Harsh-looking geological landscapes are the planet’s character actors, and they are basically stuck with two roles: stand in for Hell, and more recently, an alien planet. Hell’s Half Acre has the honor of getting to play both.
Despite being a vast 300-acre canyon, this spiky, wrinkled landscape acquired its name when a lost cowhand stumbled onto it and mistakenly thought he had arrived in an area to the southwest also known as Hell’s Half Acre. (That area is made up of alkali bogs and is very different looking, indeed. The cowhand was obviously very confused.)
The name stuck; however, the cowhand wasn’t the first to ascribe devilish qualities to the area, which has previously been called “The Devil’s Kitchen”,”The Pits of Hades” and most charitably “The Baby Grand Canyon.”
The ravine was originally used by Native American tribes to drive buffalo off the cliffs of the 150-foot gorge and to their death. Converted to a roadside tourist attraction with a hotel and diner, the amazing landscape got its “close-up” in the film Starship Troopers playing the role of terrifying alien-bug-planet Klendathu.
In 2005 however, the local hotel and restaurant were closed down and abandoned, leaving locals to wonder what should be done with the ‘half acre.’ Some hope it may serve as an educational center but in the words of one local, the Half Acre “has really gone to hell.”