Would you visit a place called Helltown; A place shrouded in mystery, with supposed toxic mutant creatures, and a maniac hearse driver that will chase you to “The End of the World”? If that’s not enticing enough, how about a serial killer who was rumored to have murdered a school bus full of children, and then kept the bus in front of his squatter home as a personal trophy?
My friends and I are some brave souls and Helltown had been on my personal radar for years. Boston Mills is the real and much less sinister name of this small town and it was just your average city that arose during the canal era. The Ohio and Erie Canal were used to transport goods up to Cleveland and Akron until they started using the railroad.
It wasn’t just one event that led to the demise of this small town, but time definitely took its toll. The Cleveland-Akron Bag Company was the major employer in the area, along with the quarries. A flood hit in 1913 and the town started losing it’s way. By 1975 there was a huge concern that too much development was taking over, and conservation efforts started.I have worked in real estate for many years, and I have often times read the clause about eminent domain to my buyers or renters, without giving it much thought. I would explain what it means, and then go on with the contract. For those who don’t know, eminent domain means that the government can come in at any time to take your home for private property or public use. They have to pay for the home, but the value is determined by them, not always a great a deal for the homeowners.
I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and loss that the residents of Boston Mills felt during those years. After the evacuations started, the town began to look like the sinister ghost town that people came to know. Empty houses, the abandoned school bus, a church with supposed satanic decorations and a cemetery fell prey to urban legends and the horror stories began. I have personally read or heard the following:
- If you go to Helltown, a crazed madman will chase you out of town in a ghostly hearse. There are different variations that I have heard of this story, one that the hearse disappears at the dead end signs and the other is that unspeakable things happen to those who have been caught.
- There is a road called “The End of the World” where it is supposed to feel as if you have driven off the edge of the world itself. The hearse driver was known to scare the drivers of the cars so badly that they would fly off the hill and wreck.
- Satanic rituals happened in the church and there were upside down crosses to prove it.
- Toxic waste was the real reason the town was abandoned and there were mutant people and a huge mutant python living in the woods watching your every move through town.
- Last but not least a serial killer set up shop in one of the abandoned houses where a bus was parked outside. It was said that he killed the busload of children, and kept the bus.
If you are into the paranormal, chances are you have already heard these stories and know of this spot. Based on the pictures and stories you’ll find online… you’d agree that Helltown was a suitable name. From years of crazy stories, we set out to find the truth…So, without further ado, lets dive into our Helltown trip!
We hopped into the car from Cincinnati and drove 3.5 hours up north with a hushed excitement rushing through the 3 of us. I had researched Helltown for many years and I was anxious because I’d heard the police patrolled the area pretty heavily. I had no idea what we would find when we got there. We got to our hotel, (A Holiday Inn Express) that was very close by and we hit the road based on the directions other explorers had left online. First of all, the area is freakin beautiful!!! Every road was lined with green… trees and fields lay everywhere surrounding us, and it was just so peaceful. It was not the creepy and desolate area I had imagined.
If you’re like us and have your camera with you, know that there is a fantastic bridge to stand under and shoot. There is a great area to pull off the road, and you can shoot to your hearts content. The fog was rolling in like crazy for us, and we took our artistic opportunity to capture it!
As it started to get dark, we found some other things in the area, but still no Helltown. I was afraid of getting caught driving through the dark back roads, so we headed back to the hotel for the night. The next day we had another adventure (another post soon!) but we finally made our way to Helltown, and we found it! We drove through Boston Mills, and it’s actually a very touristy area now. We drove down the road and headed back to the dead end street. There is no parking back there as a heads up, so we had to turn back around and park in the visitors spots about a mile down the road near the old gas station.
Once we parked we walked a ways back down the road until we hit the dead end sign, and started walking on the old road that used to lead into the city. We found an old red barn off the path and stopped to take a few pictures.
The road nicknamed “The End of the Road” is the actual road that you walk on to get into the heart of park. It’s pretty crazy when you actually get to the top and think of the cars that may have sped up here to get away from the crazy hearse driver.
We quickly realized that the sinister little town was no longer here. The only trace of it now, are the small buildings they decided to restore, and this old road. They finally took the area and turned it into the park that it was intended to be. There are so many nature trails through here now, and it was a beautiful and peaceful day. After we wandered around through the park, we headed back to the gas station and learned that it’s an art gallery now. They have truly turned the place into what it was meant to be all those years ago. As far as the urban legends go, here are the facts that I found:
- I had researched the hearse story, and I have actually seen a few conflicting things on this. The first scenario is actually pretty funny if it’s true. There was a resident in town who had owned the hearse and he DID used to scare the trespassers for some fun. He would follow them back to the edge of town and turn back around to head home. The problem with this area though is the street named “The End of the World.” This is still there today and it is pretty neat to see. It’s called that because if you were driving up it, it has such a steep grade, you may feel as if you are about to drive off the end of the world once you crest the top. If the hearse were chasing the kids out of town, I’m sure there had to be at least a few accidents up there. The other theory and probably more likely is that none of it ever occurred.
- Ok, so the End of the World… that would have been a pretty creepy road if you were driving on it, especially at night. There are quite a few twists and if you were going a high rate of speed, you car could potentially leap off the hill and case the ground below pretty hard. Even today I have to admit, there is just an unsettling feeling walking up that old road, knowing that it was once a major way of travel.
- There are soooooo many stories of the satanic happenings, and I was not able to see any evidence of it, or really find much clout to it. I think that when something sits abandoned and has no ready known story satanic happenings are automatically associated with all of it. From what I have read, the church did appear to have upside down crosses, but it was only part of the old decoration style from the 1800’s. Nothing sinister about that. It was an Irish Catholic church called Mother of Sorrows and they were your normal run of the mill church.
- Toxic waste… this one is tricky. In real life, there was no actual toxic waste spill anywhere in Helltown. There was talk of a hiker getting sick after he touched a chemical coming out of a barrel in a nearby dump. But the whole mutant creation is obviously a little far fetched.
- The serial killers house with the bus out front, was much less interesting. A family had purchased a home in Helltown and were renovating it. As the repairs were being done, they decided to pull a school bus out front, tear out the seats and live in it.
I’m always game for a good ghost story, but the truth behind these stories is closer to real life events with a sadness that lingers f0r those families who were ripped away from all they had worked for. The government stepped in, took the property and then fell behind and let the city sit in shambles. There were still a few home owners who had managed to keep their homes throughout this whole ordeal, but they too are now gone. What’s left today is The Cuyahoga Valley Park, and there is so much to see. We hopped aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, wandered to a seemingly abandoned church, and witnessed a beautiful waterfall. Even though the town is gone, I’m glad that we made the journey, and if you love nature you should too.