Destination America Ignores, Rewrites History with Helltown

1

Note: This piece originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of The Ghosts Of Ohio Newsletter (subscribe here to start receiving your very own free issues). But as someone who has been wearing the moniker “The Man Who Debunked Hell Town” since the early 2000s, I have been bombarded with questions about the validity of Destination America’s recent program, Helltown. So much so that I felt the article needed to be reposted here. For it is my firm belief that if anyone expects to be taken seriously in the field of paranormal research, they must be willing to openly admit instances of BS when they come floating across our airwaves.

Helltown cover

When I first learned that Destination America was going to be running a 2-hour program on the truth about Hell Town, I immediately began planning to do a review of it for an upcoming newsletter. For the premiere, I even made sure that I had a notepad and laptop within reach so I could take notes, including references and different aspects of the legend that I needed to dig deeper into. I had snacks and beverages and had even turned the cell phone off. This was going to be fantastic: 2 hours of in-depth history on the legend of Hell Town. And then the show started.

For the next two hours, I sat there in stunned silence. Twenty minutes in, it began to dawn on me that the huge review article I had been planning could be boiled down to two simply words:

It’s fake.

That’s the short version, anyway. The full thought would be that Helltown was the most ridiculous piece of garbage that I have ever seen on the Destination America channel. And let’s be honest here: that’s saying a lot! In fact, the idea that Destination America would willingly put out this piece of work speaks volumes as to how low this channel has sunk. Yeah, I get it, they called it Helltown instead of using the more popular two-word title that most have come to know the area as. But this was 2 hours of the most bizarre and outlandish claims I have ever heard, which is again saying a lot. I could take up pages of this newsletter going scene by scene, pointing out the various inaccuracies, but since I found roughly 95% of what I saw to not only be inaccurate, but total fabrications, that would take forever. Plus, I’ll be honest with you: I don’t want to devote any more of my time and effort to this steaming pile than is absolutely necessary. So, let’s just get right at it and rip it apart as quickly as possible.

Let’s start with this: ALL of the people shown in Helltown are actors and actresses. Canadian ones, no less. I’m not going to list their real names because they are just trying to make a living here. But if you want to find their names, just wait until the end of the credits for Helltown and you’ll see them all there, right along with a good 3-4 screens’ worth of disclaimers about the so-called “facts” of the case and one screen, which flies by, that all but admits it’s all made up and that, among other things, actors were used as opposed to “actual persons”:

End Credits

Wait a second. Is this saying that every single person in Helltown is an actor and/or otherwise pretending to be someone they are not? Yes, that’s exactly what it’s saying.

What, you mean this guy, too? The one who was from the area and knew all about the local history, especially all about the reports of human sacrifices and cults in the area?

Paul Wyndham

It even says he’s a Professor of Folklore and Mythology at Cuyahoga Community College, so he has to be real, right? Nope, another Canadian actor. And one who couldn’t even pronounce “Cuyahoga” correctly, which is a little weird since, you know, it’s part of the name of the place where he works and all.

OK, but this guy, Conor Dwyer, has to be real.

Older Conor Dwyer

He’s even shown as a young man in that television special that ran back in the 1980s. He’s sitting with his grandfather on their front porch and the grandfather mentions that he doesn’t want to move his family out of the area because Conor is deaf and would have trouble in a new location.

Dwyers on porchHe’s fake, too. Plus, he’s a great example of how far Destination America was willing to go to mess with its audience. You see, For The Good Of All was indeed a special about the Boston Township area that ran in the 1980s. In Helltown, they make it appear as though they are playing a clip from that 80s special and are interviewing a local resident, who is not named. He talks about not wanting to move, especially because his grandson, Conor, is deaf and there are concerns about how he will be able to function outside of the only home he’s ever known.

The problem is that in For The Good Of All, the comments Helltown attributes (and shows) as belonging to Conor Dwyer’s grandfather were actually said by someone else: a man named Burrell Tonkin. And in the original, Tonkin is not talking about concerns over relocating his grandson, but rather his elderly mother.

I could continue, but let’s leave it with this guy—Terry Greenbaum, the big conspiracy theory guy who ran a website and posted conspiracy videos about Helltown and other locales. He’s the one who teams up with some weird video guy and they go off in search of those hidden tunnels under Helltown.

Terry GreenbaumYeah, he’s a Canadian actor, too. Don’t believe me? Just fast forward to the point where Greenbaum and his buddy are in the tunnels and they get scared—they both totally lose their fake accents and start sounding like a bad SCTV skit. Oh yeah, and none of his websites or videos exist, either.

As I’ve thoroughly documented, beginning as far back as 2001, the legends surrounding the area that would become known as Hell Town sprung up as a result of the US Government declaring eminent domain and pushing residents out in order to create and extend what is now known as Cuyahoga National Park. That’s it. It’s a sad, tragic story, but one that does not involve government conspiracies, satanic cults, slaughterhouses, or secret tunnels. And for God’s sake, please don’t go out there looking for any wendigo, either. I know, I know, it’s incredibly tempting because who wouldn’t want to meet a creature that Helltown depicts as being something straight off the back cover of a King Crimson album (BTW, I feel old just typing those three words):

Wendigo

To sum everything up, Destination America’s Helltown is about as truthful as Animal Planet’s Mermaids: The Body Found. Still, the most appalling thing about the presentation is how gullible Destination America must think their audience is. I’d like to give them credit and say that perhaps they were trying to create a thrilling mockumentary, but I can’t even do that. The acting is horrible, the plotline is incomprehensible, and it appears as though they went the “found footage/home movie” route to cover up the fact that no one on the crew appears capable of successfully framing a single shot. For these reasons, I would suggest you not walk, but run from your TV should this monstrosity appear on the screen. And if someone suggests that you watch it yourself, immediately make a mental note to remove said person from your holiday gift exchange list. For clearly, anyone who suggests Helltown to you is not a friend.

For more information about what really happened in the area known as Hell Town, please visit The Ghosts Of Ohio’s original 2001 article on the history of Hell Town.

 

Advertisements

Lefevre Road Added To Crybaby Bridge Project

0

It is with great fanfare that I present to you the Lefevre Road Crybaby Bridge: Officially, the 20th Crybaby Bridge on the list!

Although, to be honest, Lefevre Road pales in comparison to most of the other bridges on the list. There’s really not much in the way of backstory or first-person accounts to really make this particular legend shine. But hey, it ended up being #20 when I put all the bridges in alphabetical order, so there you go! Anyway, the extreme lack of specifics means that it’s up to you guys to help fill in the details. So if you know anything about this bridge, let me know!

Continue reading

Hyde Road Added To Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project

0

OK, so this particular bridge is fascinating to me. Not so much the story surrounding it because, to be honest, there’s not much to go on. But there’s clearly more to this story than meets the eye…and the universe clearly wants the story told.

You see, as fate would have it, just before I was getting ready to publish the Hyde Road story, a blog reader, Lori Lotts, left a comment on the Ohio Crybaby Bridge Project home page. She asked about an alleged Crybaby Bridge on Jacoby Road, which I didn’t currently have listed. Long story short, through a series of messages between Lori and myself, it would appear that the Jacoby Road bridge was the original location of the Crybaby Bridge story. And when that bridge was demolished, the story migrated a few streets over to the Hyde Road bridge, where the current legend resides.

Continue reading

Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Location #5 Revealed!

0

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 1.23.03 PM

Welcome to location #5 from Ohio’s Historic Haunts: The Lima Adult Learning Center/Literacy Council Building on West Spring Street in Lima, Ohio.

This one stumped most of you, which is one of the things that attracted me to the building in the first place. You see, to be honest, the house doesn’t look like anything that spectacular from the outside. The inside, however, is an entirely different story.

Originally, the house on Spring Street served as the opulent home to two of Lima’s movers and shakers, Clair and Lulu Tolan. Clair was a successful businessman who would eventually become the owner of the Tolan Block of buildings near Spring and Main Streets in downtown Lima. Their home on Spring Street reflected that success and it was often home to elaborate parties.

Gorgeous stained glass along the main staircase

Upon Lulu’s death in the 1950s, the building began to be used as a commercial building and several different businesses would take up residence inside the home. And with each new tenant came new changes to the building’s interior. The last business to call the building home was Fred and Doty Accountants, who stayed until approximately 2005. After that, the building was boarded up and abandoned.

Several years later, the Northwest Ohio Literacy Council took control of the building and began attempting to restore the home to its original glory. After having sat abandoned for a few years, perhaps this restoration is what brought the ghosts back around: They wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Upstairs Hallway at Literacy Council, showing position of multiple sensors we used during our night in the house

It’s hard to say with any certainly who the ghosts are at the house on Spring Street. One thing is for sure, though: They have made their presence known on multiple people on more than a few occasions. Having said that, I’m sure you’re all asking the same question: Did anything happen the night you spent inside the house for Ohio’s Historic Haunts. The short answer is “yes”, something did indeed happen. Several things, in fact. But you’ll just have to wait for the book to come out for more details from me!

Well, that’s not entirely true. I will be in Lima on Saturday, October 3rd for the Lima Lantern Tours. Rumor has it I’ll be giving away all sorts of secrets about what happened inside the house on Spring Street while I was conducting research for my book. So stay tuned!

Chimes that are said to ring on their own, even when there’s no one around them

Can’t wait to find out what happened inside the Literacy Council building? Grab yourself a copy of Ohio’s Historic Haunts right here.

Just want to catch up on all the other locations that I’ve revealed so far? click here!

Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Location #4 Revealed!

0

Well, this one didn’t fool many people: It’s the Haunted Hydro in Fremont, Ohio!

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.00.51 PM

Let me just say that from the get-go, I was fascinated by the Haunted Hydro. Not only because it was unique in that it was a “haunted” haunted house, but also because of the rich history surrounding the building.

You see, the building was originally known as the Hydro Electric Power Plant. Created in 1911, the plant helped provide electricity to nearby Fremont, Ohio, with a little help from the nearby Sandusky River, of course.

That same Sandusky River would overflow its banks in March of 1913, bringing about one of the worst floods the area has ever seen. While there were no reported deaths at the plant that were a result of the flood, there are some who believe there were unreported drownings that led to the building being haunted. Some will also tell you that the hauntings predate the flood and even the building itself. In fact, there are whispers that the very ground the Haunted Hydro sits on is cursed.

Writing on basement beam showing how high the water rose during the flood of 1913

Regardless, step inside the Haunted Hydro and you might find yourselves face-to-face with the ghost of a little girl or any number of shadowy spectres, none of which are actual flesh-and-blood actors dressed up for the haunt. Although, to be fair, many guests and patrons have mistaken the ghosts for actors and actresses in costume. What’s more, one of the ghosts said to haunt the Hydro is believed to be that of a former employee.

I’m not going to tell you everything that happened when I spent the night inside the Haunted Hydro (at least not yet). What I will tell you is that it was a rather daunting task. For starters, the many twists and turns of the Hydro made it very hard to try and run all the cables for the video cameras and studio microphones.

Original placement of IR cameras inside the Haunted Hydro

Then there was the idea that even though I visited the Haunted Hydro off-season, many of the props were still on display. So let’s just say that no matter how many times I tried to make a mental note of where all the “monsters” were lurking inside the building, come the wee hours of the morning, I’d forget. The result was I would round a random corner, shine my flashlight upon a ghoul crouching in the corner, and promptly freak myself out!

Hydro Cemetery

Want to know more about what happened inside the Haunted Hydro? Grab yourself a copy of Ohio’s Historic Haunts right here.

Just want to catch up on all the other locations that I’ve revealed so far? click here!

Ohio’s Historic Haunts: Location #3 Revealed!

0

OK, one last peek before I tell you there this picture was taken:

Page 229

It’s the Loveland Castle!

Those of you not familiar with the Loveland Castle, click here right now because it is one of the most amazing structures you’ll ever set your eyes upon! Go ahead, click away…just come back!

Exterior of Loveland Castle

Not sure what else I can say about Loveland Castle that hasn’t been said already, except the fact that as soon as I started kicking around ideas for Ohio’s Historic Haunts, I knew I wanted Loveland Castle to be part of the book.

Simply put, the idea that one man, Harry Andrews, spent close to 50 years building a multi-storied castle by hand was something that needed to be shared with the world. That’s right; Loveland Castle was essentially created by one man. Oh yeah, and he would pull all the rocks for his castle out of the river himself!

Of course, rumors that the place is haunted didn’t hurt, either. Since he spent decades working on (and living in) the Castle, most just assume Harry Andrews would be one of the ghosts hanging around. And some believe he is. But what I found fascinating was the discovery that Harry himself claimed to have encountered a ghost on numerous occasions inside the Castle. There are also reports of a ghostly woman in white who floats above the portion of the Little Miami River that runs in front of the Castle. You heard me right; she floats above the water!

So did anything happen to me while I was at Loveland Castle during the writing of Ohio’s Historic Haunts? Yes! Here’s the weird part: It happened even before my investigation began. In fact, it was during the initial interviews. Oh yeah, and we got it on audio, too!

What was it? Well, you’ll just have a grab a copy of Ohio’s Historic Haunts to find out! And if you really want the inside scoop, have a look at my Schedule of Appearances because I just might be playing the Loveland Castle audio at some of my presentations!

Closeup of Loveland Castle

———————-

If you need to catch up on all the other locations I’ve revealed so far, click here.

Want to see Loveland Castle for yourself? It’s open to the public, so check our their hours of operation (and other cool stuff) here.

Preorder (or order, depending on when you’re reading this) your copy of Ohio’s Historic Haunts right here.