There’s something strange afoot in Lake Wales, Florida. Automobiles seem to defy gravity on one notorious side street.
Just down from peninsular Florida’s highest point, the aptly named “Spook Hill” has been thrilling the willing for nigh on 100 years now by making wheeled vehicles seemingly roll up hill. Is it the result of a buried magnetic pole? Or is it the protective ghost of a Native American chief and the gator with whom he fought to the death, both of whom are supposedly buried nearby? Or maybe it’s a Bermuda Triangle-esque portal to another universe?
Actually, it’s an optical illusion that makes cars and such appear to roll up hill. Because the hill on the north end of the street is relatively big and steep, it makes the south end of the street – the approximately 100-yard stretch on which cars appear to roll up hill – look as if it’s on an incline, too. In reality, it’s a slight down hill.
Or is it? Yes, really it is, but it’s still a lot of fun to experience it firsthand, as evidenced by the videos posted here. Rob Quam, executive director of the Lake Wales Care Center, kindly and expertly serves as our guide to this oddity of the natural world.
If you’d like to experience Spook Hill for yourself, head east from either Highway 27 or Scenic Highway 17 on Dr. JA Wilshire Ave (also listed as North Ave.). Just past the Old Scenic Highway, take a left (north) on N. Wales Dr. The sign explaining Spook Hill and the white line that marks your starting point are just a block up the street.
From the vantage point of the sign, it really does look as if the section of road just in front of us comes up hill from the point where the truck is parked.
Rob explains the phenomenon of Spook Hill.
Many of the tourists who visit Spook Hill mistakenly expect their automobile will roll up the steeper incline, seen here in front of our SUV. Rob had made this point earlier to photographer Gary Clark and me so we wouldn’t be disappointed when we actually experienced the "Spook" for ourselves. Imagine, then, my surprise when he, with Gary as his accomplice, made it appear as if the truck rolls up that steeper hill. I’m the chump heard in the background laughing like a hyena.
To learn more about Spook Hill see http://www.lakewaleschamber.com/lakewalestourism.asp.
To learn more about the Lake Wales Care Center, the wonderful organization that Rob Quam helps lead, see http://lakewalescarecenter.org/services.htm.
Note: You may notice Lake Wales is spelled differently on the sign in the opening photo of this post. "Wailes" was the original spelling and was changed, explains Rob, when the name was accidentally misspelled on a sign hung on the town’s original railroad depot.