WCPO originally published this story in 2014 and has brought it back as part of our special coverage of local legends leading up to Halloween. For more real-life stories of the "paranormal," go to wcpo.com/haunted.
BLUE ASH, Ohio – There’s a portal to hell in Blue Ash.
That is, if you listen to paranormal investigators, teenagers and folks who like to get spooked.
“It’s one of the best known, but least seen, urban legends around here,” CreepyCincinnati.com blogger Rick Fenbers said. “A group of Satanists supposedly used to meet there in some type of altar room and conduct their rituals… They must have been pretty good, because the legend claims they managed to open a doorway to hell.”
But what Fenbers and others call “Satan’s Hollow,” neighbors and cops call a nightmare.
This "doorway to hell" tucked in the woods behind an apartment complex is actually a storm drain – and it’s on private property.
“It’s rough on the homeowners,” Blue Ash Police Lt. Steve Schueler said. “People park in their driveway and try to get into the drainage system and nobody likes that. (The owner) has had to chase off some people, for sure.”
WCPO is not disclosing the location.
The folklore of “Satan’s Hollow” may sound farfetched, but it has spread through the region for more than a decade. The spot is even listed in several “most haunted” lists online.
Many claim screams are heard coming from inside the tunnel at night. Others report floating faces and unexplainable apparitions, Fenbers said.
Blue Ash police and city officials said those are just rumors causing teens and adults to break the law.
Schueler said officers are called to the property about twice a year to remove trespassers. No one has been charged or ticketed. The trespassers are mostly teens, he said.
But it’s also a hot spot for paranormal groups.
Filmmaker David Scott has visited the site and posted video of his “ghost hunting” expedition on YouTube. And unlike Blue Ash police, Scott claims ghosts really lurk there.
“This is one of the scariest locations I have ever investigated,” he said.
To prove it, he used a tool paranormal investigators call a “spirit box” – a radio modified to scan frequencies on a loop.
Scott and other ghost enthusiasts claim spirits can stop the skips in frequency to allow certain words from radio broadcasts to come through clearly.
Watch Scott’s results in the video below (Warning: There is some profanity.)
Schueler said he’s seen many of the videos about “Satan’s Hollow” online. He’s even spotted arrows drawn inside the tunnel directing trespassers to an area in the back.
Inside are graffiti-covered walls and painted signs that read, “This way to God’s Chamber,” “Badlands” and “666.”
Walking through the drainage tunnels can be an eerie experience, Schueler said.
“I think it's just a pretty extensive system,” he said. “There's one area at the end that's a concrete box where the pipe changes elevation… When you're down there, your imagination plays tricks on you. You can start to hear and see things.”
Detailed maps of “Satan’s Hollow” have been posted online alongside stories of a demon called “The Shadow Man” that waits inside.
“He is some kind of hall monitor from hell, left here by Satan to guard these tunnels,” Fenders claimed. “The Shadow Man is said to appear in the form of a human, only completely blacked out. Hence his name.”
Many websites claim Satan worshipers have killed animals and people in a portion of the drainage system nicknamed “the altar room.”
This is another completely fabricated rumor, Schueler said.
“We've never had human sacrifice or any animal killings,” he said. “We've never had any of that.”
That doesn’t mean the area isn’t without its real dangers.
Schueler said rain causes water to flood the tunnels; if someone were inside during a storm, they could easily drown.
But there’s no way to block it from trespassers without damaging property, he said.
“There's a lot of debris, and a lot of junk flushing through there. There's no way to secure it,” Schueler said. “Putting bars up on the entrance would just cause it to hold water and then that water would back up into people's yards and streets.”
He said this Blue Ash legend is exactly that: A legend that will keep officers sending any unwelcome visitors away.
“We've talked to some kids and warned them,” Schueler said. “We were all teens at one time and did crazy stuff. We try to give them a warning and get them on their way.”