Unraveling the mystery of the “gravity hill”
Have you ever heard of the mysterious spot in Richford, Vermont, where cars defy gravity and seem to roll uphill? The phenomenon, known as a gravity hill or magnetic hill, has attracted curious visitors for decades. Many locals and visitors alike have reported experiencing this strange occurrence, and some have even shared stories and legends associated with it.
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As a matter of fact, the author of this article recalls that back in the 1970’s, we found a spot along Rte105 (pictured in the photo above) where we actually tried the theory ourselves. As I vaguely recall, one person stayed in the car, placing it in neutral and with no foot on the brakes it moved uphill by itself. Now, that was a very long time ago. A few 17-year olds imbibing in a few cans of Schlitz beer, may have some memories that are a bit shaky but I really do believe we found one of the gravity hill spots.
Let’s explore the mystery of the Richford Vermont legend where cars seem to roll uphill. We will examine the science behind gravity hills, discuss the various explanations for this strange phenomenon, and explore the local folklore associated with the Richford gravity hill.
What is a Gravity Hill?
Before we delve into the specifics of the Richford gravity hill, let’s first define what a gravity hill is. Also known as magnetic hills, mystery hills, or gravity roads, these are natural or man-made slopes that create the optical illusion of objects, such as cars, rolling uphill against gravity.
The Science Behind Gravity Hills
The science behind gravity hills is rooted in visual perception. When driving uphill, the slope of the road creates an illusion that the car is rolling uphill. This is an optical illusion known as a “tilt-induced visual illusion.” Our eyes and brain are used to perceiving the world around us as level, and when presented with an unusual slope, our brains interpret the visual information as indicating that the car is rolling uphill.
Another explanation for gravity hills involves the way the landscape is shaped. In some cases, the surrounding terrain creates an optical illusion that the slope is uphill when it is, in fact, downhill. The combination of these factors creates the illusion of a car rolling uphill.
The Richford Vermont Gravity Hill – Where is it?
East Richford is known as “Richford’s Mystery Spot,” according to Joseph E. Citro and Diane E. Foulds in their 2004 book Curious New England: The Unconventional Traveler’s Guide to Eccentric Destinations,
The Richford gravity hill is one of many gravity hills around the world. Located in northern Vermont, Richford is a small town with a population of just over 2,000. The gravity hill in Richford is supposedly located on a road that connects Route 139 and Berkshire Center Road. The hill is known locally as “The Mystery Hill.” According to Chad Abramovich of Obscure Vermont, if it really exists, it’s an extremely difficult place to find.
Many visitors have reported experiencing the strange phenomenon of their car seemingly rolling uphill on the Mystery Hill. Some have even claimed that their car moved uphill without any input from the driver. The hill had become a popular attraction, drawing visitors from all over the country who come to witness the mysterious phenomenon for themselves.
From Chad Abramovich at Obscure Vermont:
“My research had identified the late Dolph Dewing of Franklin as the first person to report experiencing the mystery spot’s effects in 1978. According to Citro in Curious New England: The Unconventional Traveler’s Guide to Eccentric Destinations, Dewing started by sharing the discovery with his friends, then brought a busload from the Franklin Senior Center to witness the phenomenon.”
“In October 1985, County Courier reporter Nat Worman accompanied Dewing to the spot and watched as he stopped his 1979 Dodge there and revved it to prove it was in neutral. After about 60 seconds passed, the car began rolling uphill, accelerating gradually from 10 to 15 mph.”
Linda Collins of the Richford Historical Society said that back in the 1970’s, a few Richford residents reported seeing strange moving lights over town. Wanting to chronicle the frenzy for the Burlington Free Press, Collins made phone calls, which led her to a government facility in Boulder, Colo. She refers to it as “the strange things facility,” because “I don’t remember what they were called — it’s been so long since I’ve talked about this!”
According to Collins (speaking with Chad), the feds told her that a singular magnetic pull or gravitational force in the Richford area had the potential to “attract things.” They didn’t specify what things, and she surmised there was probably more that they weren’t telling her. “You know, government secrecy? They were probably doing some testing or something and didn’t want that getting out to the public,” Collins said. Later on, Collins learned of the “mystery spot” phenomenon.
Theories on the Richford Phenomenon
There are several theories on what causes the Richford gravity hill. One popular explanation is that it is an optical illusion caused by the surrounding landscape. The surrounding terrain creates an illusion that the slope is uphill when it is actually downhill, creating the illusion that the car is rolling uphill.
Another theory suggests that there may be a magnetic anomaly in the area that is causing the strange phenomenon. The earth’s magnetic field can influence the way objects move, and it is possible that a magnetic anomaly is causing the strange phenomenon on the Richford gravity hill.
However, despite numerous attempts to explain the phenomenon, the exact cause of the Richford gravity hill remains a mystery. Like Joseph E. Citro and Diane E. Foulds, Chad also had no luck finding the mysterious place that at one time, was the talk of the town.
Local Richford, Vermont Legends and Folklore
Like many mysterious places, the Richford gravity hill has its share of legends and folklore. Some locals believe that the area was once the site of a Native American burial ground, and that the strange phenomenon is the result of a curse placed on the land. Others believe that the hill is the site of a former hanging, and that the strange phenomenon is the result of the spirits of the hanged individuals.
Regardless of the legend or folklore, the Richford gravity hill remains a popular (if elusive) attraction and a source of intrigue for visitors to the area. Whether it’s an optical illusion or something more mysterious, the gravity hill continues to defy explanation until or even if someone in this day and time can actually find the location. If you’ve been there, let us know!
The Richford Vermont legend where cars roll uphill is a fascinating and mysterious phenomenon that has been attracting curious visitors to the area for years. While there are numerous theories on what causes the strange phenomenon, the exact cause and now, even the true location, remains a mystery. Whether it’s an optical illusion or something more supernatural, the story of the Richford gravity hill is sure to continue to fascinate and intrigue people for years to come.