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Palm Latitudes

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May 12, 1991|Mark Ehrmen | Edited by Mary McNamara

Every town has one. L.A.'s is right next to a graveyard. Could the spirits of those buried at Sholom Memorial Park in Kagel Canyon be responsible for the mysterious event that occurs on a certain stretch of Kagel Canyon Road, which the locals call Gravity Hill?

Stop your car at the bottom of the dip outside the cemetery entrance (steer the car so that the cemetery is on your right) and shift into neutral. When you release the brake, your car will roll eerily uphill. A case of gravity annulment? Ghostly forces?

"Optical illusion," declares Art Huffman, Ph.D., a physicist at UCLA who came to the site equipped with a level, his 3-year-old son's push toy and a scientist's skepticism. "The road is definitely sloped downward." The illusion of going upward, which Huffman rates as a pretty good one, stems from the change in the grade of the hill coupled with the fact that the horizon, which would help viewers determine up from down, is obscured by the surrounding mountains.

Another Gravity Hill is located at the end of Toland Road off Highway 126, just west of Fillmore.

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