In August 2015, a Reddit user, who claimed to be a forest search and rescue officer in the United States, posted a few stories about some weird experiences he claimed he had during his job. Of many instances he shared, some appeared horror while some were unexplained, but one was mysterious in a different way altogether. He claimed that whenever he went deep into a forest, he would spot mysterious staircases that lead nowhere. There were no signs of ruins around them and the stairs appeared to exist in isolation. While the post received a lot of responses, many people confirmed what the original poster was claiming.
They too had witnessed mysterious staircases in the woods, according to their claims. Some shared a few pictures as well, claiming that they took the pictures themselves on their phone. With more than 14 thousand upvotes and over a thousand comments, the stories went viral and became immensely popular across many internet circles. Soon, the stories were published as an eight-part Creepypasta — a term for user-generated scary stories on the internet — book titled Search and Rescue Woods by the original poster Kerry Hammond. The stories made it to an anthology television series Channel Zero: Butcher’s block.
However, the wild theories did not stop circulating as more and more people from other parts of the world also kept claiming that they had witnessed the mysterious staircases. But what are those legends and how much do we know about them?
In the middle of the woods, there is a clearing and an abandoned stone staircase. The arches on the walls are Roman-styled. The stairs are known as Madame Sherri’s castle ruins and are believed to be a part of the castle of Madame Sherri, an eccentric resident of the area who lived between 1878 and 1965. The staircase is actually the foundation of her destroyed residence.
In a forest in Italy, a ruined structure that dates back to some 9000 years ago has a staircase that leads to a small platform that ends right there. The structure is ruins of the Knossos Palace and is believed to be a political centre of the Minoan Civilisation. There are speculations that the small platform that the staircase led to probably something like a ritual tower.
While these staircases appear to have a historical connection, there are pure legends too. In one of the most popular stories from the Philippines, a forest ranger Torkick went deep into the woods looking for missing people when he came across an out-of-place stone staircase. The staircase had strange markings on them. To get a closer look, he climbed one of the stairs when a stray dog started barking on him. Scared, he climbed further. A few hours later, when he went back to his villages, he realised he arrived five years later than he left. Was that staircase a time-travelling portal? That is just a story. Other legends involve sightings of such out of place staircases that also disappear overnight.
Whatever the truth behind the legends may be, they are indeed fascinating stories to get lost in and let your imagination run wild.