Some might say that northwestern Rhode Island had been cursed by some dark force in the past. It has been the source of many foul tales of devilish specters and hideous brutes. Its forests appear darker and colder than others. On all sides are ancient trees with branches that writhe like tendrils over its roads. As a fog settles over the evening, you can’t escape the feeling that stygian beast skulks within it. Though you might expect these sensations are borne from the darkest corners of our imagination, there are five men who would strongly disagree. For one late night in Glocester, Rhode Island, they encountered a fiend like no other; the Glocester Ghoul.
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The Connecticut River is the largest river in New England. It 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 seemingly beautiful and peaceful by day, its undulating coils hide many stories and secrets along its path to the Devil’s Belt. One is a mysterious glowing thing that lurks in its waters.
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Hidden within the undulating arm of the Connecticut River is a serpent that has frightened those who’ve lived on it banks since colonists first settled there. Often it has been described as an eel or snake-like serpent over one hundred feet long. Though over the past three hundred years it has been spotted by people across three states, it still appears to remain a mystery.
In the early 1800s, spotting strange creatures off the coast of Connecticut was not uncommon. Sailors would return to port with tales of ghastly leviathans they encountered in their travels. The most peculiar of these stories frequently surfaced in the local publications. One that crossed the pages of the New York Times and Scientific American was not reported by sailors at sea, but by people deep in the heart of Connecticut. This beast appeared to make its home in the Connecticut River.
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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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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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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. One of them that came to the shore for all to see was the Blockness Monster.
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Since 1923, the Appalachians have been believed to be the stomping ground of what some people call Devil Monkeys. Though they are thought to lurk in the mountains, every so often they are seen venturing into suburbia. They are described as between three and eight feet in height, with baboon or dog-like snouts, and dark black hair. These hostile primates are said to sport long claws, pointy ears and white hair from neck to belly. What makes those who have witness them so frightened is not only how out of place they appear, but that they have been reported to attack and sometime kill, small game, livestock and dogs.
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Sometimes while out on an adventure, the greatest discoveries made are the unexpected ones. Recently I had come across one of these amazing finds. I was exploring the Wickaboxet State Forest in West Greenwich Rhode Island looking for and trail to a cemetery of legend and lore. As I explored the north end of the property, I saw some fairly large mounds of dirt. At first I assumed that they were from animal borrows or maybe just remnants of decaying trees that had been exploited by termites. As I proceeded, I noticed some more along the road and the size was increasing. I decided to get a closer look and to my surprise, found that they were ant mounds.
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On April 21 1977, in Dover Massachusetts, an event took place that placed the town of Dover in the paranormal history books. Bill Bartlett and two friends were cruising around this small town enjoying the typical teenage conversations. Around 10:30 they began driving down Farm Street, a long and winding road surrounded by woods and fields. Suddenly, Bill noticed an animal climbing over a stone wall to the left of the road. As they approached the creature the headlight illuminate it and it froze in place like a startled deer. As it stared into the lights Bartlett noticed it had glowing orange eyes that resembled glass marbles. “It looked like a baby’s body with long arms and legs. It had a big head about the same size as the body, it was sort of melon shaped”, Bartlett stated.
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There are a variety of monster around the world that we are all aware of; The Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot are excellent example. Most New Englanders rest easy at night knowing that these creatures, if real, are lurking in regions far from their homes. Unfortunately, as these people go about their business feeling safe and secure a native fiend wanders about in the mountains and forest of the northeast
Far before the area was colonized, a fearsome being known as the Thunderbird terrified the Algonquin speaking peoples of New England. Though it was more closely associated with the plains Indians, the Thunderbird was believed to have roamed the territory.
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