Dragons hole map2Strange New England has been around for over 15 years hunting down some of the more interesting history, folklore and places in the northeast. Currently we are making the transition from the old webpage to a new blog. Once we get a enough up on the blog we’ll begin posting new stories as we continue to move some of the older ones. This will give us the opportunity to revisit some of the earliest of our great successes and entertaining failures of the past.

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pleasure parties

pleasure parties

While digging through the archives in 2013, I stumbled across a fantastic story in the Dec 3, 1888 edition of the New York Times about a cave in Connecticut known as Sutcliffe Cavern. According to the article it had been discovered four years earlier in North Stonington, Connecticut while digging out the cellar on the Sutcliffe farm. It soon became a popular stop for local pleasure parties.

I had never before heard about this cave before nor do I live far from North Stonington. I thought I found a real treasure, and couldn’t wait to rediscover it.  Anxiously, I read on and the details of this cave soon revealed that it was a treasure, but not the kind I first thought it was. The article claimed that Polly Sutcliffe, Known local as “Aunt Polly”, believed that a pot of gold was hidden in her basement. She had dreamed about the gold for three weeks. When laborers began digging the cellar for her home they soon broke through into the cave. (more…)


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Monk Caves, Pirate Caves, Spouting caves and now Castle Caves. I never really expected that the crew here at Strange New England would be encountering so many caves this summer. Each one seemed to be stumbled upon by accident. Castle Caves was no different. As I was examining an old United States Global Survey (USGS) topographical map of the Sutton MA area, the words ‘Castle Caves’ just jumped out at me. It was only a few miles directly south of Purgatory Chasm. I was surprised I had never noticed it before.

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As you all may recall from history class, in 1773 a group of Boston residence that were upset by the high taxes from the British, tossed the bales of tea into the bay. This  would come to be known as The Boston Tea Party.  If you were fortunate enough, you may have even visited the museum that celebrates this historic event during a school field trip. What you might not be familiar with is the Rhode Island Tea Party.

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Along the northern border of Vermont is a finger lake known as Lake Memphremagog. It’s the second largest lake in the state and is shared by Canada. Though a seemingly tranquil spot, it has been the home of many tales of a strange and frightening beast; a mysterious monster that some say the local Indians warned the settlers to avoid.

The creature in Lake Memphremagog has long been a part of the lore of the Abenakis, the indigenous people who gave the lake its name. When the settlers arrive the Abenakis warned the settlers not to bathe or swim in the lake due to a predatory monster that patrolled the lake and was known to devour unsuspecting humans.

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As residents tromp about their business on the East side of Providence, something evil lurks below. A dark chasm in the bowels of college hill is the home of many frightening tales. A winter home for transients, a frat house for college parties and a church for satanic masses, the abandoned Eastside tunnel serves up a heaping dish of excitement for all those who venture inside.

The tunnel was built in 1908 as a means for easy access to Union Station in downtown Providence. The tunnel is an impressive 22 feet high, 31 feet wide and about a mile long. At its deepest point it is 110 feet below Prospect St. Originally the tunnel contained 2 tracks used by an electric commuter trolley for the first part of the last century. The trolley ran passenger to and from Warren, Bristol, and Fall River. After 1940 the tunnel seems to only have been used by freights of the Providence & Worcester RR. In 1981 they raised the Seekonk Bridge one last time and put an end to its use. Now the tunnel remains as an attraction for the curious and mischievous New Englander.

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In front of university hall at Harvard University stands a bronze statue of John Harvard. Danial Chester French sculpted the statue in 1884.  The statue of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial is one of Mr. French’s better-recognized works.  It had been originally placed on a granite pedestal to the west of Memorial Hall but was moved to its present location forty years later.  Harvard’s Statue had been unveiled for the University’s 250th birthday in 1885. There is an inscription on the statue that reads, “John Harvard, Founder, 1638.”  Though it may come as a surprise, none of it is true. All across campus the students refer to this monument to a great man as “the statue of three lies”. (more…)


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In Colebrook Conn. it is rumored that there exists a cave of mammoth proportion. Colebrook Cave was alleged to have been discovered in the 1800’s, and rediscovered around 1926, only to be lost once again. Some say that this tale was a hoax created by local pranksters. Though the story reads much like the typical legend, as you dig deeper into its history you begin to find evidence to support it.

Connecticut is the home of many caves, large and small, most New Englanders are not aware of. The largest of these are the Twin Lakes Caves in Salisbury. These caves are impressive in size and called the Champions of New England caves. Though previously commercial caves, they are now closed to the public.

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The Connecticut River is the largest river in New England that meanders its way through the hills and forest of Northern New England between Vermont and New Hampshire and discharges itself in Long Island Sound. This leviathan consumes over 11,263 sq miles of the Northeast. Traced by many cities and small towns, it’s an icon of the New England lifestyle. Though seeming beautiful and peaceful by day, within its undulating coils it hides many stories and secret along its path to the devils belt. One a Mysterious is a Glowing Thing that lurks in its waters.

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Stories of lost gold mines have always been popular among prospectors and treasure hunters. It is often believed that an undiscovered motherlode is just waiting for some treasure hunter to find it using modern technology. Lost mines often recall tales like that of Lost Dutchman’s Mine, coded maps and the wild west. New England is the last place anyone would expect find a gold mine. But surprisingly the northeastern states did have a short-lived boom in prospecting and gold mining. So far, over 20 lost and forgotten gold mines have been found in New England (excluding all the places known for placer gold).

With the stratospheric price of gold and popularity of the reality television show, Gold Rush, the interest in gold prospecting in New England has skyrocketed.  Forgotten mines and minor gold rushes in the northeast are a terrific topic to explore. Since there are so many mines and location to discuss, they can’t all fit in one article.  So, over the next year, look for a series of articles, each one spotlighting one of the six New England states, beginning with in Rhode Island. This southern New England state is known for its history, beaches, and food –not gold mines.  Surprisingly the biggest little state still keeps a few secrets in the form of prospects and mines.

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I’m often asked how we uncover these interesting places and history in New England. Often, I will stress the worth of libraries and lots of reading, but forget to mention the immense value of just talking to people. Many of our greatest discoveries come from a conversation with a friendly person we meet in our travels. One of those casual conversations is what led to my discover of Deadman’s Cave.

In fall of 2012, I was once again reminded that chatting with friends and family around you can also pay off. I was told that my father in-law Richard Gallo had a story about a long-forgotten cave in Cranston Rhode Island.  Though I found it hard to believe I could have missed something like this, I was intrigued.

When I met with Richard, I immediately asked where the cave was located. Expecting to hear that it lay on a lonely hill in the western extremes of Cranston, I was surprised by what in his story revealed.

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