By Loribeth Reynolds
It’s pitch black in the Sand Hills State Park on 56th street in Hutchinson. Two lovers sit comfortably in the front seat of a car, gazing into each other eyes, parked in lovers lane.
For a moment it seems that nothing else in the world exists except for them.
Soon they hear the ear-piercing sound of metal scraping against metal.
The driver’s side door is pried open. The monstrous outline of a man stands, seven feet tall, dark as a shadow, hook for a hand, and wreaking of rancid grease, too close for comfort.
As the two lovers try to get away they catch a glimpse of his face, horribly disfigured, resembling that of ground-up hamburger meat.
Both lovers would soon meet their horrific fate as they are kidnapped and chopped up into hamburger meat themselves.
This is the legend of Hamburger Hill, the tale that has survived several generations in the Hutchinson area, dating as far back as the 50’s.
In 2014, a web site: mysteriousheartland.com, ranked Hamburger Hill as the fourth most haunted place in Kansas.
The site goes on to describe the infamous Hamburger Man.
“It is said that he kidnaps his victims and drags them to his ramshackle shack deep within Sand Hills State Park. His weapon of choice is either a large curved knife or hook. He then grinds his victims up into hamburger meat.”
In the book titled, Haunted Kansas, author Lisa Hefner Heitz interviewed several Hutchinsonian residents to get to the bottom of the tale.
They described the area around the Sand Hills State Park as not heavily populated, making it a popular place for teenaged lovers to hang out after dark.
Heitz writes about how a true story that could have possibly started the rumors about the Hamburger Man.
“An older informant remembered an incident that happened in the 40’s, involving a house fire killing all of the members of a family in town.
“One member of the family, a son, survived, but was badly burned and scarred. He remained in town for a while, but later moved up north,” Heitz writes.
Perhaps the horrific scarring on a badly burned face is what resulted in the Hamburger Man’s appearance.
However, there is some debate and speculation about how the man’s face came to be disfigured.
An article that appeared in the a 2011 issue of The Wichita Eagle reported there are a number of different details to the tale.
“The disfigurement may have come from a house fire, a war injury or a car accident.
“No one knows for sure. What is known is that he has an attitude.”
One thing is for sure: If you find yourself hiking the trails or parking with your lover late at night in the Sand Hills, test the air.
Take in a big whiff, and if you smell grease, run!