Hellam Township was founded in 1739, a pleasant little backwater in a corner of York, Pennsylvania. It boasts rich forestry, lakes, wildlife and waterfalls… although residents are somewhat less thrilled by the presence of an alleged hellgate in the township.
The Seven Gates of Hell feature is a popular piece of urban folklore, a series of portals in the Hellam Township which open an entrance to the fiery pit below. There are many different tellings of the tale; though one of the more popular versions links the gates to a former insane asylum on the outskirts of the town. This story describes a fire at the asylum in the nineteenth century, which allowed the dangerous inmates to escape. Running wild, many of them were recaptured, beaten, or killed. Other tormented souls were trapped inside a series of gates, which they haunt to this day.
It is said that only the first gate is visible by daylight, and this lies on private land just off the town’s Trout Run Road. By night, other gates become visible in this quiet, wooded corner of the township. Passing through all seven will take the visitor straight to hell, and it’s reported that nobody has yet passed five and returned to talk about the experience.
Another story deals with a local doctor, accounts of whom range from eccentric to psychotic. He was said to have owned the land, on which he built a series of peculiar gates leading deeper and deeper into the forest.
The myth has caused a lot of upset and frustration for the residents of Hellam Township, and the township’s own website has denounced the stories as nonsense. There was never an asylum on Trout Run Road, while the notorious doctor – who did in fact exist – only ever built one gate on his property. Other claims that Hellam Township was named after hell itself, are also dispelled; the name comes from a corruption of “Hallamshire,” an area of South Yorkshire in England.
Try as they might to dissuade visitors however, Hellam Township still receives its fair share of hell seekers – as well as numerous satanic cults, who reputedly use Hellam as a meeting place from time to time. There have been numerous instances of residents calling the police, as visitors trespass through private land in search of the gates.