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Fri September 11, 2009
Witches, ghosts and bigfoot! Caldwell County lore
By Rebecca Feldhaus
Princeton, KY – As I sped down Kentucky Highway 62, the butterflies in my stomach stood at attention. I arrived at Crider Dulaney Rd. to meet Kate Prince, Executive Director of the Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce while the sun was sitting lazily in the sky.
After I contacted Prince, she decided to do some digging, and found the scary background stories are many. She questioned her parents and grand parents, searched the internet and talked to local believers.
"The story in this book is just one of the many I think. I actually called my parents and some of my friends yesterday and I said, Do you remember the story you heard about Gravity Hill?' I got different stories where there was a car of children and they were run over by a train, and so now the children's spirits push you up the hill, or through the viaduct. There's all different stories about what happened and why this is called Gravity Hill."
So if no one can keep the story straight, what other explanations are there? Seemingly against the rule of physics, Gravity Hill has scientists scoffing.
"I do know there was a study done on gravity hill and different magnetic hills and things like that, and supposedly there's not a reason other than the earth is sloping up instead of down, and they say it's an optical illusion, they say that's the only explanation they have for it."
Though Gravity Hill is not the most popular paranormal attraction in the county, there is a considerable amount of activity from thrill seeking teenagers and Halloween time ghost-chasers.
"It seems to be the thing to do, no matter whether you're on your first date, or whether you're with your group of friends, it's a very big attraction around here for our youth and for youth around our area."
Being an outsider to this creepy story, I made sure to read up on the protocol. When visitors come to gravity hill they need to remember the piece de resistance: white powder.
"You're supposed to pull up, put your car in neutral, and you already have your powder on, your powder or your flour, and so you can see hand prints on the back of the car where they're pushing you up the hill. You can do it either way, they say it works best if you go forward and not backward."
In Jeffrey Scott Holland's book Weird Kentucky he writes Princeton's Gravity Hill has been a local attraction for a few generations. Upon hearing about gravity hill for the first time, I expected a large sloping mountain that would eerily draw one's car toward the peak. Though gravity hill is little more than a smooth slope, the pull in the car is undeniable.
"So the car's off and, we're still rolling."
"Yeah, and you'll still completely roll, you'll roll the whole way."
"And now we're gaining speed."
"Yeah, and that's why they say it's an optical illusion, because they say it supposedly looks like you're going uphill, but really you're going down."
Though Prince isn't sure what story is the right one, something on the hill is just too palpable to ignore.
"Regardless, I think something happened somewhere to make everybody have that eerie feeling."
Prince reminded me to check my bumper for hand prints. Sadly, after an excited jump to the trunk, the flour was intact.
When someone says there is nothing to do in small town Kentucky, they must not be looking hard enough.
Prince said there are many tourist attractions around the area including something called the Bell Witch Cave, the mysterious disappearance of a rich family, and the spirits of old soldiers in what is now Lebanon College.
Although there were no hand prints on my bumper, the hill left a strong impression.