Clifton's Gates of Hell – Clifton, New Jersey - Atlas Obscura
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Clifton's Gates of Hell

Clifton, New Jersey

Series of storm drains connected to a dark urban legend. 

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From the outside, the Gates of Hell, located behind the old Black Prince Distillery in Clifton, New Jersey, look like any other collection of drains. But once you climb inside you’ll see that the drains—the home of the devil according to an old urban legend—are covered with satanic graffiti and murals from generations of those who have dared to enter.

The Gates of Hell drain stands out from others nearby because it is square in shape and dry, while all others drains in the area typically have streams of water flowing from them. You need to climb down to reach all the storm drains. You can either jump down near the Gates’ entrance or look for the nearby ladder (it’s located near another drain entrance). Reportedly, the drains go on for hundreds of feet underground, layered nine times just like the circles of hell, and are filled with the remains of satanic sacrifices—bones, decaying carcasses, crosses, and more.

According to the legend, there is a room deep underground that can be entered only by those possessed with the powers to lift giant axes that weigh thousands of pounds and block the doors. The room is filled with a glowing human skull that is the last sign before you encounter the devil himself. Other, slightly more plausible legends, tell of people drowning in the drains, while trying to explore them and the rooms underground being used as meeting places for devil worshippers and members of the KKK.

Know Before You Go

Park at the Pathmark on the corner of Paulison Avenue and Clifton Avenue From there, walk down Clifton Avenue toward the railroad tracks and then turn left on Fornelius Avenue. Past the second building, there is a path that leads up to the tracks. Cross the tracks and proceed down the embankment. You will see two sunken concrete areas each surrounded by fencing. An active drainage pipe flows into the one on the right. Two pipes open into the one on the left. The inactive one, on the right as you face them, is the Gates. Safety Notes: There used to be a ladder that would take you down into the sunken concrete area, but it is gone now. It is a short drop in but requires some scrambling or lifting to get out. Also, the areas over which water flows are smooth and coated with slippery residue. Tread carefully.