to Trout Run Road, after a horrendous accident. In the 1800s, there stood a massive mental asylum in the woods of York, just off of Toad Road. The Asylum was very remote, due to wanting to keep the facility and its occupants, out of sight and out of mind, as to not disturb the general suburban vibe. However, this would be a horrible mistake on the part of the locals, as one evening a fire broke out within the Asylum.
The facility’s remoteness and required backroad travel made it extremely difficult for firefighters and first responders to get to the scene in order to combat the flames. Many of the patients and staff members were able to get out, however several remained trapped on the higher floors as the fire blocked them from escaping. Eventually, once firefighters arrived, they were met with a chaotic scene. Staff attempting to calm patients, others wandering off into the surrounding woods. All while cries for help came from the flaming structure.
The fire was eventually put out, but not before most of the Asylum burnt to the ground, taking several patients’ lives with it. However, a new issue arose as again, several dozen patients have either wandered or escaped into the woods during the hectic evening. Afraid of the reputations of the asylum’s inmates, with some being extremely dangerous individuals to both themselves and others, a search party was formed from locals and law enforcement alike. Unfortunately, this fear towards the mentally ill resulted in the search party being extraordinarily aggressive towards those that they located; often beating the frightened patients into submission, and in a few cases, killing others.
Obviously a highly tragic set of events, but what about this portal to Hell and these sets of Gates?
After the fire, the Asylum was never rebuilt, the remaining patients were moved elsewhere and the building remained empty for several years. Eventually, the township decided to construct fencing and a gate along the path to the site, in order to deter curious visitors. Over time, this continued until seven gates blocked the path to the Asylum.
As some of the stories go, many believe that the area has been cursed. The culmination of negative energy has somehow formed seven gateways into Hell itself. Regardless of both this and the gates physically being there to deter visitors; many still attempted and stories began to grow over the years. Most local adventure seekers never actually locate the first set of gates. For those who manage to find the path, it goes that the sense of uneasiness and dread begins to overwhelm them. This becomes more and more apparent the further you travel inwards and continue to pass more of the gates.
Locating the gates, to begin with, is a difficult task, many people, including locals, search for the correct path and location of the gates, however, they are rather allusive. If you do locate and move past the first gate, you begin to feel as though you must turn back. This continues to grow after passing the second and third. Once you move past the fourth, true fear sets in and only a small number of people have ever made it to the fifth gate.
Reports of ghostly apparitions are all along these paths. Strange noises and menacing screams are frequent as you progress deeper into the woods. Once you arrive at the fifth gate, the urge to run becomes almost overwhelming. As for what happens past this point, no one really knows. However, rumors say that once you’re past the seventh gate, and head towards the site of the ruined Asylum; you will come face-to-face with a portal or doorway, right to Hell.
If you planning a visit to the location, hoping to explore the gates, you need to know a few key points. First, some stories claim that gates two through seven are even more allusive. This is unless you were to visit during the hours of twilight or dusk, otherwise, they are invisible. However, the more reasonable explanation, is that only one chain link fence sits on the property just off of Trout Road; one that confusingly has like three gates attached closed to one another. There are some underbrush and dead trees, they may be mistaken as a sort of structure further out.
However, the local Township does advise against this. There are Trespassing warning signs as the land is private property and you will be prosecuted if caught. This warning is even front and center on the Hellam Township webpage, for the Seven Gates of Hell. They are aware and do take this rather seriously. They do not shy from the stories and truthfully I believe they originated from local rumors anyways, but they also do respect the private property of the local residents. So if you do happen to visit, just watch from outside the first gate, it’s what’s best for everyone.
EP 50 – The Seven Gates of Hell. Produced by Shane Cummings; Audio Editing & Research by Shane Cummings.
Intro & Outro music “Creepy Regrets” by AnMo.
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