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Gravity Roads

Debate rages amongst believers and skeptics on the phenomenon of a “gravity hill,”––where cars seemingly roll up the slope when placed in neutral. Scores of these roadbed oddities are located in California, and it’s not often more than a short drive to experience one. Locals and visitors pepper the locations with stories of tragedy that just ratchets the weirdness up a few notches.

Numerous “mystery hills” that dot this great land make use of this strange trick on the senses. The Santa Cruz Mystery Spot is located on a steep hillside in the mountains east of the beachside town, and allows the visitor to witness the miracle of ball

bearings running up an incline. Former FBI Special Agent Walter Bosley says that the place was a favorite with the Russian agents and Mafiosos he was assigned to follow. We didn’t see anyone with Russian accents at the gravity hills we tested, but perhaps it’s just a matter of time before secret meetings  and deals are consecrated in cars slowly rolling up hills in remote locales. (Incidentally, the other recreational destination of choice for spies and crooks is apparently much further south at Disneyland, where everything unfortunately rolls downhill.)

One of the most persistent legends associated with the hills is the “school bus tragedy.” “Katie” relates the typical story on the web site www.thelighthouseonline.com:

I live in Southern California and there is a "Gravity Hill" in Moorpark. The story goes that a group of kids were on a school bus going on a field trip when the bus suddenly broke down.  Some of the kids decided to get out and push the bus up the hill but when they did it rolled back and crushed them killing them instantly.  Now when you park your car there supposedly the kids push you up the hill.

On the same web page “Darryl’ posted a different version of the school bus tale centered around another gravity hill near Livermore:

Not so long ago, there was a bus filled with 5th graders on the way down Patterson Pass to drop off a child at his house down the road. Their bus got stuck going up the hill, so the kids got out to push. The gravity forced the bus backwards, and before the kids knew it, they were crushed. There is a road farther down named after the children, the road name is "Don't Forget Us." You can check that out, too.

A fun way to test this theory has also been making the rounds for years. Dust the rear (or front—depending on the direction of roll) of the car with baby powder or flour before the emergency brake is released. The legend says that fingerprints will show up. These are supposed to be the prints left by children from beyond who are trying to save you from a fiery fate. We tried this and only found our own prints on the car. This is the same method used by crime investigators when “dusting for prints.” We plan to wipe the trunk clean before the next run.

Party poopers have an explanation, which seems to work, and a few have actually examined gravity hills with carpenter’s levels, topographical maps, and even laser beams. They contend that the effect is an illusion caused by the lack of visual cues (or the presence of erroneous ones) that usually tell us when we are going up or down. “Gravitational anomalies” they say, are almost always located in areas where the horizon is obscured, and trees or other objects in the area are not exactly vertical. This seemingly reassuring explanation does nothing to prepare one for the real experience.

Southern California gravity hills are many, and Weird California has tested three that seem to work. Remember to try this early in the morning or very late at night when traffic is light and you may be less likely to encounter other drivers or the police, who apparently frown on this sort of recreation for some reason, but that’s their job.

San Diego: Sorrento Drive exit from Interstate 5 south—car will move backward up the hill from the stoplight.

La Jolla: West Muirlands Drive between Nautilus St. and Fay St.  The best effect was found traveling west from Nautilus to Fay.  Once you are on Muirlands there is a sharp curve to the left. Shortly after this, stop and line up your right rear tire with the telephone pole on the side of the street (the one with three yellow reflective strips.) Car rolls uphill. This street is quite busy during the day: be extra cautious.

Altadena: Exit Lake Ave. north from the 134. Right at East Altadena Dr. Left on Porter, then uphill to East Loma Alta drive and go left again. After a couple of dips in the road, it curves to the right and a flood control spillway appears on the left. Stop in front of the first house at right. Car rolls backwards uphill. (The same effect can be observed on the other side of the street, but it is not as pronounced. The strange thing about this is that there are not nearly as many “visual clues” in this direction!)

Los Angeles Gravity Road

Dear Weird CA;
I live in LA, and I just went to a gravity hill we have around here a couple nights ago. It’s near Moorpark Community College. The story goes that in the 1940's a school bus was taking some kids to school when the bus broke down. The 6th grade kids all got out of the bus and were waiting behind the bus in the shade for someone to come to fix it or tow it or something like that. Apparently one of the farmers who lived on one of the farms around there came driving down the road in his truck not paying any attention at all, and ended up running into the kids so that they were pinned between his truck and the bus. Now, when you go to the bottom of the hill

in the road and put your car in neutral, you'll be pushed forward uphill.

Legend is that it’s the kids pushing you out of the way before the farmer can run you over.  –Christine

San Diego’s Gravity Road

Dear Weird US;
I live in California. I was wondering if you knew any stories about Gravity Hills over here in San Diego. A group of friends and I went to an off ramp on Sorrento Rd. Drive South. We stopped at the streetlight at the bottom and we tried the stalled car trick. We had heard all the different legends about the place so we tried it. The weird thing was it really worked. We started to move back up the road!  –Jennifer

Gravity Hill is All an Illusion

San Diego's Gravity Road is actually in Spring Valley, Ca., about 20 miles east of San Diego. You can't notice the illusion any longer since homes were built, but I live there and checked it out many times. Very cool, as long as you looked toward the hill. If you looked backwards you knew it was just an illusion. The name of the street is La Presa, on the SE side of Dictionary Hill.   –John W. Cavoulas

Handprints in the Baby Powder at Gravity Point

There is a Gravity Point in San Bernardino County. I have friends who have tried it and they say it works. The story is the same premise as the bus and the farmer who hit it, but it is railroad tracks, and supposedly when you put baby powder or dust on your rear bumper, you will see little hand prints in it after being "pushed" onto the tracks.  –Jennifer McClure

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride on Gravity Hill–Altadena

Gravity Hills is located in Altadena, California, tucked away in the hills that are the entrance to a winder drive that us kids used to call “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.” The twists and sharp turns made Mr. Toad’s a great place for those of us with fresh drivers licenses to haul ass through with reckless abandon. Gravity Hill marks the entrance to Mr. Toad’s and is the area just before a rickety bridge that makes a great setting for an urban legend. On the hill before the bridge, you put your car in neutral and the car will mysteriously travel backwards up the hill at about two miles an hour. This is great fun when showing out-of-towners around the Pasadena/Altadena area. Usually it is mind-boggling for those who are new to the experience. Of course with anything as amazing as our Gravity Hill, which is known mostly to local youngsters, there is a legend associated with it.

This road used to be used back in the day by people who’d travel in their horse-drawn carriages and such. An old Indian man was crossing the bridge and cornered too fast causing him to crash into the side of the bridge and plummet to his death in the shallow riverbed below. Legend has it that his restless spirit remains, to prevent such an untimely death from happening to anyone else who crosses this bridge. His spirit pulls you back up the hill to prevent you from going too fast around the curve and crashing to your death.

Well, as with any legend, there are many inconsistencies to this story, and to be completely honest, that last sentence I made up because the details on the last part were extremely fuzzy. I cant recall if it is my memory, or more likely, that the end of the story itself was fuzzy when people would tell it. 

Then entrance to Mr. Toad's is off of Loma Alta Drive, the 1200 East Block, between the Rubio Crest Drive and Sunny Oak Circle. To get there you would take Altadena Drive then make a Left on Mendocino. Going West on Mendocino make a Right on Porter. Going North on Porter, make a Left on Loma Alta Drive, following the curve around the hill and when the hill starts sloping downward, by Sunny Oak Circle, you have found Gravity Hill.

Twilight at Gravity Hill is wonderfully eerie and creepy. Especially the area over the bridge where the Indian man supposedly died. We thought we would try out Gravity Hill just for kicks and a little nostalgia. Sure enough, it still works! And it still does not fail to boggle the mind! It is just as weird as when we were kids. About a year ago, I was doing some research for a book I thought I would write once, trying to find a scientific and logical explanation for Gravity Hill. I was not able to find anything (at least in layman's terms that I could understand) so if you happen to know of a logical explanation, please share it with me. I love the metaphysical, however I am very objective by nature and there must be an explanation for such phenomena.  –Theadora Kelly

More Push-Me-Pull-You Places to Check Out

Just to drive home the point of how widespread and pervasive Gravity Roads are throughout the state, here a just a few letters that we’ve received from readers telling us about their favorite antigravity locales:

Cars are pushed uphill while sitting near a spot on Empire Mine Road. Supposedly, a school bus crashed here, and the ghosts of the children who died in the accident are responsible for the gravity defiance.  –Erika S.

A broken hearted girl was driving on Lichau Road just after being dumped by her boyfriend. In her rage she drove recklessly, hit a bump, followed by a tree, and died. Now those who place their cars in neutral on this bump are pushed away from the tree by her ghost. Look for the sign marked “Santiago” as your starting point.  –Rachel T.

One hundred yards beyond a set of train tracks on Glen Helen Road is a stop sign. Cars on the hill leading up to this stop sign roll uphill instead of down. This is the work of the ghosts of six children who died on the road.  –Kevin McCauley

In San Diego suburb of Jamul, where I come from, there is a story that a school bus full of children was struck by a train sometime in the 1950s. Now, when one parks their car on the tracks, childish screams and laughter can be heard. Oftentimes, people say that they have been pushed backwards off the tracks by some unseen force. –Jose Z.

Moreno Valley
Motorists taking the Nason Street overpass south find that they are mysteriously pushed up the overpass when in neutral. This is said to be caused by the ghosts of children who were hit by a large truck there.

Also in Moreno Valley is Priest Hill. It’s said that on a lonely, dark night a priest broke down here and was struck and killed by a passing car. Now he pushes cars up the hill where he died––sometimes they’ll even find his handprints on their car afterwards. –Shaun B.

San Bernardino
Motorists who take Old Waterman Canyon Road off of Route 18, also known as Rim of the World Drive, have experienced a gravity defying phenomenon. Putting a car in neutral on the first small bridge will cause the car to roll backwards uphill. Me and my friends have tried it ourselves on many occasions and it really works!  –Jared R.

Turnbull Canyon Road is the supposed home of Satanic cults as well as a hotspot for UFO sightings. Motorists sometimes hear strange knocking sounds around their cars. Even more common are reports that placing your car in neutral on a certain hill on the road will cause your car to roll backwards uphill.  –Samantha Quinn

To find a Gravity, or should we say “Anti-Gravity” Road near you, pick up a copy of Weird California today

Weird California


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