What can you say about a place called Helltown? Helltown is one of Ohio’s most famous horror/supernatural legends. It’s a good example of the way folklore can get really complicated. There is no single haunted farmhouse, no headless train conductor, or ghostly children running around in the woods. Helltown is home to six or seven separate legends, each with dozens of variations. All of which has led this area in Boston Township to be grouped as one haunted site and given an evil-sounding name.
Helltown is actually the northern part of Summit County, encompassing several towns, including Boston, Boston Township, Peninsula, Sagamore Hills, and Northfield Township. The area is often referred to as Boston Mills.
Here are some of the Legends!
These are two alternate names for Helltown. The excellent website Ghosts of Ohio did an impressive job of researching the Helltown stories, and found out that the area was first called “Mutant Town” when the federal government bought up the land in the area in 1974 to create the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area. They boarded up most of the houses they bought and put US Government “No Trespassing” signs everywhere because there had been a chemical dump in the area. So naturally everyone assumed there were slimy mutants wandering around murdering people.
“Mutane Town” seems to be a simple misspelling of “Mutant Town,” although on another site I here that some one sent them an e-mail which assured him that there had been a butane plant in the area, which somehow led to this name. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Neither is it true that there was a chemical spill in Boston Township.
Thanks to Ghosts of Ohio for the picture.
This one goes with the Satan worshiping made against the entire town. The Church, called “Mother of Sorrows” in the real world, has upside-down crosses on it. People say that all the people in the area worship Satan and that there are animal mutilations and satanic symbols all over the place. All of these things lead to the church which is actually an early Irish Catholic church. I have heard the Black masses are conducted here and also there have been reports of midnight satanic masses held in the basement. However, an investigation has confirmed that the church does in fact have some upside-down crosses on it. The upside-down crosses are just a feature of Gothic revival architecture. There is a larger, more prominent right side-up cross atop the steeple.
There is also a direct connection between this church and the spooky Mater Dolorosa Cemetery, located about two miles from the church. “Mater Dolorosa” is Latin for Mother of Sorrows. The deceased members of this church are buried there.
There are a lot of ghost stories from the scary cemetery on top of a hill. It contains graves dating back to the 1800s. There are stories of the cemetery being haunted and that there are ghosts or spirits around the graveyard. One story is that a ghost sits on a bench in the cemetery at night. The cemetery exists and is worth a trip to see, but don’t expect anything bizarre to happen to you.
Getting back to the story, guess what there’s is no bench, and the cemetery is pretty ordinary. Lately the Boston locals have installed floodlights at the cemetery and patrol it regularly, so if you’re going up there, be careful.
This one has some creepy elements. A haunted school bus with all the seats removed is said to sit at the edge of the woods in Helltown. Legend has it that the kids it was hauling on its last trip were killed by a crazy killer/bunch of crazy killers. They say sometimes you can see either the kids or their killer/killers inside. If it’s a single killer, he sits in the back smoking a cigarette.
However, as the reliable Ghosts of Ohio discovered, the truth is much more ordinary. A guy who was repairing his home lived in the old bus with his family until they could move into the house. The bus has since been towed away.
Thanks to Ghosts of Ohio for the picture.
A steep, winding road with a sudden stop is called “the end of the world” road. It’s actually Stanford Road. Nothing too supernatural here, although you’ll hear some weird rumor or another occasionally. There is a good drop off into Brandywine Creek near the road which creates the illusion that you’re driving next to a much larger chasm.
Old Road – Thanks to Ghosts of Ohio for the picture.
Legend has it that you’ll be chased by a hearse if you go to Helltown. A local guy did own a hearse for a while, but I doubt he chased very many people with it. People claimed to actually have been chased by the spectral hearse, which then disappears. Maybe they mistook another car for the hearse.
There’s a slaughterhouse not far from the cemetery, or so they say. The Ghosts of Ohio website reports that it’s just part of an old barn. Over time it acquired a reputation as a haunted slaughterhouse where you would see faces if you looked through the windows at night. People also call this building the “abandoned funeral home,” but it’s not.
Of course, Helltown has a crybaby bridge. The actual story is a little fuzzy on the details but at some point in the past, a child was supposedly thrown off the bridge and died in the Cuyahoga river below.
However, the story is not nearly as important as the experiment itself. The rules of this bridge are the most complicated. The following steps must be followed exactly. If you miss one, and the experiment will fail. Here are the Step by Step directions:
- Bring along a spare set of car keys.
- Go there at night.
- Park the car on the bridge.
- Turn off the car.
- Put your other set of car keys in your pocket.
- Get out of the car.
- Lock the doors.
- Walk away from the bridge.
- Wait “a while.”
- Go back to your car.
Upon returning, the car will be mysteriously running, and you will find dusty child’s footprints on the outside of your car.
The bridge is located off of Riverview Road, and leads into Boston Township. The bridge that exists there is quite new. It was built in 1999, replacing a much-older covered bridge that was repeatedly damaged by floods and other elements. The new bridge was constructed using the original piers and abutments, which can still be seen around the foundation.
While exploring underneath the bridge, I discovered many suspicious-looking footprints.
Only minutes after I found all the footprints, I came upon this weird find in another section under the bridge. In the sand there looks like a babies bed, or some kids playing in the sand around the river.
I guess we will never know?
What conclusions can we draw? Well, the stories are all easily explained, so it’s probably not a particularly supernatural place. But the presence of so much discarded junk from the recreational area takeover, as well as the tendency of the area to fill up with fog, make it a creepy place. It is also certainly a fascinating bit of local folklore.
Sources and Related Links
- Forgotten Ohio: Hell Town (Not Cleveland)
- Ohio Lost: Hell Town Page
- ARCHIVED: Legends of Hell Town
- Dead Ohio: Helltown!!
- Dead Ohio: Return to Helltown
- Ohio Forgotten: Helltown Barn