The rapids from the airtram. Photo by Gregory Melle, (flickr)
Hell’s Gate is a narrowing in the Fraser River, in British Columbia. The Fraser is a very large river, and by the time it reaches Hell’s Gate, a few hundred kilometers from its mouth, there is a lot of water flowing through the river, 200 million gallons per minute at high water. With all of this water flowing through the river, the Fraser Canyon narrows so that the river is only 110 feet, (35 meters), wide, creating an incredible whitewater attraction that is nearly impassable by water.
It was first discovered by Simon Fraser who wrote in his journal “surely this is the gate of hell” hence the name Hell’s Gate. Today you can ride an airtram out over Hell’s Gate and see the power of the water for yourself.
Photo by Patricia Drury
Hell is not only a biblical place, it is also an unincorporated town in Michigan.
There are a couple of stories about how Hell, MI, came to be named hell, the first is that some German travellers got out of their wagon and said
So schön hell!, which means “So Beautifully Bright” and the name stuck. The second is that after Michigan became a state George Reeves, the founder of Hell, was asked what he thought the town should be named, and his answer was “I don’t care, you can name it Hell for all I care.”
Although the mailing address of hell is actually Pinckney, MI, (three miles away), there is a post office in the back of the general store where you can send stuff from Hell each year from May through September.
There are some other towns called Hell in the world. One was Hell, California, but it only had one family of residents and now there is a highway where it used to be. Another is Hell, Norway, and while the name is interesting in English, in Norwegian the name stems from the word for “overhang” or “cliff cave” and can also mean “luck.”