Washington Irving wrote of the Headless Horseman, a tale of a Hessian of Sleepy Hollow who had lost his head in war. It’s a wonderful story that all enjoyed in their childhood. In RI though there is a more gruesome tale of a headless spirit in Swampton. This story may even predate Irving’s tale, and cause most to shudder in fear, when alone on Indian Corner Road.

In the early 1800s a large portion of Swampton consisted of over grown forest and wetlands. Virtually all of the roads that traverse through the wilds of this portion of RI didn’t have names. Often the locals would apply names to them that best described their location. While some were adorned with pleasant names like Rathbun and Sunnyside others had much more gruesome rubrics. Dark Corners, Purgatory Rd, and Robbers Corner carried names that both identified them and warned the weary traveler. Though most names changed over time, there are those who’s now formal name still carries the spirit of its location.  Indian Corner is the most interesting and frightening of those lonely byways.

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Strange New England - The Devil's Cave

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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Strange New England - Devils Foot Road

Through out history many small New England towns have chosen local landmarks that personify the unique flavor and history of the area. Often it will be a home where Washington slept, a tract of land where a battle occurred or even pub historical characters frequently stumble from on a late evening. When these sites are put at risk the community rallies to protect them. All in all, as this story begins it sounds much like the usual Yankee lifestyle and it would be if it were not for the odd characters and location involved. For in North Kingston RI at the end of Devil’s Foot Road is a rock bearing the same name. It came as a surprise to me when I had heard how important this slab of stone had become to this fair town and the many mysteries wrapped up in its history.

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Strange New England - Symbol Rock

In Rockville, Rhode Island, located in Yawgoog Scout Reservation, is a petroglyph that has baffled historians and archaeologists. On the local map, its noted as Symbol Rock. Experts have described the images as a woman with child, and various circular line drawings and depressions.  No one really knows what it’s meaning or purpose could be. Settlers discovered many of these rocks, but most were destroyed when the land was cleared for farms, or when the rocks were used for walls and buildings. Symbol Rock is one of the few stones that survived unharmed. Settlers that saw the rock were as puzzled as we are today. Local Indians did not provide any insight as to it’s origin. Archaeologists have many theories as to who created these carvings. Some experts claim a much earlier generation of Narragansett Indians may have carved the images. Others argue that the symbols are not at all like any known Indian symbols, and resemble Viking, Pre-Colombian Celtic, or Phoenicians symbols.

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