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Zombieland, Pennsylvania

Zombieland

Hillsville, Pennsylvania

Along the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania, in Lawrence County, just north of the small Italian immigrant populated village of Hillsville is a unsettling quiet and eerie region locals call “Zombie Land”. Mainly “urban legend” than actual historic folklore are tales of the macabre, mystical beasts, deaths, and grisly murder. There is definitely a feeling of “odd” and “something not right” when entering this several mile strip of heavily wooded spots meeting farming, transportation, and industrial works along Lawler Ford Road a.k.a. “Zombie Road” or Route 224.

The Virgin Mary:

It begins around the old St. Lawrence Catholic Church which has long been converted to a private residence and its accompanying graveyard along route 224. There is a alcove with a statue of the Virgin Mary who has a creepy air about herself. Legend has it, she will greet visitors with open arms when it is safe to enter Zombie Land, and have praying hands when it is not. In the 1990’s it was reportedly vandalized and a plexiglass (or glass) window was installed to protect the statue.

St. Lawrence Church and Graveyard:

Some say the gravestones behind this church glow at night. Others say it is at the Presbyterian graveyard down the road. We’ve been to both, and outside of solar-powered grave lights, there is no glow. Others say it is a historic stone in the older part of the graveyard behind the old Church (St. Lawrence) that has a particular shine that reflects off the full moon or light from the house (old church). We unfortunately during our night visit did not see that section, although we did explore the two graveyards – seeing no glow, but experiencing the eerie ambiance.

The Hilltown Bridge:

Just down the road from the St. Lawrence Graveyard north is the Hilltown Bridge. The original Bridge in March 1913 was swept away and has since been replaced by a new concrete monster. It was torn down again in 2007 and replaced with a modern concrete span. It is from this bridge that reports of unexplained lights moving around it and underneath, like the Will o’ Wisp has been reported. Also some say one can hear screams and gun shots from the bridge at night. It has also been reported to be a “crying bridge” with sounds of a crying baby underneath, with the urban lore that a mother tossed her child over the edge. It has reports of suicides being conducted from its rails.

The Killing Fields or “Murder Swamp”:

Just north of the Hilltown Bridge are the “Killing Fields” where at night many report hearing screams and gunshots. In the woods bordering the railway some say there are “ghost whistles” to be heard late at night. If one parks near the rails, strange things will happen to the car. It is also reputedly where a serial killer dumped more than a dozen bodies with decapitated heads in Zombie Land. From 1921-1942, between Mahoningtown and New Castle, over 15 bodies were found in the swamp and may have been the same serial killer who conducted decapitations in Cleveland around the same time. There are many stories of the Italian Immigrants who settled in the area also killing many farmers, authorities, and residents leaving them in the Killing Fields to decay. It was in 1907 when several Italian men in Hillsville, believed to be associated with the Italian mafia/mob who proclaimed that “No person in the Hillsville district, either Italian or American, will give the slightest assistence to any officer desiring the prosecution of Italian offenders.” and it was then that a Hillsville farmer allowed an officer named Sealy Houk to use his phone to effect an arrest of an Italian found to have killed his cow. It is believed that the officer was killed and dumped in the “Killing fields” of the region, discovered by a train passing by. Three days after Houk’s body was discovered, three Italian mob men went into the fields killing and pouching animals, aggrivating and attacking (murdering at least one – William Duff) farmers who tried to stand in their way.

The Mines:

There are said to be various mines in the area used by the mafia from Youngstown to dispose of bodies. While travelling through area, we only saw signs for “Limestone” mines.

Skyhill Road Bridge:
(aka Frankenstein Bridge, Hookman’s Bridge, Ghost Bridge, Graffiti Bridge)
A few more miles down into Zombie land on Skyhill Road is a small bridge that was built in 1917 crossing off the Coffee Run River. It also has been replaced in 2013 changing the eerie attraction. It became to be believed to be haunted by the “Bridge People” and the “Hook Man”. Apparently they were mutated zombie-like people who lived nearby that were bothered by people hanging around the bridge so would hunt them down to maim or kill them. It is believed that if one writes someone’s name on the bridge, the “Bridge People” or “The Hookman” would go murder them. The bridge is covered with peoples names and symbols. The Original bridge had wood railings where the graffiti would be, but now a metal railing, the graffiti is on the asphault itself. Oddly, underneath the bridge are lover’s dedications and love notes scrawled on the walls. The Hate is above, the Love below. We also saw the corpse of a dead deer lying halfway on the ground and in the water, half-wrapped in a garbage bag like an offering to the Bridge people. Someone else writing about the Bridge also stated there was a dead deer but that was back in 2016, so a different dead deer. It is said a young boy leaped from the bridge killing himself as a suicide.

The Zombie Torch:

Right around the corner from the bridge west is the Eternal Flame dedicated to the Zombies that haunt the woods. The mutant colored metal pipe protruding from the ground is just a stone’s torch from the road – it is a iron pipe venting fumes from the natural gas field below. If one lights the torch it will anger the Bridge People and the Hook Man, summoning them to cause death unto the one who lit it.

The Blood House, Bridge People, Hook Man:

Deep in the woods near the bridge and torch is the purported home of the Bridge People and/or Hook Man. It is said also to have been the home of a wicked witch named “Mary Black” who snatched and murdered children of the area, buring them in the fields. It has long been burnt down and demolished by authorities and no longer exists. Others state that the Blood House is located off of Erskin Quarry Road and had a small graveyard attached to it. Some say the Witch was a woman who went crazy and hung her children. Others say it all happened when some mental patients escaped and settled in the area. Others say the “Bridge People” were mutant-like residents of the woods who suffered from “hydrocephalus” or “water on the brain” that settled in the area along the Mahoning River to avoid being harassed for their deformities. They were also nicknamed the “Light Bulb Heads”. A escaped mental patient nicknamed “Zombie” who was a serial killer supposedly lived in the woods along this road. Some claim that his bloodied hospital gown was once found on the road and murdered local kids. Other paranormal investigators call the “Bridge People” as the infamous legendary “Shadow People” of lore. There is some belief that the “Hook Man” came from the Killing of Seely Houk written about above.

The Railroad Bridge:

Along Coffee Run, at Robinson’s Crossing, just north of the Manoning River, within Zombie Land, not too far from all the haunted locations is a Railway Bridge still in use by CSX trains was the scene of a grisley rape and murder of a 12 year old girl named Shannon Leigh Kos. Her boyfriend and two other 20 year old boys brought her there, raped her, and stabbed her to death. They attempted to burn her body, but her remains were found by the bridge three days later. The sick criminals – William George Monday (21), David Christopher Garvey (20), and Perry Sam Ricciardi II (20) were arrested and convicted. There are purported rumors that Robinson’s Crossing was once a popular “lover’s lane” but police reported many arguments and spats, domestic violence calls, etc. were popular there as well as abandoned dates they had to come to escort home. Rumors of suicides at this spot as well as the other bridges are also common.

The Glowing Green Man:
There are legends of a green man who had been burned in an industrial accident that lived in the area. Others say he was a local handyman who was electricuted and had a light green glow to his skin. According to Jim Mosley, the Green Man not only existed but was someone whom he had met on occasion through his wanderings in Zombie Land and spent many evenings drinking with him at the local pub. His real name was Raymond Robinson.

A zombie land facebook fan page exists here: https://www.facebook.com/ZombieLandHillsvillePA/ and t-shirts are sold at a local beverage shop.

Recommended Reading/Bibliography:

  • Associated Press 2000 “Accused told police of Killing”. The Associated Press. Website referenced on 11/12/18 at http://www2.sharonherald.com/localnews/recentnews/0011/ln111600f.html
  • Lawrence County Memoirs n.d. “Zombie Land – Hillsville PA” website referenced 11/12/18 at http://www.lawrencecountymemoirs.com/lcmpages/1073/zombieland-hillsville-pa
  • Reddit 2016 “Gruesome Murder of a Girl I Knew NSFW” by u/nebbles1069. Website referenced 11/12/18 at https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/462b6r/gruesome_murder_of_a_girl_i_knew_nsfw/
  • Penn Live e2016 “From Hell’s Hollow to Zombie Land: 13 western PA places with haunting legends. Website referenced 11/12/18 at https://www.pennlive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2016/10/haunted_western_pennsylvania.html
  • Summers, Ken 2011 “The STrange History Behind America’s Creepiest Zombie Road Legends … and How You Can find them”. Website referenced 11/12/18 at http://weekinweird.com/2011/09/26/home-zombie-roads/
  • Tinsley, M. Ferguson 2000 “This time, Zombie Land tale is true”. Post-Gazette Staff. Website referenced 11/12/18 at http://old.post-gazette.com/regionstate/20001031zombie1.asp
  • Torisk, Emmalee C. 2013 “Urban legends haunt Zombieland” : Vindy.com. Website referenced 11/12/18 at http://www.vindy.com/news/2013/oct/29/urban-legends-haunt-zombieland/
  • Warren, Louis S. unknown “The Hunters Game: Poachers and Conservationists in Twentieth Century America”. Website referenced 11/12/18 at https://books.google.com/books?id=OfeB1wAdQHwC&pg=PA30&lpg=PA30&dq=killing+fields+hillsville&source=bl&ots=GdJ2Dgjuqh&sig=A0EsgLm8cPefd44V8l6owSsq0IQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiZocuBqtDeAhUp11kKHYObBIsQ6AEwFXoECAsQAQ#v=onepage&q=killing%20fields%20hillsville&f=false

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Horseshoe Falls

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Horseshoe Falls
* Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara, New York *

Located on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, the “Canadian Falls” or “Horseshoe Falls” is the most famous and most attracted spots at the Niagara Falls wonder. Over 90% of the Niagara River flows over these falls and is used for massive hydro-power generation. The Remaining 10% of the river flows over the American Falls. These falls are located between Terrapin Point on Goat Island and Table Rock in Ontario. The Falls have been fought over between America and Canada throughout history.

The Myth of the Maid of the Mist is a Native American legend from the Ongiaras Tribe about a young woman, named Lelawal, the Maid of the Mist. She lost her husband at a very young age and was lost in sorrow. She canoed along the Niagara River to the Falls, singing a death song paddling into the current. She was caught up in the rough waves and hurled into the falls, but as she fell, Heno, the God of Thunder who lived in these falls caught her carrying her down to his home beneath the veil of waters falling. Heno and his sons took care of her until she healed. One of his sons fell in love with her, married, and bore a son who learned to be a God of Thunder. The Maid however missed seeing her family and tribe. Heno reported to her that A great snake came down the mighty river and poisoned the waters of her people. They grew sick and were dying, being devoured by the snake until the mass disappearance of the tribe occurred. She begged Heno to be able to go back to the realm of her people to warn them of the dangers, so he lifted her through the falls back to her people. She advised them to move away from the river onto higher lands until the danger passed. Heno came back and brought her back to her husband. Once the great snake discovered that the people deserted the village, it went into a rage hissing and going upstream to search for them. Heno rose up through the mist of the falls and threw a giant thunderbolt at the snake killing it in one blast. The giant body floated downstream and lodged just above the cataract creating a large semi-circle that deflected huge amounts of water into the falls just above the God’s home. Heno swept through the falls trying to stop the massive influx of water caused by the position of the corpse. His home was destroyed. He called for the Maid and his sons returning up into the sky making a new home in the heavenly realms watching down over the humans, Heno thundering in the clouds as he once did in the falls. The thunder of the falls is Heno’s voice. [ http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/09/the_maid_of_the_mist.html ] Other legends claim Lelawala was betrothed by her father to a king she despised and secretly wanted to be with He-No, the God of Thunder, who lived beneath Horseshoe Falls. In the middle of heartache she chose to sacrifice herself to him, paddling her canoe into the Niagara River and swept off into the Falls. He-no caught her, merged with her spirit, and lived forever in his sanctuary behind the falls, whereas she became the “Maiden of the Mist”.

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Tiveragh Fairy Hill (Cushendall)

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The Tiveragh Fairy Hill
Cushendall, Northern Ireland

Legend and lore has it that this very broad sided hill with steep sides overlooking the small village of Cushendall in Northern Ireland is the gateway to Tir na nOg. A place very well known locally to be haunted by faeries, leprechauns, elves, and pixies … this giant hill is a natural fortress all in its own and easily seen to be claimed as a stronghold by the fae. Fairy tales mention many stories about it rising up on pillars during the twilight evening with glimmering meriment of faeries frolicking and dining. Many believe that the wee folk live in this hill that is accessed by a nearby cave. As the warning goes, if ye are mortal, regardless of how appeasing the faerie music may sound, if you wander within, you’ll never be seen again on this plane of existence. Time holds a whole different rhythm in Faerieworlds.

We however, of fae persuasion, did venture up the hill at the turn of twilight just as the sun was going down. We spied the hill with visions of faerie impressions while across the valley atop Ossian’s Grave – the Megalithic tomb believed to be the burial spot of the fabled poet and bard Oisin. Now Oisin was lured into fae, into Tir na nOg where he lived until he requested to return to the land of mortals to visit his family. Of course due to faerie time, he came back several hundred years later to find them all gone and deceased. He fell off his faerie steed and became a blind old man wandering these fields eventually dying. If the faerie tale is true, this would be the hill he would have rode out of and across the valley would have been his grave overlooking it … curiouser and curiouser. Midway along the way up the base of the hill is one of the most magnificent Faerie Thorn Trees I’ve ever encountered. As usual with these faerie hills, I always find a wee hole just big enough for the Victorian sized fae to enter within, usually lined with heavy rocks, making it look peculiarly like its a miniature mine rather than a animal hole. We climbed atop as the sun was going down, empowered by the feelings of the ancient ones. Archaeologically though, this may be a massive hillfort. I’m looking for those records and will post my findings here.

    On Tiv-ra Hill near Cushendall,
    I heard a commotion behind a wall,
    I stopped and looked over, and boys-o-boys!

    Now what do you think was making the noise?
    Twas a Hurley match – and may I choke -–
    It was two wee teams of the Fairy folk
    That was rippling’ and tearing’ and weltin’ away
    In the light of the moon was bright as day.

    And their playing pitch was hardly as big
    As my Uncle Barney’s potato rig;
    And me there watchin’ them puck and clout –
    At the back o’ the wall with my eyes stuck out.

    When all at once, like the squeal of a hare,
    A wee voice shouted, “Who’s that up there?””
    And a bit off a thing about nine – inch tall
    Came climbing up to the top of the wall.

    And he stood there; he stood about pot -size
    With his two wee fingers up at my eyes,
    And its God’s own truth that I’m speakin’ mind ye,
    “”Get out o’ that,” says he, “or I’ll blind ye!””

    Aye that’s what he said, “I’ll blind ye,” says he,
    And by Jing what he said was enough for me,
    Did I run? Aye surely; I didn’t miss -–
    And I haven’t seen Tiveragh from that to this.

    ~ H.Browne

    The Fairy Hill Tiveragh is a fairy hill and near to Cushendall,
    And nobody goes there at night, no nobody at all.
    The hill is small, the sides are steep.
    And I have heard it said That flickering lights go in and out While everyone’s in bed.
    And on the top two hawthorns grow, A white one and a red.
    ~ John Irvine Desmond

~ Yours truly, Leaf McGowan

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The Happy/Sad Foot of Sunset Blvd

Happy/Sad Foot of Sunset Blvd
* Sunset Blvd. * Los Angeles, California *

There’s a whirling sign of a foot on crutches that locals claim has supernatural and mythical properties: The moment you glance at it … if it is a Happy Foot, good luck will come your way. If it is Unhappy, Bad luck comes your way. According to locals (& now Boingboing.net) this rotating sign that is the advertising sign for a Foot clinic will prophesize your luck. The sign rotates slowly. The urban myth has become so popular with locals and tourists, that it has been already immortalized in the book “You Don’t Love Me Yet” published in 2008 by Jonathan Lethem. He writes “Lucinda’s view took in a three quarter’s slice of the sign as it turned in its vigil over Sunset Boulevard: happy foot and sad foot suspended in dialog forever. The two images presented not so much a one-or-the-other choice as an eternal marriage of opposites, the emblem of some ancient foot-based philosophical system. This was Lucinda’s oracle: once glance to pick out the sad or happy foot, and a coin was flipped, to legislate any decision she’d delegated to the foot god.”

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Finn McCool and the Giant’s Causeway

Finn McCool
The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

The phenomenal World Heritage Site – “The Giant’s Causeway” is the legendary tromping ground of the Giant’s Finn McCool and Benandonner. The story has it that the Irish Giant Finn McCool who lived on these shores had a Scottish rival – a giant named Benandonner. When McCool started to build a causeway to Scotland in order to challenge Benandonner to a battle, all hell started to break loose across the Sea. When he completed the work, the causeway stretched from North Antrim to Staffa. Benandonner accepted the battle to walk over to Ireland and fight for supremacy. As Benandonner appeared over the horizon, Finn McCool realized in horror that he had taken on a rival much bigger than himself. Out of fear, he ran home to his wife Oonagh to trick Benandonner. Not wanting her husband to die, Oonagh disguised Finn as a baby and made him curl up in an enormous cradle. When Benandonner saw the sight of this huge “baby”, he took fright, as he suspected the father McCool would be humongous. He ran back across the causeway to Scotland, tearing up he causeway in his wake, supposedly losing his boot and cutting his foot enroute. Some say the red algae pools are from droplets of his bloody foot, and the boot is his that he lost.

Finn McCool was a mythical hunter-warrior of Irish Mythology, who was also supposedly the father to the poet Oisin. His name, Fionn or Finn means “fair”, “white”, or “bright”. As a giant, he was believed to have built the Giant’s Causeway as a stepping stones pathway to Scotland so that he wouldn’t get his feet wet. Apparently, he had also scooped up a part of Ireland to flight at his rival giant Benandonner, but missed, having it land in the Irish Sea – and it was this clump that became the Isle of Man, and a pebble became Rockall, the void becoming Lough Neagh. There is also a cave in Scotland, sharing the hexagonal basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, that is called Fingal’s Cave. Most of the legends of Finn as a giant come from Manx Folklore.


Benandonner’s blood pool


Benandonner’s Boot

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Martine Fassier



Martine Fassier

Gallery at Trolls et Legendes Festival in Mons, Belgium: 4/11/09 – 4/12/09

www.martinefa.fr

Another amazing artist, Martine got her degree in arts and crafts, moving over to graphic arts, and finally illustration. She’s well known for her calligraphy, drawing, and photography. She gains her inspiration from ancient myths and folklore, cinema, and childhood tales. She primarily does book and postcard illustrations, exhibitions, and festivals, but soon to release a book of illustrated fables. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.


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