It’s not Halloween, but it’s never too early in the year for a good scare, especially in the name of small-town U.S. history. This story, like all the best ones, is real. It takes place in what we now know as the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. To be precise, at Latitude: 41° 15′ 28.80″ N and Longitude: -81° 33′ 20.39″ W is what has become something of an urban legend. Or more simply put in one spooky phrase: Hell Town. Today, what is left on the grounds of the once-thriving mill town in Ohio is more nothing than something. The United States government has excavated most of it. So now, aside from images uploaded to ghost threads and a handful of paranormal debunking pages online, all that’s left there is mostly land and a ton of questions. The stories told, some legitimate and other enhanced, give the place an unreal weight.
What we now know as Hell Town was the oldest village in the Summit County. This Boston township was founded in 1806 and along with Boston Village, Sagamore Hills, and Northfield Center Township was often referred to as Boston Mills. Boston Mills was once a thriving paper mill settled first in the 1820s. Their town economy flourished as the Ohio & Erie Canal, and later a train station brought people to the area. In 1960s when the national movement to save the forests in the United States began, and later when President Gerald Ford signed legislation giving the National Park Service the power to purchase land to establish natural parks in 1974, it was the beginning of the end.
The residents were bought (forced) out of their homes because the land they lived on was slated to become the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The government began buying the property from the people much quicker than they could demolish the homes and businesses. In a short amount of time, there were no people in the town, only abandoned houses and businesses boarded up with official federal government “NO TRESPASSING” signs, while others became practice targets for fire departments training newcomers. The village was emptily in shambles, essentially a ghost town.
The situation only worsened when the National Park Service acquired the Krejci Dump. This consisted of 47 acres of land near Boston Heights that had improperly disposed of toxic chemicals. This quickly spawned rumors of a chemical spill in a mutant town, complete with a mutant snake and a holiday known as “Python Day” to match. With nothing alive in northern part of the Summit County town, passersby started to get Roanoke vibes (remember the lost colony?). Rumors started and the legend was born. This is some of the gold that was said about the township and the truths behind them.
Hell Town’s Rumored Past and Present
The town’s claim to infamy is a church. While there are two churches, the Mother of Sorrows on Main Street South drew attention due to the upside-down crosses on the front. Needless to say, this was the catalyst for rumors of satanic churches and the town as a hub for satanic activities. In reality, the church has gothic elemental designs and architecture. Since that style isn’t incredibly popular these days, it could be deemed scary at times, but I’m sure in a deserted town in the middle of nowhere it can scare the pant off of anyone – yikes!
Another leg of the urban legend is the school bus. A family that purchased a house in need of repairs lived in a school bus while waiting for their house to be renovated. When they left, the bus remained on the land. Enter here, the rumor claiming that serial killers and/or mental patients, or Satanic cult members slaughtered a bus full of children, and the ghosts haunt the bus. Or my personal favorite, the inhabitants of the town tried to have the bus removed, however, they could never quite accomplish it as the process always resulted in injuries or deaths!
The end of the world is also another name for Stanford Road. Most roads within Hell Town are no longer in use. Road closure signs are in many places. One steep road, in particular, earned the name the end of the world because of a sharp turn which offers a deep drop just on the other side, making it appear that one would fall off the end of the world, especially when traveling at night. Travelers would say that “The road is possessed and there have been many fatal car crashes on it,” or “An evil force will try to take control of your car and force you to crash.” But, in reality, that’s just gravity on a dangerous, and thankfully now inaccessible, road.
Claims of crybaby bridges, slaughterhouses, and ghost stories all have a place in this town’s story as well. The city’s infamy stems from how rough and scary it looked, and the hell that its inhabitants went through. Although most of the stories are only stories at this point, the legend of Hell Town is still pretty spooky, whether it’s due to the unexpected nature life can hold or the grim visuals. What’s your take, reader? Do you have chills after reading or are you planning your trip to the empty grounds to see if you can feel any spirits?
This article was originally published on May 30, 2019.