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Enjoy Magazine

Gravity House and Confusion Hill in Leggett

09/27/2015 10:06PM ● By Jordan Venema

Mass Confusion

October 2015
By Jordan Venema

Is seeing really believing? That’s the question Doug Campbell puts to visitors of the Gravity House at Confusion Hill in Leggett. “We want people to see everything there is to see up here,” says Campbell, who bought Confusion Hill with his brother in 1999. And when Campbell says everything, he isn’t just talking about the redwoods; he’s referring to the weird, oft inexplicable undercurrent of reality.

Like the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz and the Oregon Vortex, Confusion Hill (about 90 miles south of Eureka) is one of the few places in the world where the Laws of Nature appear to bend and break. Water appears to flow uphill and people seem to “stand” on
 walls. Does gravity work differently at Confusion Hill? Is there really some kind of Vortex that swallows magnetic energy? Is it physics or an optical illusion?

As far as Campbell is concerned, “we know nothing… It’s up to everyone to come up to their own conclusion.” That’s why their logo is a question mark – “because we can’t answer that for you.”

Campbell may not give answers, but he says plenty of people have their own ideas. “We actually had a group come by, the National Institute of Vortex Investigators or something, and they gave us a little plaque saying we were a true anomaly. They said it; I didn’t, but that’s ok.” Campbell, who grew up in San Jose, has been visiting the coastal redwoods since he was a child. So when he calls Confusion Hill the Mystery of the Redwoods, it’s with the authority of experience.

Campbell has also seen his fair share of adventure: for 10 years, he and his brother, Don, worked on a factory trawler called The Ice Storm on the Bering Sea. After that, Campbell worked as a cattle rancher between Oregon and San Andreas, putting plenty of miles in on Highway 101.

During those travels along 101, Campbell stopped at small businesses, met the locals, shared stories and eventually heard a strange one about Confusion Hill. “Toward the end of my fishing career, I was looking for something else and one of the things that came to mind was the redwoods, something that my brother Don, my wife Carol and I could manage… And it just so happened,” says Campbell, that one day, “Confusion Hill was for sale.”

However it works, whatever its reality, Confusion Hill had long been a staple of the redwoods, even 50 years before the Campbell brothers bought its 13 acres. In 1949, original owner George Hudson had been looking for a spot similar to the Oregon Vortex and Santa Cruz Mystery Spot. He found Confusion Hill, where he built the Gravity House on its hillside.

“There’s about 18 different places across the country that have the same shack on the side of the hill,” says Campbell. “But we don’t try to explain why it was built on the side of the hill. It just was.” By comparison, Campbell says the Oregon Vortex house claims to have been a mining assay that “slipped down the hill.”

The “shack” on Confusion Hill is a small, wooden house that begs the value of perception, where a metal rod disrupts magnetic waves, and a platform causes people to seem to shrink at one end and grow larger at the other.

And if standing on walls isn’t your thing, there’s always also a 30-minute train ride on a 20-gauge track that runs through old growth redwoods. “We use an alpine switchback system to get to the hilltop,” says Campbell, “forwards and backwards to gain elevation.”

The train ride might be a nice alternative to the physical strain of the Gravity house, but even the train has its oddities. On Confusion Hill’s website, Campbell suggests the train might still be maintained by his brother Don, who died in 2002.

“Times I have found tools out by the train just like someone was working on it in the dead of night. The weirdest is that we have also heard the train whistle blow in the middle of the night! Nothing like this went on when my brother was alive so I figure that he’s still out there checking on the train for us. He took loving care of the train and truly enjoyed giving folks a ride in it,” writes Campbell. “I believe he just decided that this was where he wanted to stay and he was naturally just ornery enough that he did!”

Whether the phenomena of Confusion Hill are illusion or supernatural is irrelevant, suggests Campbell, since “it’s set up to make you deal with gravity… A lot of these things truly are making the individual feel gravity.” That is, you’re having a genuine experience of physical laws in different ways.

So whether you’re a skeptic, a scientist or a believer in supernatural oddities, there are questions to be asked at Confusion Hill. But however you explain the phenomena, there’s no denying the experience. And really, however a person chooses to interpret Confusion Hill, there is one thing that is pretty obvious to Campbell. “If you came here to have fun, you will,” he says. “If not, well, you won’t.”

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