In my travels around the interweb a few days ago, I somehow stumbled upon the concept of Gravity Hills and went off on a tangent researching them. I do that every so often -- start by following a link in a blog or an email and click on another link, then another, then another until before you know it I've gone from look at this cute picture of a kitten to a video of kittens in outer space who are eating the brains of Martians to stay alive. The internet always knows how to make a topic more interesting.

If you haven't heard of a gravity hill before, it is a place where if you drive to the bottom of the hill, stop, put your car in neutral and take your foot off the brake, you will roll, unaided by any combustion engine whatsoever,
uphill. No kidding.

I'd heard of them in the past but I was surprised to learn that there are thirty three of these places in the United States and one of them is actually within a hundred miles of my house. Who knew? So on Valentines' Day we loaded up the car and headed out to Burkittsville, Maryland, home of The Blair Witch, and went in search of Spook Hill. It took us a little while to find it... it's not marked in any way and we actually drove over and past it several times before we figured out how to understand the directions I'd pulled off the web. But eventually, we identified Spook Hill and experienced the phenomenon for ourselves.

I've seen explanations for these sites run the paranormal gamut of thinking and they tend to have names like "Haunted Hill", "Mystery Hill," "Magnetic Hill", or "Anti-gravity Hill."

In 1862, Union troops forced Burkittsville residents to flee as the Battle of Crampton's Gap commenced which led to the Battle of Antietam. Burkittsville homes were used by the Union Sixth Army Corps for hospitals and shelter.
Not surprisingly, since Burkittsville is a small, sleepy, historic village located between two Civil War battlefields, the story behind this gravity hill involves the Civil War and it's metaphysical staying power. Local legend says that ghosts of dead Union soldiers are still pushing cannons up the mountain and, since your car is in their way, and I guess since they can't ask nicely for you to move, they just push you too.

Here's our gravity hill experience, recorded for all posterity.

Please to ignore the sorry state of my car, the gloves that have been sitting unused on my dash for months (I have like three pair in the car right now), the (as my Grandmother used to say) "shird bit" on the windshield, and the napkin-wrapped pancakes from our breakfast at IHOP that morning that we saved for The Caterpillar to eat in the car. I suppose I could have cleaned all that stuff off before making a video to share with the Interweb, but this isn't a George Lucas production or anything. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

And in case you're clamoring for more and can't live without a second shot at living vicariously through us, here's one more crack at it:

In case you're the type who can't stand for anyone to let a tiny bit of mystery lie unfettered, I also found this website, so here's the skeptics' explanation:
Fortunately, one of the Enigma Project's local associates, Mike Gilbert, was a surveyor by profession and we wasted little time in getting him to assess the anomaly. Mike examined the road with a transit and carefully marked it off, making notes all the while. When finished he presented us with a drawing of his survey, the results of which were quite surprising. The road's slight "rise" was, in fact, a "fall." Yes, contrary to what the eye perceived, Gravity Hill was actually a decline. Summarily, we learned that it was not a place where Nature's laws go awry, but rather, a unique location for an optical illusion. Evidently, the lay of the land, the sway of the trees, and so forth set the stage for an unusual, though not mysterious, error in visual perception.
Sure it makes more sense but way to take all the mystery out of it, killjoys.

P.S. Any guesses as to the origin of the title of this post, my dweeby,
science-fiction friends? Scott?