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Zombie Land - Hillsville PA

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Zombie Land, a region generally identified as being to the north of Hillsville, is steeped in eerie legend and lore and home to various reports of paranormal activity. Some longtime residents, while not saying its haunted, swear there has always been something odd about the area. The former St. Lawrence Catholic Church, on Churchill Road at Route 224, is said to be the starting point for entering Zombie Land. Legend says that if this praying Virgin Mary statue near the church (now a private residence) opens her arms it is then safe to enter Zombie Land. It’s apparently never safe to enter, because her hands are always clasped together. (Aug 2015) Full Size

One story relates that there is glowing gravestone in the cemetery behind the former St. Lawrence Catholic Church. There may be some “truth” to this one as it has been reported that a light at the former church – or from a full moon – apparently reflects off a certain stone in the cemetery. (Mar 2012) Full Size

The original Hilltown Bridge, a short distance north of the St. Lawrence Catholic Church, was lost in the Great Flood on March 1913 and soon replaced with a new span (shown above on right). In the years since it has been reported that if you visited this bridge at night you could see strange and unexplained lights moving about underneath it. (c1915) Full Size

The old Hilltown Bridge was torn down in 2007 and replaced with this modern concrete span. The lands north of this bridge are sometimes called the Killing Fields, as it’s been reported that you can hear distant gunshots and screams late at night. (Aug 2015) Full Size

The small Skyhill Road Bridge, spanning the waters of Coffee Run, was opened in the summer of 1917. Over the years it became a legend that it was haunted by the mysterious “bridge people,” who lived near the structure and if bothered would seek you out. Other versions replace the bridge people with a creepy guy known as the Hook Man. The graffiti-laden bridge was also referred to by many other names, including the Puerto Rican Bridge due to young Latinos being the first to “tag” the bridge with spray paint art. Other names include the Graffiti Bridge, Frankenstein Bridge, Ghost Bridge, and Hookman’s Bridge. (Jul 2013) (Photo courtesy of Anna Marie Zokle Criss) Full Size

The aging Skyhill Road Bridge was torn down and replaced with a new span in 2013. The new structure doesn’t quite have the same spooky appeal. (Apr 2014)

Underneath the new Skyhill Road Bridge. (Apr 2014)

Just to the west of the Skyhill Road Bridge there is another oddity known as the Zombie Torch or Eternal Flame. It is located in the woods just off the main road. (Apr 2016)

Walking back into the woods the Zombie Torch quickly comes into view. (Apr 2016)

The area of Mahoning Township was once home to a relatively small-sized oil and natural gas field that was mainly exploited in the first half of the 20th century. The torch is basically an iron pipe designed to vent fumes from what remains of the underground natural gas field below. It is rumored that if you light the torch the bridge people (or the Hook Man) will be summoned to the scene. Nearby, there was an abandoned home (now demolished) known as the Blood House. Stories say it was once inhabited by a sinister witch who snatched and killed children and then buried them in the surrounding fields. (Apr 2016)

This small railroad bridge across Coffee Run, still utilized by the trains of CSX, is located just north of the Manoning River in an area known as Robinson’s Crossing. On October 8, 2000, three men from Youngstown brought 12-year-old Shannon Leigh Kos to this site where she was raped and then stabbed to death. They attempted to burn her body to cover up their heinous actions. Her remains were found under an adjoining bridge (located just on the other side of this bridge) by a local resident three days later and police soon arrested the three perpetrators. They were all convicted on murder charges and are currently serving lengthy prison sentences. This sad episode helped revive the mysterious stories of Zombie Land. This photo was taken from the adjoining Stavich Bike Trail. (Aug 2015) Full Size


  1. hi,like your story i’m 52 and grew up in Bessemer, my friends and i spent lots of time at zombie land, the witch we call her Mary Black the big thing was to get people to light the torch then drive off and leave them,at night you cant see your hand in front of your face it would scare the shit out of them. The statue Mary not sure if its the original one. About 35 years ago it was vandalized. That’s why there’s a glass case around it.

  2. Great info about the ZL area… You can find Zombie Land t shirts at Pete’s Party Center in Hillsville! Pretty cool to know the history of the land is being told! I have been in this area since 1985 and the stories never get old!

  3. Grew up hearing all kinds of stories..what about the green man…supposed to have been burned bad had a hole in lip guys gave him a cigarette he would just appear out of the woods…whatever the stories are I have lit the gas well pipe!i have also rode horses through those back roads…have had erie feelings…creepy!

  4. my wife is from hillive

  5. I saw the blood house catch on fire after it was torn down around the house is a cemetery and fields I have seen small stones around the house as if they were headstones is this story true I may never know also please mind my bad writing Im 14.

  6. I’ve been to zombieland many times with my friends and have always had a very bad feeling everytime we would enter. I have heard a cannon blast and gunshots while sitting on the skyhill bridge at about midnight along with feelings of sadness and shivering even though i have the heat on. I need info on an abandoned house on Erskin Quarry Rd when you make a right before passing the church. My friends called it the slaughterhouse and we went inside on more than one occasion. The story from them is that a mother went crazy and killed her children and hung them. I cant find info on it and dont know if its true. There is something evil in that house. Its the first house on the left.

  7. I grew up in New Castle, but spent most of my teen years in bessemer and Hillsville. We went to zombie land to light the torch, and the energy down through there was just so weird. Just thinking about it gives me chills. I’ cant say that i want to go back. Thank you for the post.

  8. So cool. My childhood was filled with these stories because of my older siblings. We lived maybe ha half a mile away from the torch. I use to ride my bike there. Recently when I was back in town I had my fiance light the torch. Of course after I then told him the tale of the hook man. Just the nostalgia is creepy but yet comforting.

  9. Great memories in Hillsville when I was in high school. It’s sad they replaced the Skyhill and Puerto Rican bridges though. And the Bloodhouse is gone too. Many awesome nights lighting the gas torch and running back to the car… being chased by locals in pick up trucks… exploring the bloodhouse… is the abandoned trailer park still there? I remember if you went fast enough you could catch some air in your car on Skyhill bridge.

  10. I went there a few times. Drinking 40s out of a bag with other teens at the time. It was the eighties. The green man was real. Ray Robinson he lived in Beaver township died in Brighton. He was disfigured and walked at night to avoid causing a scene. His story morphed him into legend and went pretty far apparently. I guess kids with nothing to do got inventive.


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