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Seven Gates of Hell and Toad Road, Part III: A history mystery of mythical proportions

The movie ‘Toad Road’ just recently made it back into the news because it’s now available on DVD.  That news might not have shaken the world, but York countians noticed after that bit of news was posted on YDR’s Facebook page. (See below.) That’s news in York County, Pa., because the film draws from a mythical place in a rural area of eastern York County associated with the Seven Gates of Hell, an urban legend oversized for even that species of tall tales. But even urban legends contribute to what makes York County, York County. Also: Seven Gates of Hell, Part I and Seven Gates of Hell, Part II.

York County has many links, some stronger than others, to Hollywood.

Just this week, Movie/TV star Cameron Mitchell, who grew up in Shrewsbury and is best-known today for his role as Uncle Buck in “High Chaparral,” was feted in a presentation in Glen Rock. And Oscar-nominated “All is Lost” will be screened at York College on Feb. 6, with Central York grad Neal Dodson introducing the film.

Like Dodson, several York countians have been associated with the big screen. Laurice Elehwany was a writer on the film “My Girl,” based, in part, on her childhood home of Jefferson. Academy Award-winner costume designer Ann Roth is from Hanover.

Several Hollywood movies have been filmed here. “Girl Interrupted” was set, in part, in Hanover and “For Richer or Poorer” in Muddy Creek Forks.

And York County’s famed Hex Murder of 1928 inspired the movie “Apprentice to Kill,” starring Donald Sutherland.

That Hex Murder movie approximates York County’s recent brush with Hollywood. That Hex movie, based on the murder of a suspected witch in southern York County, comes from a real event.

“Toad Road,” a 2012 independently released thriller film, is based on an urban legend drawn from another remote part of the county. But it’s a real movie. Maybe not a real good movie, according to some critics.

A New York Times review of “Toad Road” says that the film will disappoint as an everyday horror movie. “But if you’re looking for an uncomfortably authentic drama about the horrors of dedicated drug use, then this strange little number from Jason Banker (who also wrote the screenplay and wielded the camera) might just do the trick.”

So, if this film in any way discourages or horrifies against drug abuse, maybe this unreal York County story of a road that leads to hell has some real purpose.

‘Toad Road’ summary:

Wikipedia: “As she becomes more and more addicted to drugs, Sara becomes obsessed with the idea of Toad Road, a road in York, Pennsylvania, possessing seven gates that are rumored to lead directly to Hell. She persuades James to join her in an excursion to Toad Road, where the two take acid and eventually become separated. James ends up passing out and upon waking, finds that six months have passed since he and Sara went to Toad Road. She has been reported as missing and he is considered to be a person of interest in her disappearance.”

Seven Gates summary:

Check out the Wikipedia entry for various versions of the Seven Gates of Hell urban legend.


The mythic Seven Gates of Hell are said to be in, of course, Hellam Township. The location attached to this myth is in private hands, and landowners have warned against trespassers.

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