Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Disappearing American Myths

Since I haven't posted nearly as much Forteana on this blog as I originally intended (and since I'm trying to get into the habit of posting every day, even if it's just a link to a good story), check out Ken Summers' "Ohio's Helltown: Legends, Lies, and Lost Truths" over at the Who Forted? page.  Although the title suggests a basic info article about Helltown, and it does provide that, it's also kind of a meditation on the disappearance of spooky places:
Although Helltown and its stories are still such popular parts of the mythos that is Ohio paranormal lore, the blossoming Cuyahoga Valley National Park has nearly erased all trace of the original 1970s atmosphere. Journeys similar my own high school experience are no longer a possibility; abandoned structures and quiet, desolate roads have been replaced by park-owned restored buildings and the constant traffic of hikers and cyclists. Yet while many of us lament the vanishing of the iconically-spooky (and abundantly fictional) Helltown, there are still many long-forgotten mysteries, weird tales, and unexplained happenings hiding behind freshly-painted doors and picturesque barns to allow for an evolution from urban legend to historically-creepy haunting ground.
While summers talks a lot about the disappearance and change of the physical aspects of the place, I suspect part of the reason that these kinds of haunted places of (not-so-)urban legend is a matter of culture. They've always been spread by teenagers with cars and nothing to do. Since teenagers today have access to lots of boredom-preventing technology (and aren't as enamored with cars as American teenagers of past generations), the need to relieve boredom by driving down some remote backroad to investigate a story about some spook or weirdness just isn't there. They don't know what they're missing.
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