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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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.

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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Goshen MysteryClay Perry included many things in his books that would only be considered caves by the most generous definition. There were also some entries he referred to as artificial caves. These were man-made stone tunnels and chambers that can be found scattered across New England. Though he had and entire chapter that covered some that he found most interesting, there is one in Goshen, Massachusetts that will only be found in the index as a counterfeiter’s cave.

In late 2015, I had the chance to visit and explore this counterfeiter’s cave with My friends Jim, Michael , Tristen and Zack. I had known of the tunnel for over 25 years and had always wanted to explore it. I found the available descriptions and illustrations to be accurate. The tunnels branching off in two directions did appear odd, but the corbel construction is something I have seen in other colonial tunnels in New England. Their appearance greatly resembles old Roman culverts that can still be found in England. If it weren’t for the hardpan in which they are seated, I might suspect they were to divert or transport water over a property.

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All over New England are stone chambers of all different shapes and sizes. Clay Perry referred to them as artificial caves, and 1dedicated a chapter to some he speculated were created by Irish monks around 1000 AD.

In East Thompson, Connecticut there is one known as the Hermit Cave. It is a corbelled dome chamber built into a low natural mound. It has a small crawl-in opening two feet high and wide with a three-foot-long passage. The passage slopes slightly to an oval chamber 6 feet, 8 inches high and 7 feet, 6 inches wide. The rear of the chamber to the entrance measures 11 feet, 6 inches long. This small chamber is an amazing work of dry masonry.

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Blockness Banner  The Atlantic Ocean is teaming with many unusual and very frightening creatures. For centuries  sailors have spun tale of denizen from the deep that would make even the bravest of anglers shudder in fear. Giant serpents, colossal fish with razor sharp teeth, and behemoths with tentacles that could crush the hull of a ship were believed to lurk beneath the waves.

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Posted in Legends & Folklore, Monsters & Ghoulswith no comments yet.

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Pine GroveI’ve often thought of Connecticut as the Devil’s State. You can find his name attached to more features, places and landmarks than anywhere else in New England. Even Long Island Sound was referred to as the Devil’s Belt.  Because of this, I was not surprised to stumble on the mention of a cave called “The Devil’s Cave,” in Connecticut. I had seen it mentioned in a 1908 article about a spiritualist camp that lies near a cove along the coast. I won’t deny that the cave’s name is what caught my interest.

It wasn’t long before I discovered that this cave has been in many publications in my library. It’s mentioned in a list of lost Connecticut caves as Devil’s Den Caves. Many other authors briefly mentioned it as Indian Cave. The one thing they all seemed to all have in common was the lack of knowledge about its exact location. Some spoke of it as if it were a secret that only locals were aware of.

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Posted in Historical, Legends & Folklore, The Underworldwith 2 comments.

Lacys-5In Cumbria, England, is Eden Valley, a quiet part of the UK with its traditional towns 1and pubs, beautiful hamlets and sandstone villages, some dating back to Viking times. A few miles north of the historic town of Penrith, is a small village called Little Salkeld. On the west side of the village is the Eden River. It was known to the Romans as the Itoun. This name derives from the Celtic word ituna, meaning water, or rushing. It winds its way north toward Carlisle.

The largest house in the village is the manor in Little Salkeld, confirmed by King Edward I. It is said to be the original home of the Salkeld family of landowners and Salkeld Hall built in the 16th century. The village has a vicarage with no church and Little Salkeld Watermill that was built in 1745 and is still operating. Little Salkeld is also known for Long Meg and Her Daughters, a Bronze Age stone circle consisting of 51 stones (of which 27 remain upright). The tallest stone is 3.7 meters high and stands outside the circle. It is made of local red sandstone, carved with a spiral, a cup and ring mark, and concentric circles. Poet William Wordsworth deemed them to be the country’s most notable relics after Stonehenge.

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Posted in Historical, The Underworld, Weird Destinationswith no comments yet.

Counterfeiters Den BannerAlmost a year ago we had found the counterfeiters den that had been lost for close to 100 years. We promised that we would share the full story behind the Den once our research was complete. Though the story is still not complete and there is much more research to be done, we felt we would share how much we have so far. We have withheld names and particular details of the story because we are currently working with members of the local government to protect it. We confirmed that the den is on private property and we are trying to arrange a conservation easement. For now, the den should be considered off limits. Soon we hope to meet with the land owners to begin discussions. We hope to develop a good relationship with them so that the den can be protected and possibly accessible in the future.
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damnation_bannerMVC-009FIn August 2003 I returned trip to Purgatory Chasm. With a diet of 90% fish and lots of exercise, I had trimmed down a few belt sizes. When I last visited the Damnation Cave, I hit a road block. The passage to the lower level was much narrower than I remembered. Now, I was ready to squeeze through that final obstacle and make it to the inner sanctum. This time I planed on mapping the cave. This gave the trip a useful purpose, but finding my way to the lower chamber was my true goal.

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Glacial Park BrochureNew Hampshire has always had a warm place in my heart. My family and I use to vacation in cottages along Lake Winnipesauke every summer. Places like the Polar Caves, Lost River, and The Flume were some of my favorite stops in the Granite State. Little did I realize that hidden within the deep forest and steep mountains there were similar places waiting to be revealed or rediscovered. I was pleasantly surprised when I got a lead on a place called Glacial Park. My friend Super ‘D’ had suggest we head up to Thornton NH for an adventure weekend. His cousin Bryon is the owner and caretaker of Shamrock motel in Thornton NH and also was an avid explorer. Byron enjoyed hiking the NH forest with his kids and knew of several other interesting sites we could visit. Once the seed was planted in Bryon’s ear, he invited my Super ‘D’ and I to stay up at his motel for the weekend. He promised give us a tour of some of the forgotten sites in NH that he felt would make a great addition to the website.

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Posted in Historical, Natural Wonderswith 3 comments.