Sometimes it goes by 'Pinewoods' Cemetery, other times it goes by 'One of the Most Haunted Places in the United States.'

Credit: Jess Hudson
Credit: Jess Hudson

This place is so famously haunted, it allegedly landed a spot on Life Magazine's list of the Top 10 Haunted Places in the U.S. Inside, they refer to it as the 'Gateway to Hell.'

The place really is protected by a gate, which is interesting -- everything seems to be very tucked away from the comforts of suburbia. Maybe this is an attribute we want from a cemetery, but it's not something I'm used to seeing.

Forest Park Cemetery was bought in 1897, but had been used as a smaller cemetery for around forty years prior. Coincidentally, the cemetery was meant to provide a park-like experience for visitors. It was intended to be well-kept with beautiful, natural streams, trails, and foliage. Who would have thought a century later this place would be regarded as one of the scariest in America?

Apparently, the old cemetery laid dormant between the years of 1975 and 1990. Contributors tried to salvage the grounds, but they were too far gone. The cemetery is no longer open to the public due to severe neglect (which, lets be honest, takes the creepiness to a whole new level), but was used for burial as recently as 2005.

The cemetery has some infamous fixtures -- a headless angel statue among them. Locals claim to have seen the close-to-God statue bleeding from the neck. Others believe it to be a certain kind of moss growing on the statue, but honestly- how did the planets align to so perfectly use nature to fuel our nightmares? Regardless, that is definitely something I don't need to see.

Another creepy landmark is the mausoleum inside the cemetery. Traditionally, these are used to house bodies above-ground. However, the mausoleums inside Forest Park Cemetery are fully vacant. Where did everyone go? In the mausoleum, people have experienced a heavy uneasiness that almost prevented them from leaving. Someone else experienced a little green, glowing light in the center of the concrete enclosure, exactly where a coffin would have been. The same group of people started to leave the structure, and felt like they were being tugged back in by something.

Plenty of people claim to have seen ghosts up in trees, and heard babies or women screaming. Others claim that the batteries in their flashlights die within minutes of entering the place. Some say they've been chased by entities, or have even heard laughter (arguably creepier than screams?)

Forest Park Cemetery is also known for its urban legends, like that of the 'vanishing girl.' Apparently, once upon a time, a taxi driver picked up a girl who was looking to go home. Once the driver passed Pinewoods, the girl vanished from his car.

Another story tells of a couple who happened upon the cemetery and thought it'd make for a good place to be alone. When their car wouldn't start, the man went outside to investigate. The woman apparently fell asleep in the car, and was woken by the sounds of his feet scraping the top of the car. According to the legend, the man hung himself in a nearby tree.

You might be wondering how a place like this racks up such a reputation. Well, it's possible that it's all man-made.

  • The neglect: This definitely adds to the creepiness of a place. Overgrown foliage and half-hidden graves alone can make a person shudder.
  • The Life Magazine article: In researching for my article, I have found no evidence of the publication having ever existed. Did it get lost in translation, or was it simply never written?
  • The angel: The cuts on this statue are extremely precise and appear to have come from some kind of tool. Again, this doesn't seem to have all of the creepy connotations that we impress upon it.
  • The blood: Apparently, there is a type of moss that turns a reddish color when it's exposed to moisture or even human contact.
  • The mausoleum: In Forest Park Cemetery, it is possible that these structures were used to simply store bodies throughout the winter until the ground was thawed enough to pierce, which would explain the vacancies.
  • Weird feelings: Well, it is a cemetery. We all know our minds can play tricks on us if we perceive things to be scary or strange.

What do you think? Is this place truly haunted, or have we all been duped?

Edit: This photo was taken at Glenwood cemetery in Oneida, New York. It provides an interesting juxtaposition -- Glenwood cemetery did achieve a park-like atmosphere for visitors. It's everything Pinewoods could have been.

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