USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘cults’
Legends

devil’s gate dam – portal to hell

Text:

“So when we were younger would go to this place called the Devil’s Gate Dam where there was a large drain tunnel running through the middle of it and people would go and see how far they could go in before someone would chicken out. Personally none of use ever got to the end because we were all too scared because of the story surrounding it. The tunnel is said to have been created in the mid-20th century and was said to be a gateway to Hell by a group of cultists. There are articles online that say there’s absolutely nothing at the end other than a wall but we still believe there might be something in there because we’ve never made it all the way through. Honestly there probably is nothing but we like to believe in the mystery of it.”

Genre: urban legend

Background: The interviewee, NM is a young American man in his early twenties. He mentioned that this mysterious portal to Hell was common knowledge between all of the younger teens in his area, although no one knew its exact origins or its credibility. NM explained that he and his group of friends growing up had ventured to the dam’s tunnel several times carrying flashlights to light up the way. The flashlights illuminated the walls lined with graffiti which featured odd text, symbols, and creepy images of faces. This made the venture seemingly impossible to complete. The group of teens never made it even halfway. The tunnel is located underneath the 210 Freeway in Hahamongna Park (123 OAK GROVE DR, PASADENA, CA 91011). The dam itself was built in the 1920s and claimed its name because of its “Satan-resembling” rocks that surround it. The tunnel’s name attracted a group of cultists who followed L. Ron Hubbard and Aleister Crowley. The tunnel is said to be a huge paranormal hot spot with countless “reports of missing children in the area and bouts of manic laughter coming from the tunnel” (California Curiosities).

Nationality: Italian and American
Location: Pasadena, CA
Language: English

Interpretation: Immediately after hearing about this urban legend of a “portal to hell” a similar memory shot into my head. Back where I grew up in a neighboring city there was a similar drainage tunnel that individuals would attempt to explore named “Wonderland”. Like the Devil’s Gate Dam tunnel, this tunnel was lined with graffiti of disturbing images and the end was out of sight. This tunnel, however, split up into two different tracks halfway through, one a shorter yet much smaller tunnel, and one longer yet larger. Many locals in my area would put on clown masks and carry baseball bats in the tunnel to try to frighten unsuspecting kids who attempted to explore “Wonderland.” This led to some unfriendly encounters. The tunnel of “Wonderland” has no negative backstories other than mischievous teens, whereas the Devil’s Gate is seen as a portal to Hell that may lead to an encounter with the Devil himself. One of the key differences between this tunnel and the Devil’s Gate tunnel is what lies at the end. After running through the “Wonderland” tunnel you can make it to the other side with light greeting you at the end. All you have to do is shimmy out of a small exist and you are on the other side of the park; whereas with the Devil’s Gate tunnel, there is nothing at the end but a cement wall. This brings me to the question of “why is there a tunnel with nothing at the end?” This possibly could be explained by the fact that it actually was sealing a “Portal to Hell” as some may like to believe, or simply because it was used as an overflow.

“DEVIL’S GATE.” California Curiosities, 10 Jan. 2017, www.californiacuriosities.com/devils-gate/.

Folk Beliefs
Legends

Turnbull Canyon

“Supposedly, at Turnbull Canyon between Whittier and Hacienda Heights, there’s a satanic cult that do rituals and sacrifice people and animals. I think there’s some history to the land going back from when the Spanish came and occupied the land from the indigenous people. There was also a plane crash that happened there in which every one died. Some church and religious groups are supposed to go up to the hill to pray and try to rid of the evil around the area. I think there were several reports of mysterious murders that happened around there. Supposedly some bodies were found, some mangled, some hanging by trees, all in very creepy situations. Also, I think authorities believe a lot of it is purely from the place being ideal to leave dead bodies of murder victims at or to cause mischief at rather than evil or cultist activity. Some ritualistic items or animal burnings have been found, or I’ve heard from some friends that their friends had accounts of seeing dead bodies or strange people show up on the side of the road while they were driving through. There’s also an area called the Gates of Hell in which there’s supposed to be an abandoned building or an abandoned asylum of sorts. Some say there’s other group activity like the KKK or some other groups.
I drove 4 friends through there not necessarily to go check out the myths of the land or get in trouble but just to see the city lights from the hill and road. We got out and explored around some. All of the myth stuff I hadn’t heard before until we began exploring and my friends began to talk more about it. Since it was dark we never really strayed too far from the road but not too close to the road either because crazy drivers are always speeding through. I think we went to an area where there was a gate, where I parked my car and we got out and walked along the road close to the ravine. Nothing major happened and we couldn’t see much into the canyon because most of the area was dark except for the homes on the side. The air and feeling was definitely pretty creepy and I probably wouldn’t go back there again. I’ve had some friends who walked through the area when it was daylight and said they never saw anything, no reported building, or remains of sacrifices. There are just a lot of contrasting accounts of what happens or what people see there that it’s hard to know what actually happened.”

My informant stated that he visited this area his junior year of high school, and that he really felt strange during his whole visit. Just being there in person made him believe in the possibility of satanic cults practicing rituals there. Even if he never really saw anything in person, he believes these kinds of things happen in other places in the US other than Turnball Canyon. The experience just made him realize that there really are some things and people out there that are evil or being influenced by something evil, so people should always be constantly watchful. He is not suggesting that people necessarily live in total fear of these areas or possible groups, but to take caution and not do foolish things.

I am not quite sue if I would wholly believe all the rumors surrounding this Turnbull Canyon, as it seems like something you would hear from a friend of a friend of a friend. The legends of human sacrifices and murders seem a bit far-fetched, but I can see how you would come to believe in these rumors if you visited the actual site, especially at night. The setting of the area itself could and the atmosphere of telling scary stories of the place. Also, in this world, I believe that there are people with strange beliefs or even possible mental illnesses that can be committing frightening deeds, as there are always horrific stories popping up in the news. However, if there was a real danger of the area, I think law enforcement would have investigated the area, so this legend may come from the eerie atmosphere surrounding the area.

 

 

 

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