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.

Devil’s Gate, Gate of Death or Massacre rocks. By Decumanus, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4039854

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.

Devil’s Gate, Wyoming. By Ryan Reeder, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4466742

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.

This appears to be an early picture of the face at the gate when water flowed past the dam. PD-US, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5100054

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.

Modern view of the Devil’s Gate and face.

3 thoughts on “Devil’s Gate

  1. Ah, yes; Jack Parsons. One WEIRD Dude. Of whom Creepy Crowley himself said “I thought I had a most morbid imagination, as good as any man’s… But it appears I have not.”

    And his Sorcerer’s Apprentice at the time, one L Ron Hubbard (who would go on to become famous in his own right). Any dramatization of Parsons & Hubbard’s antics of the time would make one wild and crazy movie.

  2. The book ‘A Piece of Blue Sky,’ Jon Atack’s indictment of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, discusses Parsons at some length. Hubbard became obsessed with the satanic occult as a teenager in high school (!), devoured everything by Crowley he could get and later sought out Parsons, who was famous in satanist circles. During WW-2 the two of them shared a house together somewhere around Pasadena where they made sustained efforts to conjure the embodiment of Satan. Atack’s book makes you wonder if they succeeded. It was about ten years later, after failing as a sci-fi author, that Hubbard cobbled together his bizarre religion.
    Such a strong association with lunatics like Crowley, Parsons and Hubbard makes this place no fooling evil as hell. The Charles Manson admirers who hang out here whacked on meth are absolutely right about that.

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