Weird NJ: Gates of Hell

Practically falling out of the car, I took in a breath of fresh air. Being squished in the backseat of Ruth’s 2008 Nisan Sentra with three other people was not the most comfortable car ride. My heart was pounding as I straightened my clothes and looked around me. We were parked in the very back of a PathMark parking lot. Even though it was nine at night we were trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. We were certain that what we were about to do wasn’t legal, especially after we saw the barbed wire fence that surrounded the premises of where we were about to go. We even had to ask some delinquent looking teenagers down the street exactly how to get to this place or we would’ve never found it. Walking behind the PathMark, we followed the train tracks to the other end of the parking lot before we realized we had to walk on the train tracks in order to reach our destination. The whole walk on the train tracks was nerve-wracking. I kept looking over my shoulder, expecting to see someone following us, but no one was there. Finding the path that led down the slope was hard in the dark, and we walked right past it the first time. The second time we found it almost instantly. Turning on the flashlight, we began to look for any signs of how far we would have to go into the woods. We knew it couldn’t be too far because we could hear running water not too far off. The only problem was the way down was very steep. After gazing down the slope for several minutes everyone took a vote on whether we would be heading down or back to the car. Some people in the group felt that the hill was a little too dangerous to try going down, so we decided to head back. Walking back to the car my heart began to slow down, and I could finally breathe regularly again. Even though I was glad to be heading back to the car and back to Kean, I was also slightly disappointed. I didn’t exactly want to travel down the hill but I did think it would be very exciting to actually stand next to the Gates of Hell.

Weird NJ is a magazine that collects stories on weird places located throughout New Jersey. One spot, located in Clifton, NJ, is called the Gates of Hell. Located behind an old distillery, the Gates of Hell is a large square sewer that leads to several different tunnels. The myth of the Gates of Hell is that cult members would gather there and sacrifice animals. It is believed that going down certain tunnels will lead to rooms with alters, axes too heavy to lift, a glowing skull, and, if one goes down far enough, the devil himself. There’s also the story of Red Eyed Mike, who is said to be the spirit guardian of the Gates of Hell. One can hear his horn from deep within the tunnels if you knock three times on the tracks above the tunnel, and he is known to throw rocks out from the opening of the tunnel. Even though I did not get to experience any of this, the whole place around that area gave me the creeps. I feel if I went back in the daytime it would be easier to make it all the way down because it would be less creepy, even if it would be more dangerous.

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