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Spook Hill Haunts The National Register of Historic Places List

Spook Hill in Lake Wales has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
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Spook Hill in Lake Wales has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Put your car in neutral and watch as you mysteriously cruise uphill at Lake Wales’ gravity-defying roadway, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Placesearlier this month.

Yes-- you read that right. Spook Hill is an optical illusion for drivers. They put their car in neutral, only to see it roll “uphill.” It became a roadside attraction in 1950 and has remained an eerie urban legend ever since.

Jennifer Nanek, Lake Wales city clerk, said the opportunity to be nominated into the National Register of Historic Places list came from a suggestion by an official with the Florida Division of Historic Resources.

“Once he wrote this nomination it had to go before a state review board in early February,” said Nanek. It then had to go through a national board for approval.

“It was awesome,” she said.

Aside from the nationwide attention, the register protects the hill from being developed, so Spook Hill’s landscape should remain intact.

“This means if we do anything with this area, its historic integrity needs to be taken into account before anything is built, constructed or taken away, ” said Nanek.

Nanek said that even though the community doesn’t market or put money into the hill, it continues to receive worldwide attention.

Thrill-seekers are greeted by a large sign that shares the original idea behind the creation of Spook Hill. The legendary story begins with the town's greatest warrior and a gator that fought each other to death.

A white line marks the start of the experience and the gravity-defying illusion begins when you place your car in neutral at the bottom of the hill and somehow roll “upwards.”

Adventurers on the hunt for this unique experience can find it on North Wales Drive near Spook Hill Elementary School.


Rachel Smith is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news intern for spring 2019.