Strange New England - Lost Cave of Monroe

1858 Map of MonroeRumors of a lost cave in Monroe Connecticut have circulated for a long time. It has most likely been the inspiration for many young boys to explore the deep forest during those warm summer days. Tradition says that an adventuresome man named sharp stumbled onto a treasure hidden in a hillside of Monroe Connecticut. The story goes on to say that with 400’ of rope, Sharp explored the cave as far as safety would permit. What exactly he saw would remain a mystery. In the 1820s the cave was mined for Silver and limestone, but the ore acquired from it proved to be very poor quality. Eventually the mining ceased.

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Strange New England -Sutcliffe Cavern - Folklore

Pleasure Parties - Folklore

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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Strange New England - Castle Caves - GeologyCastle Caves Topo - New EnglandMonk 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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Strange New England - The Legend of Colebrook Cave- FolkloreColebrookIn 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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Strange New England - Deadmans Cave

Old Graphite MineI’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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Strange New England - Goshen’s Counterfeiters Cave - Mystery

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, but it is known as Goshen’s Counterfeiters 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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Strange New England - The Devil's Cave

Pine Grove Spiritual Camp - New EnglandI’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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Strange New England - Lacy's CavesIn 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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Strange New England - Damnation CaveDamnation Cave - GeologyIn 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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Strange New England - Eldon French's CaveThe story of Eldon French’s discovery of a beautiful cave reads like a young boy’s fantasy. It reminded me of those moments in my own childhood where I would read about pirates secreting treasure on some lonely shoreline or the discovery Beautiful Farm Land Near Eldon French's Home - Caveof ancient ruins. I would be out exploring the forests the next day in the hopes of making my own discovery. Eldon was one of the few whose love for exploration and keen sense of observation paid off. He had discovered what is still considered one of the longest caves in New England. Though my own childhood adventures more often met with great disappointment, this would be my chance to revisit those fantasies of my youth while living vicariously through Eldon’s story.

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