Several sinister and infamous places around the world have been named the Devil’s Gate and come with legends of murder, magic, and monsters. Let’s take a brief tour.
This interesting and creepy rock formation in Idaho is also known as Massacre Rocks. The pioneers through this land feared attacks from Natives while passing through this boulder-strewn area. It is now a state park. The location, along the Snake River, was altered by the Bonneville flood catastrophe 14,000 years ago that dumped these rocks here.
The Sweetwater River carved a narrow cleft in the granite about 370 feet deep and 1,500 feet long, ten times wider at the top than at the base. The river cut through the millions of years old sediment and volcanic ash and scoured the remaining rocks as well. Devil’s Gate is one of these erosional features. It was an important landmark for settlers traversing the state. As with the history of place names, it’s difficult to determine which came first, the diabolical name or its reputation. Apparently, this location was the site of several murders in the region. But one particular legend, recorded by Matthew Field of New Orleans who traveled up the river in 1843, tells of a tusked monster who roamed the valley and harassed the Natives. Finally, the locals trapped the beast and shot at it with arrows. The angry beast tore the rock with his tusks and escaped.
The most infamous Devil’s Gate is in Pasadena, California, off the 210 Freeway near La Canada, and comes with an array of tall tales of devilry that took place there. The rapids of the Arroyo Seco here make a beating, laughing sound which, in the Tongva-Gabrieliño traditional narratives, was attributed to the coyote spirit. They may also have thought it was an evil place. Already, it has a bad vibe. One source says that it was named because of the resemblance to the Devil’s Gate in Wyoming. Normally, a dry channel, the natural dam that existed here burst under heavy flow sending a flood downstream. A rocky face remained in the granite that reminded some of the face of Satan himself. Using the human propensity to see faces in everything, you can imagine the profile of a hooked nose, jutting chin, and a forehead slopes up to the horn at the top.
Additional flooding prompted the city to construct a robust dam there.
The Native folklore about the place being a spirit dwelling or communication place may have reinforced interest by modern seekers of magick and mystery. Occultists such as Jack Parsons – a rocket engineer from the nearby NASA Jet Propulsion Lab – and Aleister Crowley, the so-called “Great Beast” himself, thought the place enchanted and one of the portals to Hell. Parsons, a follower of Crowley’s, reportedly performed not only rocket tests here but occult rituals near the dam. Read about their ideas here and listen here. Take a virtual trip here. Rumor has it that they attempted to open the portal to Hell and so a former picnic spot was now forever tainted with Satanic storytelling. Modern paranormal investigators visit the location and attribute any anomalies to spirits. Many also believe that a curse on the place or the remaining “negative energy” plays a role in the disappearances and deaths in the area. Children went missing along the trails. The face remains with a nearby “gate” securing an outfall tunnel around the dam. It remains a very popular haunted spot because of the tales and the demonic face. Sadly, graffiti and garbage litter the area.