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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