CursedForest

The Helltown Hearse (Hearse Legends – Part Two of a Three Part Series)

In this week’s installment of our Hearse Legends series, we’re taking a look at an urban legend that comes out of Ohio.  Summit County is in Northeast Ohio, near Akron, and is known for its beautiful parks, music venues and a host of other attractions scattered across the county.  While there are plenty of family friendly attractions throughout Summit County, the northern part of the county is known for an entirely different reason.

Helltown is the unofficial name given to an area made up of a cluster of smaller towns.  The small towns – Boston Township, Boston Village, Sagamore Hills and Northfield Center Township – are commonly referred to as the Boston Mills area.  But for locals – and adventure seekers – it’s also known as Helltown.

The area was originally settled in the early 1800s and quickly became a hub of production for a number of mills that used trees to create building materials and paper.  The mills were such a big part of the community and local economy that when a railroad station was built in the 1880s it was named Boston Mills in reference to the local industry.

By the 1960s, however, a growing number of people were concerned about the destruction of forests throughout the country – including in the Boston Mills area.  In 1974, President Ford signed off on legislation that allowed the National Park Service to purchase land in order to enhance the National Park system.  The legislation also allowed the use of ’eminent domain’ to acquire land and, once it was passed, the government began buying up land – and homes – throughout the Boston Mills area.  As a result, droves of residents were forced to relocate.

As more and more people were forced out and trees became protected, the local economy suffered and, in the end, much of the Boston Mills area was absorbed into the  Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  As the government bought more homes, the houses often sat vacant until they could be demolished.  The area gave every appearance of being a ghost town,particularly to people passing through.  Many people say this is where the legends surrounding Helltown began.

The Legends of Hell Town

There are a number of urban legends and rumors when it comes to Helltown.  Some people claim the town was evacuated not because of the parks, but because of a deadly chemical spill the government wanted to cover up.  Although there is no official record of any such spill, it’s a legend that continues to this day.

Rumors about the local cemetery are also popular.  In one story, people claim to have seen a ghost that sits on a bench in the cemetery.  Visitors say the ghost does not move or interact – just that it sits staring blankly into space.  There are rarely any other details given about the ghost which makes it hard to compare versions.

Another cemetery-based rumor is that the trees in the cemetery move in unnatural ways.  Rumors about the trees persist and people claim the origin could be the restless souls of children in the cemetery or even the involvement of a Satanic cult.

Other local legends include stories of a school bus full of children being slaughtered by a serial killer (though sometimes the story features an escaped mental patient instead) as well as abandoned houses with lights that mysteriously come on and that at least two of the local churches are used as covers for evil cults.

Helltown-Road

The Haunted Hearse

While there are plenty of stories about Helltown, the most famous is about the Haunted Hearse.  The area of Helltown is littered with dead-end streets lined with abandoned homes and plenty of trees and overgrown vines that give the area a decidedly creepy feel, especially at night.

Locals claim that if you drive down certain roads you’ll find yourself being chased by a hearse which appears to have a ghostly looking man at the wheel.  In some stories the hearse appears out of nowhere and in others the car has only one, weak headlight.

Some of the stories have connected this ghostly hearse with the number of fatalities on Standford Road (aka ‘The End of the World’).  Stanford Road has its own grisly reputation – locals and urban myth believers claim the road is cursed and drivers risk having a fatal crash if they choose to drive down the road.  Some claim the road itself is possessed while others say that evil spirits possess the drivers and force them to crash the car purposely.  Even cynics of the legends have to admit that Standford Road, with it’s sharp turns and steep inclines, is the scene of fatal crashes quite often.

As far as the haunted hearse of Helltown goes, however, there are records that show a family did own a hearse at one time in the small town.  They drove it around mostly around Halloween and became a regular feature in the landscape of the town.  Skeptics point out that the road in question is marked by a large “ROAD CLOSED” sign nd that there is even a gate that goes across the road and is locked tight.  The road is surrounded by dense woods on either side, making it impossible for a hearse to even drive down the road.

Then again, none of that would matter if the hearse is a ghostly apparition.

Either way, the legends and urban myths surrounding Helltown have turned it into a cult favorite for local adventure seekers.  It has become a fairly well-known attraction for people throughout Ohio and urban explorers from the surrounding area.  In the end, Helltown’s network or legends and creepy appearance could be what breathes new life into the modern day ghost town.

 

 

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SpookyDisney

The Haunted Mansion Hearse (Hearse Legends – A Three Part Series)

Hearses and funeral cars are probably the most storied vehicles in the history of our culture. Even before the modern-day hearses, the mystique of death and the horse-drawn carriage has always grabbed peoples’ attention. That’s why there are so many legends about hearses and funeral cars in our society. We would like to explore some of those legends of funerals cars in a multi-part blog series.  We hope you will enjoy this and learn something new at the same time.

The Haunted Mansion Hearse

One of the most common legends concerning a hearse takes us to Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride. Before entering the ride, an old-fashioned horse-drawn hearse provides an ominous feeling to those wanting a thrill. According to legend and rumors, this is the same carriage that transported the body of Brigham Young, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. His funeral took place in 1877, making this hearse more than a century old.

It’s a detail passed around Disney fans for years and is often accepted at face value.  After all, there are dozens of stories passed around about Disney history.  The fact that this one involves a hearse has made it especially appealing to generations of visitors.  The blend of Disneyworld whole fun with the macabre is simply too good to pass up.  Although this is one of the most prominent hearse legends, it is not true.

Glen M. Leonard, director of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Museum of Church History and Art, went on the record in an attempt to dispel the myth once and for all.  He confirmed that “historical evidence shows no hearse was used,” before going on to tell the story of Brigham Young’s real funeral transportation.

Brigham Young had set out a specific set of instruction he expected to be carried out long before his death in August of 1877.  When Young passed away, those explicit directions were carried out by his staff.  Among the directions had been the naming of pall bearers taken from his pool of clerks and employees.  These men were selected to carry Young’s body from its death bed to the Tabernacle in preparation for his funeral.  After the funeral, those same pall bearers carried Young’s body to a nearby private cemetery.  Simply put, there were no wheeled vehicles of any kind, horse-drawn or otherwise, used in the funeral of Brigham Young.

Exposing this urban legend doesn’t dispel the mystery around the hearse however.  The lineage of the Haunted Mansion hearse can only be traced back to its purchase by Disney from Dale Rickards, a collector in Malibu.  Earlier records for the hearse had disappeared and the manufacturer’s plate had been removed.  This makes it impossible to trace the hearse’s history any further and, as a result, ripe for speculation.  So while it certainly wasn’t used in the funeral of Brigham Young, that doesn’t mean it’s history is any less intriguing.

 

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https://pixabay.com/en/oldtimers-car-old-car-automotive-770407/

10 Custom Hearses That Could Make Your Last Trip the Best One Yet

Normally when people see a hearse going down the road, they’re just glad they aren’t the one getting that final ride.  But then there are hearses that just might give you some second thoughts.   Okay, so that might be a bit of an overstatement but, if nothing else, these amazing customized hearses prove that your final ride doesn’t have to be the worst.

While most choose traditional hearse options there are many cool customized hearses on the road today.  Often, these hearses aren’t used for traditional funeral services – but they could be.  Today, many of these cars are private vehicles used simply for fun, but with funeral options growing year on year, it may be only a matter of time before we begin to see them as being offered for specialized services.

Da Bears Hearse

For Die-Hard Fans

Chicago Bears Hearse

Motorcycle Hearse

For the Motorcycle Enthusiast

Motorcycle Hearse

The Gothic Hearse

From the Mad Max set

Gothic Hearse

The Drag Racing Hearse

Do you want to race?

Drag Racing Hearse

Bicycle Hearse

Great on Fuel

Bicycle Hearse

Sidecar Hearse

For that final ride into the sunset

Sidecare Hearse

The Hearse Camper

There’s definitely room to lay down!

Hearse Camper

Hot Rod Hearse

When you need to get there fast

Hot Rod Hearse in Purple

Off Road Hearse

Tough Terrain, no problem

Off Road Hearse

Toyota Prius Hearse

Is this for real?

Toyota Prius Hearse

Images via Complex


A Review of Funeral Car Evolution – Part 3

hearsesHere is the conclusion of our three-part series of the various styles and appearance that hearses and funeral cars have had over the last 100 years or so.

The Eureka-Cadillac Three-Way Landau Hearse
If you like the automobile style that was so popular in the 1950s, you would like this type of hearse. It had the rounded edges and unique taillight styles.

Superior-Cadillac Royale Coupe de Fleur
This unique flower car made an appearance during the late 1950s and was a very popular addition for many funeral homes and mortuaries. You could put flowers in the back and there was a latch that allowed you to lift up the back cover so to load the casket. It was easy and classy all in one!

Superior-Cadillac Crown Royale
This is the style many people think of when they think of older hearses. It has the fins on the back with the curtains in the side windows and a sleek black appearance that only a hearse can have.

We hope you learned something or at least enjoyed these last three posts. You can learn more about these classic hearses by keeping up to date on our blogs.  Subscribe today!


1959_Cadillac_hearse

A Review of Funeral Car Evolution – Part 2

funeral limousine dealerIn this series, we are continuing to look at the evolution of funeral cars through the ages.  Here are several more examples of how hearses have changed through the decades.

Buick Limousine Hearses
These funeral cars typically had carved windows and ornate decorations that resembled the horse-drawn carriages of decades past. These models generally had white-walled tires for extra class and a touch of sophistication, too.

The Model A Hearses
Model A funeral cars had elaborate carvings that you simply do not see on today’s hearses. The sides of these cars had carvings that looked like rippled curtains and decorative scrolls to give them a truly unique appearance.

Gothic Hearses
During the 1940s, gothic hearses and funeral cars were becoming fairly popular. The sides of the back of these cars looked like stained glass windows from an elaborate Catholic church. They had a reverent appearance that is hard to find these days.

Carved Flower Cars
Although they are called flower cars, these funeral cars were rare and they were designed to carry caskets rather than flowers. They did not have the typical appearance of a hearse, but they still had ornate panels and the sleek style of funeral cars.

Henny-Packard Flower Car
These flower cars were popular toward the end of the 1940s and included a platform in the back designed to carry flower arrangements. Underneath that platform was also a place where the casket could slide in and out.

In our next installment, we will have a few more brief descriptions of styles for you. Be sure to come back for more!


A Review of Funeral Car Evolution – Part 1

hearse dealersJust like anything that has changed over the years, funeral cars have evolved in the last hundred years or so. They have come a long way since the days when pallbearers would carry the casket from the church to the burial grounds.  In this three part series, we will take a brief look at how funeral cars and hearses have evolved over the years.  Here are a few of the different styles that funeral cars and hearses have experienced throughout history.

Auto Hearses
Once the idea of the automated vehicle caught on, funeral cars began becoming more and more automated, too. However, for many years they still looked like their horse-drawn counterparts complete with lanterns and woodwork on the sides.

 

More Sophistication
As funeral cars evolved, they became more sophisticated. One style had a tray that came out of the side of the hearse because there was not a back door. It was called a side-servicing casket table and it swiveled out of either side and then swiveled back in for more ease of loading and unloading the casket.

 

The Town Car
Some hearses and funeral cars became long and sleek to display even more class. On some, the driver’s area was open and the back part of the vehicle was closed in and covered with curtains to give the casket some privacy. The tires typically had white walls to give it an extra touch of class.

 

Those are just a few styles that funeral cars have evolved through over the years.  We will be adding onto this series in a new installment soon.  Come back for a brief description of more!


BikeSunset

Bikes in a Funeral Procession

BikesIt’s not very often that you see a procession of bicyclists following the funeral cars behind a hearse, but in 2009, a procession like that made headlines and proved that customizing a funeral is a great way to honor a friend.

In Scottsboro, Alabama, a bicyclist was killed while riding his bike on Alabama 35. His name was Carlos Serrano, Sr. and he was part of the Tri-Sport Club, an organization in which members enjoy a number of activities that they enjoy as a group. Serrano was a longtime member of the biking club and he was active in his community and workplace for supporting and promoting physical fitness among employees. He was also very active in raising money for the needy.

While biking down Alabama 35, however, a driver struck him from behind. Guess what the driver was doing at the time: Reaching for his cell phone. He took his eyes off the road and it ended up costing somebody their life.

Following the funeral, several bicyclists from his group followed the hearse from the funeral home to the cemetery. It wasn’t as impressive as seeing a line of motorcyclists, but it was touching to see how much these other members cared for a fellow bicyclist.

This show of solidarity and unity provided a poignant display for the bereaved.   It drives home just how important customizing a funeral – both the service and the procession – can be when people want to make a loved one’s send off as unique and special as the person they are there to celebrate.

 


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Hearses – There’s an App For That!

Remote control iphone app for funeral hearsesImagine, if you will, being in the middle of a funeral service and you pull out your iPhone. You open up the remote control app you have installed and start one of the hearses in your fleet. Then you push a button and the hearse wheels itself around to the front of the building and stops to wait for the pall bearers to carry the casket to the back of the vehicle. Amazing thought, isn’t it?

Well, you can’t do all of that with your iPhone yet, but you can start your hearse and control some of the functions on your vehicles through an app on your smartphone.

The technology is courtesy a company called Delphi. Using Bluetooth technology, the company has created an app that allows you to remote start your vehicles through your key fob. You can also unlock doors and operate several other vehicle functions remotely.

Many experts point to the rapid advancements in autonomous driving field as an example of how quickly technology can advance.  Just a few years ago a self-driving car sounded like something straight out of Star Trek and now we live in an age where a self-driving car was actually pulled over by the police.  So many people think this development with hearses that can be started remote will lead to technology that brings the cars around, giving directors more flexibility.

As a funeral director, you are always trying to make your processes more efficient and elegant. Your iPhone can now participate and make that happen for you and your business.

The next time you speak to your funeral coach dealer, ask about the iPhone remote control app. Ask if they’ve heard of it. This technology is only bound to get better and that’s something to look forward to.

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Tesla Model S Hearse Concept

Eco Friendly Hearses Offer a Greener Goodbye

Have you ever worried about what the planet is going to be like after you die? If so, there are things you can do to contribute your little part to its sustainability.  Consider making eco-friendly hearses and funeral cars a part of your pre-need funeral planning.

Many funeral homes are already turning to greener alternatives for their growing fleet of cars.  But, in the end, change in the professional sector is often driven by consumer demand.  More and more people are asking about funeral options with a smaller carbon footprint and, for many, that means discussing cleaner running cars for their own funeral as well as funerals family and friends plan for someone who has recently passed away.

Several companies have stepped up to help funeral directors modify their fleet or make a smart investment in greener cars.  Of course, when you’re talking about electric cars the first company most people think of
is Tesla.  So it should come as no surprise that Tesla has already unveiled their own fully electric hearse.   Engineers cut the Tesla in half, stretched the wheel base by 30 inches and then repositioned the battery.  The Dutch limo company RemetzCar worked with Vander der Lans & Busscher to put the finishing touches on with a specially designed funeral carriage profile.

The concept car was unveiled at the 2016 Funeral Exhibition in Gorinchem in the Netherlands and has been making headlines ever since.

And it’s been drawing plenty of attention at the 2016 Funeral Exhibition in Gorinchem in the Netherlands this week.  But it’s not the first – or only – greener hearse people can use for their final road trip.

The Hearse & Limo Company out of the Netherlands, for example, has made a name for itself as a premier dealer of hearses and one that has made eco-friendly hearse options a priority.  They now offer  hearses with hybrid technology, options that run on green gas and even fully electric models.

And let’s not overlook the other major player in the world of hybrid cars – Toyota.  When Toyota unveiled the Prius it was a game changer in the auto industry.  Strong interest and sales proved that there was a real and dedicated market for hybrid cars and the Prius became the industry’s flagship model.  Made – and priced – with the wider market in mind, Toyota has become a major player in the world of hybrid cars.  Way back in 2009 they announced their Toyota Prius hearse which boasted an impressive 49 mpg.

A shift for greener, more energy efficient cars has been growing for more than a decade now.  As we adapt the cars we use every day it makes sense that we also design new specialty cars and other forms of transport to be in line with a greener, cleaner and more Earth friendly approach.  After all, there’s something to be said for doing what we can to leave the world a little nicer than we found it.


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Funeral Cars – Are They Above the Law?

Anyone who has been a driver for more than a few years knows what it is like to deal with parking laws.  Stopping outside a shop on a busy street, double parking while you run back into your house to grab something or even just misinterpreting the hourly restrictions on a side street – every driver has a story about an epic parking issue.

We rarely think about hearses or funeral cars with respect to parking laws, but a story out of the UK made headlines when those two worlds came together.  A parking attendant working in Marlborough ticketed a funeral director who had parked his limousine at the street curb to wash it before a funeral.  The curb was painted with double yellow lines, designating it a No Parking zone but, as it was the curb outside his own funeral home, the director didn’t think twice about it.

The parking attendant didn’t think twice either – and issued a ticket on the spot.  The director became so upset about it that he splashed the attendant with water from the hose he was using to wash the car.  The attendant responded by adding assault charges to the paring ticket.

Do you think parking officers should be more lenient on funeral cars and hearses when they are parked somewhere where other cars are not allowed?  Was this a case of simply enforcing the letter of the law or an example of someone abusing their position of power?

The ironic part of the story is that David Hunter, the funeral director in question, asked the city to make the area outside his funeral home a “no parking” zone because other cars were parking there and blocking his hearses from getting in and out of the parking lot. He claims he was only partly parked on the double yellow lines and he said he was not blocking anybody in where he was parked. He went on to say this: “I know the wardens have a job to do but they should use their discretion.”

How do our readers weigh in on this story? Should the funeral director be allowed to park in the “no parking” zone in front of his facility to wash his hearses or did the parking warden do her job correctly? Let us know your thoughts below.