The 13th Floor

Could the Stairway to Hell be in North Dakota?

Although never popularized in an epic Led Zeppelin song, there are those who believe the stairway to hell might be in North Dakota. At its peak Tagus, North Dakota had a population of 140 residents in 1940. By 1970 that number had dwindled down to 14. And by 1976, Tagus was no longer an incorporated town. Tagus became one of North Dakota’s many ghost towns, leaving behind abandoned homes and businesses, as well as one church many believe housed a stairway directly to hell.


According to legend, once the town of Tagus dissolved, the Lutheran Church became a place of worship for Satanists. Many believed the Satanists were mysteriously drawn to worship here because of a powerful energy. Somewhere underneath the floorboards of the church there is a hidden stairway to hell. Although the church was burned down by vandals, the stairwell is still said to be there, covered over by earth. Some say that if you stand on the right spot at the right time you can hear anguished screams of the souls damned to hell. However, Tagus cannot boast having North Dakota’s only access to Hell.

Map of North Dakota State.

In 1996, Weekly World News published an article entitled “Religious Task Force Finds Door to Hell”. Located 3 hours east of Tagus, a mighty task force had been convened to exploit Satan’s “Backdoor to Hell” located in Starkweather, North Dakota. This new stairway was found by a farmer in the early 1990s when he was uprooting a tree in his field. Uprooting the tree, he uncovered a pit filled with bones.

The farmer supposedly brought in experts to continue with the excavation. As they tunneled 100 feet into the earth, they allegedly reached a spiral staircase that seemed to go on forever. According to Weekly World News, the first explorers to descend the staircase made it 300 feet down before realizing that they had entered into another dimension. It soon became clear by the appearance of the stairwell that it had not been used for some time. They deduced that the tunnel may have been forgotten and therefore would be the perfect entry point for their sneak attack. A team was assembled that included exorcists, cave explorers, explosives experts, and former Delta Force commandos. Although the attack was scheduled for a month after the story published, to this date Weekly World News has not published a follow-up story.


North Dakota has no shortage of ghost towns. It’s a land of boom and bust where towns spring up around fortune only to crumble when that fortune has dried up. These ghost towns fuel the imagination. Did everyone just move on or was there something more sinister at work? Are these ghost towns due to North Dakota’s easy access to Hell? Ooh, it makes me wonder. Ooh it really makes me wonder.