Nevada City, CA — Technology moves fast these days, something anyone with a smartphone will tell you. However, for one small Nevada City neighborhood, the Internet revolution has passed them by.
Residents of the usually quiet Piety Hill neighborhood just south of downtown aren’t ones to take to social media to complain. You’ll find them tending to their gardens and minding their own business. There is also another thing you won’t find in the area surrounding Jordan, Gethsemane, and Calvary Streets: a reliable GPS signal.
For old-timers, the GPS reception issue is no surprise, like everything else in Nevada City.
“It’s never been right up there,” said Nevada City fixture Toby “Doob” Carnvale. “My pop told me that when TV got here, his buddy Jimmy bought this color one and they couldn’t get a signal. The same was true with all the neighbors. Dad said it had something to do with the Reverend’s curse.”
The Curse of Reverend Wilford E. Shank
The Reverend’s curse refers to Reverend Wilford E. Shank who first traveled to Nevada City to spread the word of God to local miners during the height of the California gold rush. He arrived in town in the winter of 1856 just after the first of several enormous fires destroyed the town. His odd and strident behavior, along with unkempt appearance, would set the template for future residents of the rough and tumble town.
Life wasn’t easy back then. It was even harder if you were a religious crank like the good Reverend. Mr. Shank found the miners of the era terrible drunks and not open to the word of God. He was often run out of town for various reasons, including the now-infamous Noah’s Ark debacle on Sugarloaf Mountain.
After one violent run-in with a saloon owner, Reverend Shank escaped across Deer Creek and set up a homestead in what is now known as the Bible streets or Piety Hill. He coined his escape from Broad Street ‘The Tribulation Trail,’ a name that still bears that name to this date.
On one night, a group of rather unchristian-like drunken men decided to pay a visit to the Reverend as he read his Bible in his Jordan Street cabin. The men broke into his home, harassed the 42-year-old man of God, and after defecating on his front porch, passed out in his front yard.
The usually forgiving and patient Shank was filled with rage and prayed for God to send a curse to the area; one that would “curse future generations making them wander like the Jews in the desert,” as he wrote in his diary.
Locals: The Curse is Real
If you happen to make your way up Gethsemane Street, trying to make your way to a dinner or ball game at your friend’s house, your GPS will not only not work, as many have reported, but as some have discovered you may end up in an awkward location as recent Nevada Union grad Jamie Wilson discovered last year.
“I was heading over to see my ‘bestie’s boyfriend place, but I wasn’t sure where his house was,” said the 19-year-old Jamie recalling her incident. “You know, like, I was following along with the GPS when suddenly I found myself in someone’s garage. So, I mean, like after crashing through the side of their house.”
And Ms. Wilson’s tale is hardly unusual.
In the past 15 years, twelve unfortunate people from out of town have found themselves dumped into Deer Creek after their GPS directed them off Cross Street, through several backyards, and down the hill into the ice-cold waters. Almost as many have ended up on porches throughout the neighborhood. And one unlucky Vacaville man managed to flip his Mazda Miata upside-down after nearly missing a fire hydrant, only to be startled by what he claimed were “dozens of squirrels” simultaneously crossing the road.
“I don’t even know how I ended up there,” said Andre Rooker, speaking of what is now called “the squirrel happening.” “I was trying to find downtown Nevada City without using the freeways, you know. My GPS told me to take a Left, so I took a left. Next thing I know there’s a fire hydrant, and as I swerved to miss it, all these squirrels appeared in the road. I over-corrected and flipped my car. I was the weirdest thing that ever happened to me.”
WiFi and Cell Signals
The strange GPS signals are indeed a safety issue on Piety Hill. However, other radio signals seem to have trouble. Many residents report difficulty with both cell phone signals and Internet WiFi broadcasts.
The lack of reliable wireless Internet access would be a showstopper for most. However, Nevada City has the highest number of “EMR intolerant” (ElectroMagnetic Radiation) citizens per capita in the United States. These EMR “sufferers” believe, without any evidence, that wireless technologies cause ailments ranging from insomnia, headaches, cancer to chemtrail sensitivity, hallucinations, and addictions to late-night infomercials.
To that end, several EMR intolerants have moved into the neighborhood. Now, many claim that their health issues have improved. However, no one has adjusted to people crashing into their homes at all hours of the day.
“I wasn’t sleeping, and my fillings were rattling,” said Nevada City Community activist Saihra Ramun who doesn’t have any metal teeth fillings. “But ever since moving to Piety Hill, I’m sleeping better, and my cancer is in remission.” Note, Ms. Ramun has not been diagnosed with cancer but is currently treating it with coconut oil and “sacred chants.” “Some people don’t like uninvited visitors. But I do. It gives me a chance to tell them about the scourge of chemtrails, 5G microcells, and how elites are using both to reduce Earth’s population.”
The City Won’t Do Anything
For years Piety Hill residents have petitioned both City Hall and the County Board of Supervisors to take action. In 2014, Nevada County spent over $32,767 on a PG&E study to determine if there was some EMR abnormality. After five weeks, the study found nothing. However, one contractor was seriously injured when a Grass Valley woman crashed her Honda Civic into his work truck.
“I’ve talked to City Hall about this over and over again,” said Cross Street resident Michelle Townsend, a 3rd generation local. “But they tell me, just like they told my mother, and my grandpa before her, that it’s all in our heads. And that there’s nothing they can do about. They told my grandpa to get a taller TV antenna. And they told me to get a range booster and have my iPhone checked. What a bunch of BS.”
For the foreseeable future, Piety Hill residents have posted signs requesting that people avoid using their GPS devices near the neighborhood.