Strange New England - The Connecticut River Serpent

CT River

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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Strange New England Podcast

Strange History is the audio companion to the blog Strange New England where we investigate the forgotten, unusual, and simply strange folklore, history and destinations in New England.

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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 - Lost Glacial Park

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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Strange New England - Swallow Cave

swallo1Near a small Massachusetts village called Nahant,  is a cave that few people are aware of. It’s roughly 24 yards deep with a ceiling over six feet high.  I had stumbled upon an old print of the cave while researching caves of New England.  Intrigued by my discovery, I spent some time following up on it.  It was difficult to find anything written about the cave.  Eventually, I discovered a short description that mentioned a witch haunted it.  That was more than enough to put it on the top of my to-do list.  I scanned through topographical and nautical maps and found its location.  Spending a few more hours digging through the archives, I uncovered the story behind Swallow Cave.

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