Centralia, Pennsylvania

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

This week’s “Before I Die…” post excites me as it is a location that I have actually visited.  Centralia, Pennsylvania is a modern-day ghost town and real life Silent Hill.  Yep, you heard me right, a real life Silent Hill.  Walking through town, knowing the world burns beneath your feet, you are on edge.  If you have seen the Silent Hill movies or played the video games, you can’t help to feel a panic in your chest, waiting for that air siren to sound.

In 1962, a fire started in an interconnected coal vein underneath the town and it has been burning ever since.  The fire is expected to continue burning for the next 1,000 years.  Before the fire started, the town had a population that was over 1100.  In the 1980s, the town had been almost completely evacuated.  Only about 11 residents remain – refusing to leave.  The buildings that are left, are uninhabited and are slowly falling into decay.

Centralia feels like it is not a part of this world.  Smoke and steam rise from gaping cracks in the Earth.  Heat radiates from the ground.  Your eyes and nose burn from the toxins in the air.  Silence eerily commands the air.  It truly feels like you are on the cusp of stepping into Hell.

I went through several videos, and found this one that resonated best with my experience visiting Centralia.  If you ever find yourself near Centralia, Pennsylvania, I highly recommend visiting the area.  However, a word of caution, the area is hazardous.  Steam escaping from the cracks in the Earth can be laced with toxins, which can be extremely dangerous if breathed in.  Also, the ground is in subsidence.  There is always a chance that the ground could give way beneath your feet.  Under no circumstances should you visit this area alone.


Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

I hate to admit that today’s location is still on my “Before I Die…” macabre bucket list.  Eastern State Penitentiary is only 45 minutes from my doorstep and I still have yet to step foot within the walls.  Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Eastern State has a 142-year history that is absolutely full of murder, torture, disease, insanity, and suicide.  The most sorrowful portion of the prison was the area used for solitary confinement.  Known as  “the Hole”, Eastern State’s version of solitary confinement was to be used as a means of rehabilitation.  Inmates transported to or from “the Hole” were garbed in a black hood, restricting visual contact.  “The Hole” was comprised of underground cells that were without with light, human contact, and toilets.  However, inmates were granted a minimal amount of food and air.  It is no wonder why so many inmates who were locked away in “the Hole” were driven to madness.

Sadly, prisoners outside of “the Hole” did not fare much better.  Torture and inmate abuse was rampant within Eastern State.  There are records of inmates being dunked in water baths and then put outside in frigid cold temperatures until ice formed on their skin.  Some were tied into a chair so tight that circulation was cut off to extremities, which later lead to amputations.  And then there were those inmates who had their arms and legs strapped from behind and an iron gag placed in their mouth.  Any movement caused the iron gag to cut and tear an inmates tongue.

It is no wonder that Eastern State Penitentiary is ranked as one of the most haunted places on the planet.  Violence and torture was in excess causing the prison itself to be filled such pain, agony, and sorrow.

If you should ever find yourself wandering around the cellblocks of Eastern State Penitentiary, be sure to check out these “haunted”  locations:

Cellblock 12 – known for echoing disembodied voices

Cellblock 6 – known for a shadowy figure that darts across the alls

Cellblock 4 – known for disembodied, ghostly faces

However, if you cannot access these locations on a tour, don’t worry, the rest of the penitentiary will not disappoint.  All across the entire prison and grounds there have been sightings of guards in unmanned towers, echoing footsteps, wails, whispers, and ghostly touching.

The Seven Gates of Hell

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

(c) 2014, Robyn LaRue

This week’s “Before I die…” locations has me giddy with terror!  Today’s post is kicking off the “Gateways to Hell” series.

From now until Halloween, each Monday’s “Before I die…” post will focus on a location that is thought to be a physical gateway to Hell.  Around the world there are several locations where local lore identifies a location to be a direct descent into the bowels of the Earth, into a lair filled with the most dreaded horrors.  Enter if you dare…

A physical gateway to Hell is said to be born when an act of terrible injustice or horrendous suffering occurs in one spot upon the Earth.  A colossal tragedy, like a mass death, is said to be the common occurrence that opens the portal to the underworld.  Several religions and mythologies attribute the opening of this portal due to the amount of hate, pain, and anger that is expelled into the spiritual realm from the horrific event.

The Seven Gates of Hell — Hellam Township, PA

Within the realm of Hellam Township, outside of York, Pennsylvania, local legend tells of a physical gateway to hell.

The gateway’s location is said to be located on Trout Run Road.  In the 1800s, a mental institution was erected in this remote location.  It is said that a fire broke out within the institution, and due facility’s distance from civilization, it burnt to the ground — the fire killing most patients who resided inside.  The remoteness of the institute was specially selected as this specific facility housed those patients who were deemed too insane for the regular state mental wards.  It was said that the patients who managed to escape the raging fire did not make it far off the grounds.  The locals who arrived to the burning facility would not allow the patients to escape.  The “deranged and dangerous” patients were soon captured and beaten to death by the townsfolk.

Now, the actual gates’ role in the story of “The Seven Gates of Hell” are in dispute.  One such story is that an eccentric doctor who resided on the institution’s property installed seven gates along a walking path that lead from the facility into the forest.  A second story was that the townsfolk erected the gates to assist in capturing the escaped patients.  In either case, one portion of each story is in agreement:  only one of the gates can be physically seen during the day, the other six can only be visible at night.  No one has ever made it past the fifth gate, but it is said that if all seven gates are passed, the person would transcend directly into hell.

A warning to those who are brave enough to go in search of these hellish gates, though the exact location of the gates remain a mystery legend has it that the gates do reside on private property.  So if you happen across the actual location of the gates, you should probably obtain permission to access — or you may be dealing with an angry devil of the human kind.

Sadly, I was unable to find any pictures of the Seven Gates to Hell that are not copyrighted.  If you would like to see some pictures of the gate (along with some super cool headstone photos), check out Sherrie’s photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/starycat/5604000280/in/photostream/