The Stairway to Hell

The following article is presented for entertainment puproses. It is not intended as scholarly research or as a final authority on the subject.


Welcome to Freaky Friday. Our topic today is paranormal. We’ll be discussing urban legends associated with Stull, Kansas–which is said to be a gateway to hell.

Let me start by admitting I’ve never been to Stull or any other place in Kansas. I stumbled upon this topic through a link Rhonda Hopkins sent me.

I got so interested in the urban legends surrounding Stull, Kansas that I had to write about it. (And because I had wasted too much time reading about Stull to create another blog topic.)

The Legend

Urban legends claim that Stull, Kansas is one of two—or six or seven, depending on who is telling the tale—portals to hell.

Stull had me at hello.

A Brief History of Stull

Stull is an unincorporated township is Douglas County, Kansas. It is 10 miles west of Lawrence and 13 miles east of Topeka.

The area was originally called Deer Creek Community. It was settled by people of German ancestry, predominately the Pennsylvania Dutch.

The urban legends about Stull revolve around the Evangelical Emmanuel Church and the Stull Cemetery.  Let’s discuss those two places.

The Evangelical Emmanuel Church

The Evangelical Emmanuel Church was organized in 1859, but it wasn’t until 1867 that they built the church. The church was constructed of limestone and was really neat looking.

By 1922, the church sat unused. In the years between 1922 and 2002, the church became a haven for legend trippers.  Rumors exist that it was used by witches and satantists to conduct rituals, but that’s pretty run of the mill.  The remains of the church were razed in March of 2002.

Let’s talk about some of the legends associated with the church. After that, we’ll move further into the cemetery.

[Note: If you’re interested in seeing pictures of the church, please peruse my sources. It is worth the click.]

The Invisible Roof

Though the church had no roof, legend has it that no rain would fall inside the church.

The Unbreakable Bottle

This legend claims it was impossible break a bottle on the walls of the church.

A popular test for this claim was to throw a beer bottle against the walls of the church. According to many legend trippers, the bottle would not break no matter how hard it was thrown.

Another version of this legend told legend trippers to hold the bottles in the shape of an inverted cross in order for them not to break.  I’m not really sure how this would play out in terms of real action, but we’re talking legends here.

Stull Cemetery

There are two main legends associated with the cemetery.  One has to do with a hard to find staircase.  The other has to do with a gravestone.

The Stairway to Hell

Somewhere near the church is a stairway descending into the ground. Legends claim the stairway is behind and to the right of the church ruins.

The stairway is hard to find because it has some sort of covering over it on which grass has been allowed to grow.

This stairway is supposed to lead to a portal to Hell.

Let’s break talk about the legends associated with the stairway.

Tales from the Stairway to Hell

These accounts are from legend trippers, so keep that in mind as you read.

  • A bottle dropped down these steps never hit bottom.
  • Visitors who descend the stairs are unable to reach the bottom no matter how long they walk. Those who had stopwatches say they descended stairs for ridiculous amounts of time, like two hours.
  • Visitors entered an alternate universe where it seemed they were alone on the stairs, even though other people claimed to have been climbing the staircase at the same time.
  • Visitors complain about losing time both on the stairway to hell and in the cemetery.  They say they stayed what seemed like half an hour but emerged and learned hours had passed.

Note: I am aware this could also be caused by finding a patch of magic mushrooms, but these are fascinating stories.

How the Devil Uses the Stairs

On Halloween and the Spring Equinox, Old Scratch (AKA the devil) ascends the stairs.  Once on the earthly realm, he visits the grave of a witch with whom he had a child.

In some versions of this story, the progeny of the Satan and the witch is a werewolf.  While the the devil visits the witch, the child’s werewolf apparition martializes in the woods.

The Tombstone and the Tree

Remember where I mentioned the devil having a child with a witch?  This is a continuation of that legend.

In Stull Cemetery was a tombstone that had been split by a tree growing through it.

In some versions of the legend, the witch was hung from that tree.  Other legends claim the tree was regularly used for hanging witches.

Stull Cemetery and Batteries

Visitors are advised to bring plenty of batteries.  Something about the atmosphere in Stull Cemetery drains batteries.

The Truth

In all my research, I was able to find three things that sounded true:

  1. The people who have relatives buried at the cemetery are tired of legend trippers vandalizing their relatives’ graves.
  2. The Douglas County Sheriff’s office is very serious about prosecuting trespassers. The fine for people found trespassing is a maximum of $1000.
  3. The final confrontation of the CW’s Supernatural Season 5 Finale took place in a set designed to look like Stull Cemetery.

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Comments on this article are closed. I am focusing full time on my fiction writing career and no longer have time to discuss (via comments or email) the content of these articles. Please enjoy this article for what it is—free (albeit imperfect) information. For further information on this topic, please peruse my sources below.



Pictures of the Church

Weird US: Stull, Kansas—Gateway to Hell 

“Building’s Demolition a Mystery” Myndi Paget

“Hell Hath No Fury” by Richard Gintowt

Stull, Kansas Wiki

Interesting Yahoo Answers conversation about Stull

Strange USA: Stull, Kansas

Supernatural Thursdays: Inside the Mythology of Stull Cemetery 

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