Many famous staircases have a story behind them. The Spanish Steps in Rome, the Loretto Staircase in Santa Fe, and the steps that lead to nowhere in the Winchester Mansion are just a few. While these iconic structures may be legendary, another category of strange staircases has also created a recent buzz across the Internet. Numerous people have been coming forward with reports of isolated stairs in the woods and national parks. This phenomenon has also brought out some of the creepiest stories about otherworldly experiences when someone climbed a mysterious staircase that was sitting alone in the forest.
Some of these weird stairs in forests stand miles from the closest settlement without any logical reason for them to be there. They can differ wildly in style, age, condition, and design. Often, there is no clue as to why they are there, and their isolation only deepens the mystery. With some of the structures, it’s as if someone built the steps and then simply left.
Mysterious Stairs in the Forests of the World
Surely, some of these staircases in the middle of nowhere may have been part of a town or building that has long since crumbled to the ground. However, some of them seem new – almost like someone had put them there yesterday. The very first stories that surfaced on Reddit opened the floodgates for more and more people to come forward with their own accounts of random stairs in the woods and parks.
What seems to have begun as a Creepypasta phenomenon became a string of stories recounted from both rangers and the public mostly from the Eastern U.S. However, soon, stories poured in from other nations including Portugal, Norway, and the Philippines. As it turns out, mysterious staircases in the forest are not uncommon and many of them have been around for centuries or millennia.
Etruscan Pyramid of Bomarzo
Historically, there are numerous ancient structures with staircases that appear to have been important for various people. In Viterbo, Italy, the Etruscan Pyramid of Bomarzo is a large stone megalith with stairs that lead to a small platform at the top. Scholars believe the structure dates to the seventh century BCE or before. No one knows what really took place on these steps, however, Etruscans did perform sky-based divinations and sacrifices of animals and people. Could this have been a divination tower or altar?
Mount Phnom Kulen
In the Cambodian Siem Reap province, a puzzling 2000 foot-long abandoned staircase ascends the Phnom Kulen mountain. Known as Pleu Cere, experts believe the structure dates to sometime between the ninth and 13th century. However, experts aren’t sure who built it or why. Perhaps it served as a pathway to reach the ancient (now buried by the jungle) city of Mahendraparvata. Additionally, quarries did exist on Phnom Kulen mountain for the construction of Angkor’s temples. Did King Suryavarman II build the staircase for workers to acquire building supplies for Angkor Wat in the 12th century?
Madam Sherri’s Stairs
In Chesterfield, New Hampshire, a set of stairs in the woods has earned a legendary reputation. Although not a true mystery, the staircase rouses curiosity. Well, there is a story behind it. During the 1920s, a Parisian music hall singer, Madame Antoinette Sherri, built her “castle” in the woods of Chesterfield to serve as a summer retreat. Although it didn’t boast dimensions of a true castle, it was a rustic French chateau with a stunning stone staircase, complete with Roman arches, that led to the second floor.
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Madame Sherri held lavish parties, and rumors have it that scandalous things went on there. She may have even supplemented her income by operating as a real madame in business with many beautiful ladies. However, when the madame fell into poverty, she abandoned her chateau. In 1962, the castle burned down, and, today, only the stairs and part of the foundation remain.
Urban Legends of Stairs in the Woods
The following are four intriguing urban legends that have posted to the Internet within the last few years.
The Staircase of Missing Time – Philippines
One of the earliest of all reports actually originated from the Philippines. Torkik is an experienced ranger and is often tasked with searching for missing people in the local jungles. This is something that occurs on a regular basis because the jungles and forests in the area tend to be dense and difficult to safely navigate. It was during one of these routine patrols that Torkik claimed that he found two staircases that led deep into the forest. Out of curiosity and to get a higher vantage point of the forest ahead of him, Torkik decided to climb the stairs.
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The first staircase was a stone structure with decorative carvings on it. The second staircase looked more like something someone had put together with natural stones in the immediate area. Torkik did not see any sign of missing backpackers, but he did see a stray dog that appeared vicious. He hastened forward further up the stairs to avoid the dog.
Unsuccessful, he finally returned to civilization. Torkik was met with the news that was both unfortunate and baffling all at the same time. When he arrived at the Ranger Station, he learned that he had been fired from his job. From his perspective, he had been out for a number of hours, but the truth – as told to him – was astonishing. Torkik had been out on patrol for five years!
The Vanishing Staircase – 1940s
Another great story came from a man who claims to work with the CDC as an infectious disease specialist. He said that in the 40s after the Roswell crash, reports of animal mutilations surfaced. The CDC was called in to assist in the investigation which was supposed to last only one or two weeks but, in fact, lasted six months. During that time, various people working in the field reported weird stairs that were giving off some type of frequency. They stationed their campsite about 30 meters away from the stairs and spent the night, but when they woke up, the stairs had moved. On the ground where the staircase had been was a dark black spot that appeared burnt. He continued with his story:
“Next 2 days, it [the staircase] re-appeared but 50 meters away. They decided to do some readings and tried to sample part of the staircase but the wood structure staircase was harder than steel. None of it could be chipped off for sampling.”
Although the investigators determined that the stairs emitted a frequency, they couldn’t figure out why or who was receiving it. Six days later, the stairs vanished.
Ghostly Staircase in Sweden
Another tale about a staircase in the woods involves two Swedish students who were out hiking. Axel and Isak had been traveling for miles and, presumably, hours when they came across a staircase in a clearing miles away from anywhere. They were both puzzled, but they couldn’t agree about what to do. Axel wanted nothing at all to do with the stairs, while Isak was much more daring. He wanted to climb them and did so.
The instant he reached the top, both youths heard a bloodcurdling shrill scream that was sufficient to make them flee the scene. Eventually, they stopped running and recovered their breath. That was when someone put a hand on Axel’s shoulder. Assuming it to be Isak, he glanced backward. Isak stood behind him at a considerable distance – much too far to be within arm’s reach of him. Whoever, or whatever, was responsible for the touch, Axel recalled that it felt cold.
The Ranger’s Creepy Stairs in the Forest
Another account of abandoned stairs in the forest and national parks surfaced on Reddit. This report referenced a park ranger who was training another young rookie ranger in the intimate aspects of the job. The ranger told the rookie about his own experience when he and another man found a lone staircase in the woods. They thought it was weird. Nonetheless, the man climbed to the top and held out his hand to grab the branch of a tree. At that moment something cut his hand off. Whatever caused this was a mystery, nonetheless, the clean-cut wound made him bleed profusely. Oddly, no one could find the hand.
A different ranger reported about a time when he saw a woman head up some similar stairs. She complained that something was wrong with her before she collapsed and died. Later, authorities determined that she had suffered a fatal aneurysm.
Don’t Go Near?
Although the stories above are presumably intriguing legends, many people really have seen random stairs in forests. While we might expect these types of stairs to lead to shrines or temples or to serve as steps up a steep part of a hiking trail, the steps that lead to nowhere are the strangest of all. The ranger, searchandrescuewoods, who shared his story on Reddit had this to say:
“I asked about it the first time I saw some [mysterious stairs in the woods], and the other officer just told me not to worry about it, that it was normal. Everyone I asked said the same thing. I wanted to go check them out, but I was told, very emphatically, that I should never go near any of them. I just sort of ignore them now when I run into them because it happens so frequently.