Haunted Stull Cemetery is America's Most Off-Limits Portal to Hell

The Enduring Legend of Kansas’ Haunted Stull Cemetery: Visiting America’s Most Off-Limits Gateway to Hell

America has no shortage of haunted graveyards dotted across the country, but none of them are quite as legendary as Kansas’ Stull Cemetery, an infamous “doorway to hell” with a reputation so big that even the pope himself is said to make his plane fly around it. With legends that involve human sacrifice, occult rituals, and even a yearly visit from the devil himself, Stull has gained an over-the-top reputation that has landed it in countless books, most haunted top ten lists, and even appearances on Supernatural, but is there any truth to the rumors swirling around America’s “most evil” graveyard?

When you’re a long-time paranormal adventurer like me, Stull Cemetery has been on your haunted hot-spot bucket list since it rose to internet prominence in the 90s, but its out-of-the-way location always made a late-night adventure prohibitive. Hidden away in rural Kansas, Stull’s inaccessibility remains one of the biggest reasons that good information (and good photos) of the legendary graveyard are so hard to find. Fortunately, while driving from Ohio to present The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult at the Colorado’s Stanley Hotel, I finally came within an hour of Stull, and wasn’t going to pass up the chance to visit. It was much weirder than I expected – the most evil cemetery in the world, the portal to hell, was actually on fire when I arrived.




For over a century, Stull Cemetery has been linked to countless legends involving witchcraft, satanic cults, and of course, the infamous gateway to hell. According to the legends, Lucifer once used the abandoned (now destroyed) church at the center of the cemetery as his own personal doorway from the netherworld. It was in Stull where he would rouse the spirits who had been buried inside the gates of the most evil cemetery in existence, but he’s only able to pass through the gateway twice a year, at midnight on the Spring Equinox and, of course, on Halloween.

I’m sure you’re probably wondering why, of all places, the devil would choose a small, relatively unknown place like Stull as his connection to the Earthly realm, but the reason dates back to 1850. The most widely-accepted theory behind the origins of Stull’s evil reputation is tied to both a large tree that once stood in the cemetery and an old tombstone inscribed with the word “Wittich”. The tree, it’s said, was the “hanging-tree” for condemned witches, who were put to death by the torch-wielding townspeople. And the grave? None other than the final resting place for the bones of Satan’s child, who the legend says was born deformed and covered in wolf hair.

Stull Cemetery as depicted in CW's SupernaturalStull Cemetery as depicted on the CW’s Supernatural episode “Swan Song”

According to the legends, hundreds of eye-witnesses have claimed that, even though the church had been missing its roof since the 1920s, rain refused to land inside the building. Awe-struck visitors would report that the tiny church would stay bone dry no matter what time of year or weather conditions, and it was because of these supernatural attributes that the town finally gathered to tear the church down. This destruction of the building made the spirits angry, and rumor has it, the hauntings in the graveyard flared up something fierce.

Out of all the larger-than-life legends that surround Stull, the most famous story associated with the cemetery reportedly happened in 1993, when Pope John Paul II was flying to Colorado for a public appearance. According to the legend, the pope declared that the ground in Stull Cemetery was so unholy, that he forced his private plane to re-route his flight around the graveyard because even the air above it was tainted by evil.


IMG_2621 copyParanormal investigator Greg Newkirk stands in the center of Stull, Kansas

All great tales of monsters and mysteries come from some kind of truth, but how many of Stull’s legends are true?  What is it about Stull Cemetery that made it such an infamous piece of American legend? Were there ever really occult rituals performed in the abandoned church? Were witches once hung from the graveyard’s withered old tree? Is the tiny rural cemetery even haunted?

While it’s easy to dismiss the more fantastic tales of satanic elevators to hell and undocumented witch trials in Kansas, discovering whether or not Stull Cemetery is haunted by restless spirits is a lot harder. You might think that such a legendary location would be great fodder for paranormal television, but not a single ghost hunting reality show has ever made its way to Stull Cemetery. No, it’s not the ghosts or Satan keeping them away – it’s the town itself.

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By 1988, the frightening legends of the cemetery had grown to a fever pitch, and on October 31, nearly five-hundred people gathered at the graveyard gates to wait for the devil’s scheduled appearance, causing so much damage that the local Sheriff’s department has posted deputies on the property every Halloween since. The new police presence actually had the opposite effect than was intended: now, Stull wasn’t just legendary – it was part of an occult conspiracy.

To make matters worse, on Halloween of 1999, local reporters made a trip to Stull Cemetery to put the legend to rest once and for all. They were hoping to document Satan’s failure to appear in the graveyard at 12:00am, but were mysteriously turned away by the property owners just half an hour shy of midnight. Since then, it’s been absolutely impossible to obtain permission to actually investigate the property, especially on two particular dates. You know the ones.


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During my visit, I counted at least half a dozen signs warning visitors that trespassers would be prosecuted, even though the front gate was wide open and fresh flowers were propped up against shiny new graves. The warnings were clearly for anyone who’d made a detour to the tiny town of Stull for an after-dark rendevous with the devil.

To be perfectly honest, even if a lucky ghost hunting reality show was able to pull off a miracle and get permission to visit Stull Cemetery, it would probably make a pretty horrible episode of television. The small graveyard sits right on the edge of Stull’s busy highway, across from which a row of tiny houses sit, each one with its own disgruntled local staring disapprovingly from the porch. It’s a far cry from the spooky image painted in books or the desolate location of Supernatural‘s final showdown with Satan.

Despite the fact that Stull doesn’t quite live up to its internet reputation in real life, my own visit to America’s legendary portal to hell was so weird that I had to take pause. Within minutes of entering Stull Cemetery’s gates, I noticed dozens of flames forming small rings in each corner of the graveyard. There were no burn piles, no visitors throwing cigarettes into the grass, and it was a cool spring day – a far cry from a fire hazard. Maybe the devil forgot to close the door on his way back to hell.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 2.43.07 PMMysterious fires rage in all four corners of Stull Cemetery, April 2016 | Via Planet Weird

While there’s hundreds, if not thousands of allegedly cursed, evil, and otherwise damned places all over America, Stull Cemetery will always sit near the top of the pile, if for no other reason than its inaccessibility. While ghost hunters can stake their claim to exorcising demonic spirits from the world’s most famous haunted houses, Stull is immune to their cleansings. Television crews are turned away and skeptics can’t be bothered with driving to the middle of Kansas to debunk an over-the-top legend (much less crawl out of their comfy armchairs), so the Portal to Hell endures.

Stull Cemetery remains steeped in mystery, as it always has been. And that’s just the way I like it.

Have you ever visited the infamous Stull Cemetery? What other haunted hotspots will forever remain shrouded in legends? We want to hear from you! Tweet us @WeirdHQ, drop us a line on Facebook, or start a conversation in the comments below!


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  1. Ty Gowen

    06/06/2016 at 2:49 AM

    Wait, WHAT!?

  2. Shawn Bradbury

    06/06/2016 at 5:47 AM

    How did you manage to get in?

    • Planet Weird

      06/06/2016 at 1:55 PM

      We got lucky, drove fast, and made it quick.

  3. Jenny Aker

    06/06/2016 at 5:54 AM

    I’m going to The Stanley before I die and maybe after too.

  4. Cal Pacino

    06/06/2016 at 2:56 PM

    That shhh cray!!! Because random cemetery fires..

  5. George Waring

    06/06/2016 at 8:43 AM

    So it sounds like its not worth the drive from Ohio just to meet Satan.

  6. Christy Kay

    06/06/2016 at 5:26 PM

    Very strange with the fire and all.

  7. Lacey

    06/06/2016 at 11:00 AM

    Wait, there were fires in all four corners? That is kind of weird, considering there were no burn piles and no warnings about any controlled/prescribed burns (which happen any time of year, but usually there are warnings posted so people don’t get, well, burnt). Also prescribed burns in cemeteries are pretty rare.

    The four corner burn sounds occult-group(ish) to me. Maybe some sort of cleansing? Did you visit near spring equinox? I’m sure one of the locals might know something (maybe it happens every year), though approaching/asking would be difficult (seems like they are hostile to outsiders, probably for a good reason?). As is the case with so many paranormal places, it only takes a few drunk partiers to ruin accessibility for everyone.

    • Sigrid

      08/02/2016 at 9:47 AM

      It definitely sounds like an esoteric group may have lit fires at the four corners of the cemetery, either to begin a ritual aiming to gain contact with entities there and/or, as you suggested, Lacey, to do a cleansing of the cemetery-although for a cleansing to be done, one would assume the group had good reason and evidence that it required cleansing and from the sound of the article it’s unlikely many individuals have been able to work as a group to truly investigate the site. So – and this is conjecture again – when Dana Matthews writes that literally “[w]ithin minutes of entering [the gates of Stull cemetery] she found “dozens of flames forming small rings in each corner of the graveyard”, it is perhaps what was left by some esotericists as part of a ritual in order to contact entities: but why would the fires have been left and not put out once the rite was finished? It could have been started by someone for a ‘joke’ but then there’s the other, rather strange, alternative that calls for the flames to have been generated by some entity, presumably evil if one goes by the stories about the site. Unfortunately, we run into the problem of any credible team and individuals gaining access to carry out a decent investigation and all because the 500 or so people who turned up on Halloween in 1988 caused so much damage that the local Sheriff’s department and local residents turn people and groups away. It’s always a pity when some people misbehave and ruin the site and often access to it for future investigators.

      • lacey

        10/17/2016 at 9:03 AM

        Re: the possibility of a cleansing ritual, I’m wondering if might have been at the hands of locals? Though they are averse to outsiders, it’s not impossible for them to have some sort of involvement with the property. They know the history. They have access. The gates were open and flowers at gravesites were fresh, so it is clear a local (or relative of a local) had recently been there.

        It really is too bad there haven’t been any investigations (or at least none that have been well documented or publicized). I found a few references to Stull in Haunted Cemeteries: Ghosts in Graveyards (on Google Books). An investigator named Kathy M. said her investigation into Stull “ruined her life” while others blamed Stull for illness and divorce. But there’s no actual documentation re: what exactly happened there, what they saw, what evidence they might have captured, what equipment they used, why they blame Stull, etc.

  8. Ken Gordhamer

    06/06/2016 at 3:29 PM

    In 2001 a friend of mine and I decided to visit Stull. We decided that those that visited on Halloween had it all wrong; we went on the night of the Fall Equinox.

    We parked just off the farm road a mile north of the cemetery and navigated our way south, arriving just before midnight. The church was still there at that time, and while we waited for midnight we tested one of the myths about Stull, that bottle would not break in the church. There was plenty of broken glass around that spoke to that one being false, but we tried it anyway. Yep, bottles broke in the church.

    At exactly midnight we took a picture of ourselves standing in the church. Result? A few orbs, which are easily explained by the high humidity, dusty air and our camera flash. We also saw some mists, but like I said it was extremely humid, so most likely it was our breath. Nothing else. The scariest thing that happened to me was that, on the way back to the car, it was so dark that I actually walked into a black cow. Scared the hell out of me!

    All in all it was a good adventure but zero results.

    • Lacey

      06/08/2016 at 7:11 AM

      Maybe the old bottles not breaking belief was formed in a time where bottles were thicker? For instance, the thickness of an old school Coke bottle is much greater than a Corona bottle. And maybe whomever was throwing had a crappy pitching arm. Instead of blaming poor aim and a light throw, the thrower of said bottle blamed Satan. And so a legend was born.

      It would be more believable if they hired an MLB pitcher to throw a Corona bottle at the wall, and it failed to break. At that point they should probably pour cement mixed with holy water over the entire place and wall it off. But since the wall no longer exists and it’s doubtful any pitcher would participate, guess we’ll just never know.

    • Tim Wilkins

      07/09/2016 at 4:38 AM

      Plot twist: the cow is now telling all it’s friends about it’s paranormal experience when the devil ran into i on a dark night.

  9. Jeff

    07/12/2016 at 11:59 AM

    I can assure you guys nothing creepy happens there. I grew up in a town just a few miles away and still live around and frequent the area. It’s just an old out of control urban legend. if you want to waste your time and get harassed by the locals go ahead and visit. Otherwise just believe me as a local to the area and don’t waste your time. If you like paranormal activity and are visiting Kansas you will probably have a much better experience visiting a place like Atchison. The locals are much more welcoming to your activities. They even have a yearly ghost tour wher you can visit a lot of the haunted sites. As far as the fires goi will say in my 30 years of living in Kansas I have never seen a warning sign for grass fires. They just call the disbatcher and light up what needs burned.

  10. Susan

    07/14/2016 at 8:28 PM

    As KCMO residents, we visited a few years ago, with some visiting friends from CA. It was a regular small town cemetery, except for all the no trespassing signs, over abundance of bugs EVERYWHERE, and a generally creepy feeling.. the church was already rubble at this point. We had brought stuff to do rubbings of some of the stones, but opted to not even get out of the car.

  11. Jessica Lawrence

    07/15/2016 at 3:28 PM

    Very interesting! Could there be something burning underneath the ground? not hell of course but something natural?

  12. dean

    08/18/2016 at 11:41 AM

    When I was going to school in Lawrence in the late 70’s we discovered the cemetery in Stull. We got out and walked around and thought it would be an excellent place to bring girls and scare them. There was at least 7 graves that said witch on them and a gallows that still had rope hanging from the ceiling. We implemented our plan and went back with the three of us and three girls crammed into my friends Camaro. We got out and walked around in the cemetery. The girls were holding us tight. When we left there was a road that went north right in front of the cemetery. We decided to take it. It was after midnight. We had gone about a mile and we noticed these bonfires off to the right and about 50 hooded beings around them. My friend stopped the car and we were all staring at them. Within seconds we had 50 hooded beings running at our car. We got out of there and never went back

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