Los Angeles Times
Destruction ( but no deaths) at brink of Hell
A flash flood collapses a bridge and swallows a pickup near the town thus named.
HELL., Calif.— It isn’t the pit of hell. But it’s a pit near Hell.
The town of Hell. Population: Basically zero.
Heavy rainfall caused a hole to open up Sunday afternoon, washing out a bridge and closing Interstate10.
The closest large population to the collapse is in Blythe, about 50 miles away. Butit’s only about nine miles east of Hell, a virtually nonexistent town best known for its name. A flash flood roared through a normally arid wash under the bridge, washing it away and swallowing a pickup truck.
The man in the truck was stranded in the pit for 45 minutes while waters roiled below, California Highway Patrol spokesman Mike Radford said as he stood in the once again dry wash Monday morning.
Luckily, the driver, Bryon Castor, was rescued with no major injuries.
Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit said the closest structure to the collapse is an abandoned gas station used to shoot postapocalyptic films.
The bridge collapsed when a creek in Desert Center between Coachella, Calif., and Arizona’s border was overwhelmed by an unusual July storm. The road buckled, cutting off for weeks, if not months, one of the state’s vital truck shipping corridors.
On Monday, Caltrans began inspecting other bridges in the area and found a second one susceptible to collapsing.
The freeway closure is likely to create a traffic hell for motorists.
So it seemed appropriate that thiswould happen near a place called Hell.
It’s easy to miss Hell, Calif. There are no “Welcome to Hell” signs, no shops selling “I visited Hell and all Igot was this lousy T- shirt” souvenirs, no obvious buildings amid the sprawling desert landscape.
“There’s nothing there,” said Patty Evans, 29, a store clerk at McGoo’s Mini Mart in Desert Center. “It used to be a town, but it’s been abandoned.”
Basically, Hell is forsaken.
It’s about 13 miles from Eagle Mountain Road, not far from where the bridge came down.
Since the bridge collapsed, Evans said, she hasn’t seen many customers. But Evans said authorities have reopened nearby California177, and she hopes traffic will pick up.
In 1955, after a particularly hot spell in Southern California, Los Angeles Times columnist Art Ryon noted that L. A. hit temperatures of 110, while the town of Hell saw temperatures o f105.
“It was hotter than Hell in Los Angeles,” he wrote 60 years ago.
It wasn’t that hot Monday. But it was very muggy around Hell, Evans said.