Strange New England - The Glowing Thing of Moore Lake

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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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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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 - Rhode Islands Tea PartyAs you all may recall from history class, in 1773 a group of Boston residence that were upset by the high taxes from the British, tossed the bales of tea into the bay. This  would come to be known as The Boston Tea Party.  If you were fortunate enough, you may have even visited the museum that celebrates this historic event during a school field trip. What you might not be familiar with is the Rhode Island Tea Party.

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Strange New England - The Terror of Lake MemphremagogAlong 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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Strange New England - Dark Shadows of the East Side TunnelAs residents tromp about their business on the East side of Providence, something evil lurks below. A dark chasm in the bowels of college hill is the home of many frightening tales. A winter home for transients, a frat house for college parties and a church for satanic masses, the abandoned Eastside tunnel serves up a heaping dish of excitement for all those who venture inside.

The tunnel was built in 1908 as a means for easy access to Union Station in downtown Providence. The tunnel is an impressive 22 feet high, 31 feet wide and about a mile long. At its deepest point it is 110 feet below Prospect St. Originally the tunnel contained 2 tracks used by an electric commuter trolley for the first part of the last century. The trolley ran passenger to and from Warren, Bristol, and Fall River. After 1940 the tunnel seems to only have been used by freights of the Providence & Worcester RR. In 1981 they raised the Seekonk Bridge one last time and put an end to its use. Now the tunnel remains as an attraction for the curious and mischievous New Englander.

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Strange New England - Harvard's Statue of 3 LiesIn front of university hall at Harvard University stands a bronze statue of John Harvard. Danial Chester French sculpted the statue in 1884.  The statue of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial is one of Mr. French’s better-recognized works.  It had been originally placed on a granite pedestal to the west of Memorial Hall but was moved to its present location forty years later.  Harvard’s Statue had been unveiled for the University’s 250th birthday in 1885. There is an inscription on the statue that reads, “John Harvard, Founder, 1638.”  Though it may come as a surprise, none of it is true. All across campus the students refer to this monument to a great man as “the statue of three lies”. (more…)


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Strange New England - The Legend of Colebrook CaveIn 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 - Lost Gold Mines in New England

Stories of lost gold mines have always been popular among prospectors and treasure hunters. It is often believed that an undiscovered motherlode is just waiting for some treasure hunter to find it using modern technology. Lost mines often recall tales like that of Lost Dutchman’s Mine, coded maps and the wild west. New England is the last place anyone would expect find a gold mine. But surprisingly the northeastern states did have a short-lived boom in prospecting and gold mining. So far, over 20 lost and forgotten gold mines have been found in New England (excluding all the places known for placer gold).

With the stratospheric price of gold and popularity of the reality television show, Gold Rush, the interest in gold prospecting in New England has skyrocketed.  Forgotten mines and minor gold rushes in the northeast are a terrific topic to explore. Since there are so many mines and location to discuss, they can’t all fit in one article.  So, over the next year, look for a series of articles, each one spotlighting one of the six New England states, beginning with in Rhode Island. This southern New England state is known for its history, beaches, and food –not gold mines.  Surprisingly the biggest little state still keeps a few secrets in the form of prospects and mines.

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