Gravity Hill is a common name given to locations where things seem to move uphill and defy gravity. Usually this is a stretch of road where cars will roll uphill or less commonly a place where a river seems to flow uphill. There are a myriad of such spots throughout the planet, though the one I was personally exposed to was near Baltimore, Maryland. My girlfriend included it on a tour of supposedly haunted locales in the area and we never did get it to work quite as advertised.

Most of these phenomenon involve stopping your car on a particular spot of road, putting it in neutral and letting off the brake. Then the car will appear to roll up the hill. The effect can be replicated by letting a tennis ball roll up the hill, or pouring some water uphill if you lack a car.

Usually locals (or tourist trap guides) try to explain this as a gravitational or a magnetic anomaly or perhaps the product of a supernatural haunting. Sadly, this is not the case. Gravity Hills are caused by an optical illusion which causes a downhill grade to appear to slope upwards instead.

How does this work? Generally the place in question is in a hilly area surrounded by trees where the level horizon is obscured. Trees or walls which generally provide vertical clues may be leaning. This can create an illusion [that fools your brain into thinking a down slope is up. Visual cues can override our inner ear sense of balance.

Magnetic anomalies can be disproved by using two plumb lines, one of stone and one of metal. If there were indeed a magnetic anomaly then they would hang at different angles. A careful survey of the area can easily disprove the myth. The survey will reveal that what looks like a hill, is really a downward slope.

These places can be found all over, and a quick search of the Internet revealed quite a few. Check it out if there's one near you as it is a neat trick, even if it is only an illusion.

  • The Mystery Spot, off Branciforte Dr. Santa Cruz, CA, USA. A spot 50m in diameter in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains
  • Mystery Spot, Putney Road, Benzie County, Michigan, USA
  • Gravity Hill, Northwest Baltimore County, USA. along a public road which ran through the Soldier's Delight environmental area
  • Gravity Hill, Mooresville, Southwest Indianapolis, USA. Located off SR 42 on the South side of Mooresville
  • Gravity Road, Ewing Road exit ramp off Route 208, Franklin Lakes, USA
  • Mystery Hill, Blowing Rock, hwy 321, Carolina, USA
  • Confusion Hill, Idelwild Park, Ligonier, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Gravity Hill, off of State Route 96 just south of New Paris, Bedford County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Gravity Hill (near White's Hill) , just South of Rennick Road, on County Truck U, South of Shullsburg, in LaFayette County, Wisconsin, USA
  • Oregon Vortex, near Gold-Hill, Grants Pass, Oregon, USA
  • Spook Hill, North Wales Drive, North Avenue, Lake Wales, Florida, USA
  • Spook Hill, Gapland Road just outside Burkittsville, Gapland (Frederick County), Maryland, USA
  • Spook Hill, Route 26, Walkersville, Maryland, USA
  • Magnetic Hill, Near Neepawa in Manitoba, Canada
  • Magnetic Mountain, just off the Trans Canada highway, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
  • Gravity Hill, on McKee Rd. just before Ledgeview Golf Course in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada
  • Electric Brae, on the A719, Near Croy Bay, South of Ayr, Ayeshire, Scotland
  • Anti-Gravity Hill, Straws Lane Road, Wood-End, Near hanging rock, Victoria, Australia
  • Morgan Lewis Hill, St Andrew, Barbados
  • Hill South of Rome, in Colli Albani, near Frascati, Italy
  • Malveira da Serra, on N247 coast road West of Lisbon, Portugal
  • Mount Penteli, on a road to Mount Penteli, Athens, Greece
  • Mount Halla, on the 1.100 highway a few miles south of the airport, near Mount Halla, on the island of Cheju Do, South Korea

And here's some specific directions to Gravity Hill in Bedford County, PA:

"How to get there ...
We'll assume that you'll be able to find Route 30 on any Pennsylvania or Bedford County Map. FYI, we can send you a Bedford County Map if you call (800)765-3331. From route 30, drive to the town of Schellsburg which is about 8 miles west of Bedford. In Schellsburg, turn north onto Route 96 at the one-and-only traffic light (towards the town of New Paris). Drive about 4 miles on Rt. 96. Before you come to the town of New Paris, you'll come upon a small metal bridge. The sides of the bridge are metal ... the road surface is paved. Turn left just before this bridge onto Bethel Hollow Road or S.R 4016. Drive for 6/10th of a mile and bear left at the "Y" in the road. (Stay on the "main" road). After another 1 1/2 mile, you'll come to an intersection that has a stop sign (for on-coming traffic only). Bear right onto this road and drive 2 tenths of a mile and look for the letters "GH" spray painted on the road. Go past the first "GH" about .1 mile and stop before you get to the second spray painted "GH". This is it. You have arrived.

Unmarked Gravity Hill
There is a second, unmarked Gravity Hill, just .3 mile past the second, spray painted, "GH". Look for the telephone pole with the number "69". Stop beside this pole and defy gravity once again. When you and your loved ones have been sufficiently awestruck, you can head for a small turn around area just .1 mile further (it'll be on your left). You should return, back the way you came, to route 96. Turn right (south) onto Rt. 96 and drive 3-4 miles to the town of Schellsburg. You are once again back at Rt. 30. Bedford is to your left (east)."

Directions to The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, California courtesy of The Mystery Spot website:

From the corner of Ocean and Water in Santa Cruz, go 2 blocks to Market. Turn left on Market and go about 2 1/2 miles. Signs will direct you. For a map, see the website at http://www.mysteryspot.com.

If you know of any others then feel free to /msg me and I'll add them to the list.


References used for this writeup:
Physics FAQ - I know a place where things seem to roll uphill. How does it work? - http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/roll-uphill.html
The Enigma Project - http://umbc7.umbc.edu/~frizzell/tep.html
Mystery Spots - http://www.roadsideamerica.com/set/SCIspots.html
Gravity Hill - http://www.bedfordcounty.net/Gravityhill/
Mystery Spot - http://www.illusionworks.com/html/mystery_spot.html


Thanks to ifeeldizzy for the true name of The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz. If you know of any other inaccuracies in the list, please let me know so I can correct it.

The Earth does not have uniform density, therefore the force of gravity from the Earth's mass is not quite the same in all directions. (you may have read this before somewhere)

There is an area over the Andes Mountains where gravity is somewhat weaker. This is referred to as "gravity hill". Satellites over this region require constant attention, as they will drift out of orbit easily.

-it's a fact!


thanks to Fruan, who suspects something may have been smuggled through his airport and inspired me to node science facts today.

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