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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 The original Bridge in March 1913 was swept away and has since been replaced by a new concrete monster.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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Hotel California – Urban Legend?

Hotel California, Around San Francisco, California.

The Hotel California, Fact myth or legend?
~

Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

“The Hotel California” ~
A fictional place, but full of urban myths and legends.

The “California Hotel” photo above, is NOT of course the place of the legend from the Song, nor was it the headquarters for Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. I’m actually not sure of the history of the actual hotel in this photo, but it called to mind my memories about this urban legend. (The photo above MIGHT be the California Hotel of historic landmarks, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Hotel as it was in Oakland. The California Hotel historic is a important cultural center for the African-American community of San Francisco’s East ay during the 40’s-60’s, it experienced severe economic difficulties and turned into subsidized housing in the 80s)

I first came across the urban legend in 1990 at the Starwood festival when I was hanging out with a Satanist from the Church of Satan who first told me the tale … “one of the members of the Eagles was at this bar and got drunk with Anton LaVey’s daughter, she brought him home that night to her hotel room (at the Hotel California where supposedly the headquarters of the Church of Satan resided), they became lovers. Apparently he was so tied up in the affair with her that he disregarded showing up to band practice or responsibilities, and in a sense “never could leave” the hotel. When He snapped out of it, he apparently wrote the song about the experience hanging with the Church of Satan. A similar tale was told to me by my mentor Isaac Bonewits, founder of ADF (Ar nDraoicht Fein – A Druid Fellowship) who briefly joined the Church in his youth, but was so rambunctious and a trouble maker, the Church of Satan actually kicked him out of their group. (I do know that to be true as I’ve seen historic film reels of him in their ranks. Apparently he was recruited after creating a parodic devil’s throne upon which he proselytized on at UoC Berkeley to harass the local bible thumper on campus. They ran across him, were impressed, and asked him to join. )

I digress, back to the original legend. Some claim that Larry Salter, the Eagle’s manage admitted in the Waco Tribune-Herald (Feb. 28, 1982) that the Eagles were involved with the Church of Satan. Oddly the Church of Satan was first legally registered as “Hotel California” (legal entity name). But the Eagles claim far and wide, they were not associated with the Church and it was a leap that people jumped to. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_California)

The Eagles claim that the “Hotel California” is an allegory about hedonism and greed in Southern California in the 1970s. As they first experienced California at that time, they were impressioned that California was about money, drugs, women, and fame – true hedonism, and they were disquieted by it all pushing that un-ease into their lyrics to warn others about the dark underside of such adulation – “a loss of innocence”, corruption of the artist in California imprisoned in a gilded prison that the artist freely enters that he cannot leave. It is not actually a place, but a metaphor of the west’s music industry and its effect on musicians ensnared by it. (http://www.snopes.com/music/songs/hotel.asp)

To make matters worse, many conspiracy theorists have marked that “Anton LaVey” (leader of the Church of Satan, San Francisco) can be seen in the balcony window as depicted on the album cover for the record “Hotel California”.

    Mirrors on the ceiling,
    The pink champagne on ice
    And she said ‘We are all just prisoners here, of our own device’
    And in the master’s chambers,
    They gathered for the feast
    They stab it with their steely knives,
    But they just can’t kill the beast

    Last thing I remember, I was
    Running for the door
    I had to find the passage back
    To the place I was before
    ‘Relax,’ said the night man,
    ‘We are programmed to receive.
    You can check-out any time you like,
    But you can never leave!’

The urban myth has odd facts and twisted thoughts behind it, and whether or not those with the inside knowledge are telling the truth and the Eagles are covering it up to save their reputation, or it is quite a bit of hog-wash and conjecture, we’ll never know. Frey and Henley claim that as much as people want to know what the song was about, they really don’t know themselves. It was an attempt at a “twilight zone” influence and many beliefs are abound. (http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-35347075)

Of course the fundamentalist Christian organizations still claim it is a Satanic song, the band was gifted their success by dealing with the Devil (dueling banjos) at the crossroads giving their lives for their success. They won’t let go of this urban legend regardless. (https://ministryofrock.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/is-hotel-california-satanic/, http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Wicca%20&%20Witchcraft/anton_lavey2.htm, https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-song-meaning-of-Hotel-California, https://stewartstaffordblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/19/does-satan-reside-at-the-hotel-california/)

And Cracked hosts a good explanation of it all here: http://www.cracked.com/article_19454_5-famous-hidden-song-meanings-that-are-total-b.s..html

If you would like to contact the author about this review, need a re-review, would like to advertise on this page, or have information to add, please contact us at technogypsie@gmail.com.

Hotel California, Around San Francisco, California. (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=33601) ~ Pacific Coast Highway 101 – Driving North to Oregon through California – Great Pacific Northwest Move 2013. Photos from Thursday, 26 September 2013. (c) 2013 – photo by Leaf McGowan, Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions (www.technogypsie.com/photography/). Purchase rights and/or permissions to use can be obtained at site listed here. To follow the adventure, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/. To read reviews visit http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/.

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Dead Mary (R: 2007)

Dead Mary (R: 2007)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0892047/

Director: Robert Wilson. Starring: Dominique Swain … Kim; Marie-Josée Colburn … Eve; Steven McCarthy … Baker (as Steve McCarthy); Maggie Castle … Lily; Michael Majeski … Dash; Reagan Pasternak … Amber; Jefferson Brown … Matt; and others.

Its the classic telling of the urban legend of speaking Bloody Mary in the mirror with a candle three times when you’re by yourself to make her appear; though this twist is that it’s Dead Mary. The gang of old friends plus a new 21 year old girlfriend of one of the friends get together in a cabin on a lake and invoke the demon Mary amongst their midst. Mixed with the drama of relationship woes between Matt and Kim who recently broke up, the hostility attracts negative essences into the cottage. After the Dead Mary game, the evil witch possesses several of them leading to a campy slasher flick bloodbath. Fun flick if you’re into the supernatural bloodbath genre. Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.

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