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No. 73: Jan-Feb 1991

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Piney Pitstop Of The Paranormal

Evidently trying to inject some joy into our country's financial capital, the Wall Street Journal recently printed a story on Spook Hill, Lake Wales, Florida. Spook Hill is one of several spots in the U.S. where gravity seems to be defied.

"Sue Robertson motors her maroon Ford Tempo to the white line painted across Fifth Street, shifted into neutral and slowly rolls backward up Spook Hill.

"'Eerie, weird, and definitely strange," she says, finally easing to a stop near the top of the rise.

"Hers is the same amazed reaction expressed by most tourists who discover this piney pitstop of the paranormal, 50 miles south of Orlando. On a typical Saturday, up to 30 cars an hour line up at the top of the hill for their turn to drive down to the white line and drift back up."

Not only cars roll up the hill. Farmers had to stop planting oranges in the area because visitors pulled them off the trees so they could watch them roll uphill. Skateboarders and cyclists also feel the pull of gravity in the wrong direction.

Scientists who deign to investigate sites like Spook Hill usually end up by claiming them to be merely optical illusions.

"If it's an optical illusion at work here, it's an odd one; a reporter applying a carpenter's level at about the hill's halfway point finds a slope up in the direction the cars are rolling. Joggers report they expend more energy running that way too. 'Spook Hill is most definitely a hill,' says Paulette Bond, a geologist at the Florida Department of Natural Resources."

(Johnson, Robert; "Just Who, or What, Makes Cars Roll Up a Slope in Florida?" Wall Street Journal, October 25, 1990. Cr. J. Covey)

From Science Frontiers #73, JAN-FEB 1991. 1991-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987