USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Location’
general
Legends
Magic

Gravity Hill

JC: “Gravity Hill is a place in Mentor, Ohio, which is upa round the Lake Erie shore, north of Cleveland. And I have no idea why, how we planned the trip that got us all the way up there, four and a half, five hours up from Dayton. But we had heard about it, and I believe we had even seen it on That’s Incredible, which was a TV show that sort of anthologized folklore and weirdness and Guinness Book things and so on. So we drove up to Mentor Ohio, a group of us, in high school. And the road it’s on, I don’t remember what the road is called, but we had to look it up on a map–a paper map, cause there were no Internets, and we got to the place on the road where it was, and we had to take the car, and put it in neutral, at the bottom of what looks like a hill, and then the car slowly goes up the hill and gathers a little bit of speed. Apparently, somehow, it’s just an unbelievably convincing optical illusion, but it really feels like your car is being pulled uphill. Like it looks like it’s uphill, it really does look that way. So that’s Gravity Hill.”

Background: JC is an Ohio native. He and his friends likely heard about this Gravity Hill, or a similar phenomenon, from television.

Interpretation:

The Gravity Hill phenomenon is fairly common, and dozens of these stretches of road exist around the world. The conditions required to maintain the illusion come about naturally or unintentionally in many places in the United States, and most of these places likely have their own set of stories surrounding them, with some similarities and more variations. JC had no further information about this particular hill with regards to any stories surrounding it. This particular feature was considered just an illusion by JC and his friends.

Interestingly, there is a Gravity Hill nearby in Altadena, California, which has further folklore surrounding it. A range of ghost stories involving crashed school buses or cars of cheerleaders claim that this particular hill is haunted, and perhaps the “magnetic” effect is ghostly hands pushing your car to ensure you don’t meet the same fate as they did. A common practice of “ghost hunters” is to put baby powder or flour on the front or back of their car, and see if handprints show up while rolling “uphill.”

 

For more information on Gravity Hill in Altadena, see another local account of this gravity hill: http://folklore.usc.edu/?p=34587

Legends
Narrative

The Lover’s Leap

Informant is from Modesto, California, up in the northern part of the state. This is an area that

“So there is a place off of the freeway right by my city called the Lover’s Leap, and it’s like a big cliff area that overlooks the area. According to legends, there was once a young man and a young woman who were part of different warring Native American tribes who fell in love with each other. However, their tribe elders would not let them be together, no matter how much they pleaded and begged, as the clans really hated each other. So, one day, the two lovers came together and decided to run off with each other, but they were discovered by their respective tribes, who went to go and tear them apart. As a result, they ran until they reached the edge of the cliff, and seeing that there would be no way for them to be together as long as their tribes fought, they both made the leap off of the cliff to their deaths, hence the name The Lover’s Leap. It’s a really sad story actually, and it reminds me a lot of Romeo and Juliet.”

Do a lot of people go there?

“Yeah, I mean, it’s a pretty cool place just to get a view of the surroundings, and a lot of younger people our age will go there to hang out and sometimes do illegal things though. I think its a neat part of the city’s history and its background.”

 

Collector’s Comments:

This story sounds almost exactly like Romeo and Juliet, although within a Native American context, which makes sense because California was inhabited by many different Native American tribes long before anyone else was here. This makes me wonder if the story itself had originated from the Native American peoples themselves, or if it was made up later by people who had known of Romeo and Juliet beforehand, and had adapted it to fit their own surroundings. Either way, it is a fascinating explanation for the name of a location.

[geolocation]