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Spook Hill

Spook Hill is a long promoted gravity-defying hill in Lake Wales, Florida where you can park your car at the bottom and it will roll up hill. It has been mentioned in all kinds of publications including a story that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. It is such a popular place for curiosity seekers that the City of Lake Wales has put up little brown direction signs all over town so you can find the mysterious hill. However, beware that local pranksters often turn these signs so they point in the opposite direction. As I found out, it only takes one sign being switched to send you off into oblivion. I returned to my starting point several times before I figured out that something was wrong.

By accident I came up on a lone directional sign on the opposite side of town and from that point followed the series of signs until I came to Spook Hill Elementary School and just ahead I saw the hill. Once you get to this point you cannot miss the Spook Hill sign erected by the City that explains the history of the hill. The sign also explains how to experience Spook Hill by parking your car on the white line that’s painted on the street, shifting to neutral and letting her roll up the hill.

I followed the instructions and within a second my car was gliding slowly up hill, or at least that’s what it seemed to be doing. On weekends there can be as many as fifteen to twenty cars at one time waiting to experience the crazy gravity.

There are several folk stories about Spook Hill and how it was discovered. The most popular account has to do with a black gentleman who parked his automobile at the base of the hill to do a little fishing in a nearby lake. He had hardly reached the lake when he turned and saw his car rolling up the hill. Thus began a tale that circulated within the black community for years and eventually found its way into local white folklore. Other accounts say that the hill was a sacred spot used by early Native American for religious ceremonies. One story even claimed that there was a huge magnetic rock buried within the hill which is similar to another tale blaming the weird effects on a magnetic meteorite that hit the earth at this spot and is still buried inside the hill. History speaks about early pioneers noticing that their horses had to labor hard to go down Spook Hill but found it easy going up the hill.

So what does the State Geologist have to say about Spook Hill? I received the following response from the State Geologist, “There are no mysterious forces at work at Spook Hill. It is an illusion and can be verified with a simple carpenter’s level.” So, I took a carpenter’s level to Spook Hill and discovered that what was “up” was really “down.” The lay of the terrain around Spook Hill is responsible for the illusion. If you approach the hill from the opposite direction and survey the surroundings you can clearly see how the illusion works. In conclusion, cars do not roll up hill; they are actually rolling down hill. Knowing the secret really doesn’t spoil the fun because you can still have a good time figuring out the illusion.

Trick of the Land
I know everybody believes Spook Hill is just a trick of the land but what explains the fact that not only do cars roll up hill but also soda cans, oranges, or anything else that is like round? –Sherry Lynn

Is Something Wrong with the Hill?
I don’t think Spook Hill works any more because I parked my car like the sign says to do and nothing happened. Do you know if anything is wrong with it? –anonymous

Weird Feeling
Instead of using your vehicle to check out Spook Hill try walking or running up or down the hill––it’s a weird feeling because when you are going what seems to be downhill it is harder than when you are going up hill. –Randy

Does Time Run Slower at Spook Hill?
You know Spook Hill in Lake Wales where cars roll up the hill. I heard that your watch will run slower on this hill and that you can watch the second hand slow down. They say it is caused by a strong magnetic pull by the hill. Anybody ever experience this? I wonder what a compass would do there. –Kbar

Excerpted from the book Weird Florida by Charlie Carlson.

Weird Florida


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