Jean Kennedy of Mobile has been looking for answers about a cross that bears the name of three women who drowned in Hell Hill Pond in 1932.
Those who know about the haunting of Hell Hill Pond avoid driving the lonely Route 10 section during the night.
Just beyond LaManche Provincial Park, a white wooden cross rests on an embankment behind a guardrail. It is well kept with fresh paint and flowers, but not even the family of the victims of that tragic day know who has kept the place so well-groomed.
As the story goes, after being dismissed from summer school in St. John’s, a group of five-or-six young women and men, including Jean Kennedy’s aunt Veronica Daley, travelled to Hell Hill Pond to go swimming.
“They were all holding hands and they got to a drop in the pond,” said Kennedy. “They tried to hold onto each other, but then three of them drowned.”
The fourth person in the front row managed to swim to a shallow area.
Many people were on the scene of the accident on that warm, August afternoon including two police officers, two nuns and a local man named Mike Manning.
Manning was mentioned by reporters at the time and was said to have dived into the water after the ladies.
Kennedy’s family has kept a clipping from an old and unknown publication’s report about the drownings.
“Being a strong swimmer, he succeeded in bringing Miss Norris to the surface and to the shore,” read the article.
Miss Norris was brought her to shore where others tried to revive her. They could not get a pulse.
The bodies of the three young women were laid to rest in their respective hometowns, but people of the Southern Shore still feel the victims remain close to Hell Hill Pond.
The name Hell Hill may sound dreary, but it is a pleasant body of water surrounded by cabins and beautiful forests. Locals say that the name came about when the railroad ran from Trepassey to St. John’s and the hill near the pond was one of the toughest parts of the journey.
It has been 86 years since the accident and the cross still looks brand new. Kennedy has been looking for the caretaker so she can thank them.
“I have gotten lots of calls since I started searching,” said Kennedy. “A lot of people have talked about sightings, but I am not sure how true they are.”
From headdresses hanging in trees to car radios going wonky as they pass by Hell Hill, locals cringe when they recall the tales.
Lesa Dalton remembers a time from when she was 11 years old.
A moose had come up onto the road and her mom had stopped to let it cross. Dalton looked back to watch the moose go back into the woods. The moose had gone, but there was something else that caught her eye.
A man wearing a long black coat was walking towards the back of their vehicle as they drove away. Dalton still gets cold shivers when she thinks about it.
“It was not a moose,” she said.
“I hate driving through there.”
In the same place, Shannon Chidley was heading up the shore on a blustery winter night.
“I was driving by myself and I was looking behind pretty often because LaManche is always spooky,” said Chidley.
The area adjacent to the cross is prone to small whiteouts and as Chidley slowed down, she heard a loud bang.
“It sounded like a big snowball hitting my window,” she said. “I sped up and saw a car coming so I flashed my lights to warn them and the car was the cops.”
“I hate driving through there,” she said.
Holly Kavanagh says that she and her sister Hope have had a couple of things happen to them while they were driving around the area.
One night, Holly was in the car with someone who was driving down in LaManche village. At the turnaround spot when they slowed down, two figures faced their car and watched them. The two figures looked identical and did not move from where they stood.
On another night, Holly says her sister was driving by the Hell Hill Pond sign and there seemed to be nobody around.
“A big aluminum pole thing that looked like a pipe flew out onto the road right in front of her and started moving around,” she said. “It sounds crazy but Hope said it was so scary and I know she wouldn’t lie about it.”
Cabin owners in the area know the scary stories all too well. A common occurrence is one where people stop to pick up hitchhikers that are not actually there.
Amanda Dunn’s family has a cabin in the area.
“It gives me the creeps every time I go to the cabin,” said Dunn.