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No. 79: Jan-Feb 1992

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The Ups And Downs Of Spook Hill

The appearance of an article on Spook Hill in the Wall Street Journal of October 25, 1990, induced G. Wilder to have a look for himself. After all, when the conservative Wall Street Journal admits to being "baffled," there must really be something to the phenomenon!

Spook Hill is located on a section of road in Lake Wales, Florida. Here, at Spook Hill, the road "seems" to slope downhill, but yet cars in neutral apparently roll up the incline. Wilder, a member of the Tampa Bay Skeptics, made several pertinent observations during his investigation:

"(1) Although the phenomenon is striking when one approaches Spook Hill from one direction, if one gets out of the car and looks back, it is quickly apparent that one's senses have been deceived. Because the illusion fails when one looks in the opposite direction, the road has been made one-way, so that tourists will not be disappointed!

"(2) A storm drain is positioned at the true low point of the road, and cars seem to roll up to the drain. Water, in its gravitational wisdom, knows where to go! Neither were the city engineers fooled."

Conclusion: Spook Hill is only an amusing illusion; there is no gravitational anomaly. (Wilder, Guss; "Spook Hill: Angular Vision," Skeptical Inquirer, 16:58, 1991.)

From Science Frontiers #79, JAN-FEB 1992. 1992-2000 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