By: Joseph Guerra
There’s a road in northern Michigan a couple of miles from Frankfort and Arcadia called Putney Road that has gained quite the reputation for inspiring both fear and awe alike for those who have experienced it. Putney Road is a fairly average northern Michigan road in that it cuts through vast miles of trees with the occasional field or house, but for the most part lies deserted. At the spot from which the road derives its other name, “Gravity Road,” the only building in sight is an old church that is closed most of the week. The road is called Gravity Road for its peculiar effect on the driver: after driving down the road a couple of miles, the driver appears to drive downhill. If the driver parks their car at the bottom of the hill, puts the car into neutral, then something interesting happens. For a couple of seconds, nothing happens, but suddenly the car begins to move back up the hill, almost as if something is pulling it. Your car will roll for a few minutes before it you make it to the top of the hill, although most who have tried it only last a while before they freak out and drive away.
Which brings us to my experience with Gravity Hill. One night, while coming back from a family event, my aunt who lives near Putney Road decided it would be fun to scare her nephews (my brother and I) by showing us Gravity Road. Before we got there, she told us how the road worked and what would happen. She also told us that the reason the driver is pulled back is because the church at the top of the hill is pulling sinners towards the church to be punished. Mind you, I was only 12 at the time, which is the right age to be skeptical and scared shitless at the same time. Suffice to say I was scared of being pulled into Hell when we got there. We stopped at the bottom and stayed still for a few seconds before we started moving backwards. My brother and I sat still for all of ten seconds before we both started freaking out: my brother started cheering and I started screaming. Oh, and this was all at midnight. We got to the top of the hill which was right next to the church, and we pleaded with my aunt to get us out of there. We did, and I’ve never been back since.
Although nothing supernatural happened (the experience of running uphill is apparently attributed to an optical illusion that happens around very low grade hills) This experience got me thinking about “Backseat Driver.” My experience was obviously nothing like the things that Susanna experiences in that story, but the story got me thinking about how much we take the experience for driving granted. Most of us are excited when we get our driver’s license but it quickly fades and driving just becomes something routine, and we forget how dangerous driving can actually be or how scary cars can be. Gravity Hill can be interpreted as a phenomenon similar to the EVP’s we listened to in class: what if people are pulled back on the road because they are being told something? Or what if it actually is a warning from a spirit in the church to repent for your sins? Whatever the case, the road still scares me to this day, and it reminds me that even mundane things in life will always have a degree of danger and mystery to them.
You can read more about Gravity Road by clicking here.