Over 10 years ago, when we had just begun to delve into the stranger side of New England , a unique site that was top on our list was called the Upton Chamber. We stumbled across it in a book I had purchased from a used book store in Providence, R.I..
Upton chamber is one of the largest underground stone chambers in New England . A six foot high fourteen foot long tunnel leads into the mammoth chamber. The chamber is twelve feet in diameter and twelve feet high and beehive in shape, like a large stone igloo. Upton chamber is an amazing work of dry masonry with a cap stone weighing several tons. Archeologists believe it is just a colonial root cellar built in the 1700’s but there are those that recognized it similarity to early Irish and Iberic stone chambers and believe it was constructed over a thousand years earlier. Most archeologists feel this is fanciful thinking since there has been no evidence of Pre-colonial foreign visitors other than the Norse at Newfoundland in 1000 AD.
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The late 1980’s was when I first heard of a places in Newport, Rhode Island, called Purgatory Chasm. While chatting with a woman I met at a coffee shop in Providence, I was about to learn the true research value of talking with the locals. It was springtime and we were talking about fun things we planned to do over the summer. I mentioned how I was planning on going to Purgatory Chasm that afternoon, and she told me she had been there before. She got my attention, and I listened closely as she told me all about the reservation. As the conversation continued, something didn’t sound right. We soon realized we were talking about two different Purgatory Chasms. I was speaking of the Chasm in Newport and she was speaking of the Chasm in Sutton, Massachusetts. Now even more interested, I grilled her for as much information as I could get. I thanked her for the lead, and was on my way. Months later, I made it up to Sutton to experience its Chasm, and was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
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Many places of questionable history and lore are hidden across New England. Few people are aware of their locations, and they wish to keep it that way. These sites consist of stone chambers and monuments of various styles and sizes. Some historians say they are only ‘root cellars’ that were built by colonists. Others entertain the idea that these lithic sites were constructed by much earlier visitors. The fact that many of them seem to be align with astronomical should give one pause. Archaeo-astronomer Byron Dix has determined that New England is chock-full of underground chambers. According to Mr. Dix, there are 105 astronomically aligned chambers in Massachusetts, 51 in New Hampshire, 41 in Vermont, 62 in Connecticut, 12 in Rhode Island, and 4 in Maine. The Early Sites Research Society which has been studying the chambers for over three decades, claims to have documented over 400 chambers in New England. Mystery Hill, and Gungywamp are the only sites that are commercially available to the public, while the rest remain hidden on private land or from public knowledge.
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