Showing posts with label Infamous Bridgewater Triangle Legends & Locales. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Infamous Bridgewater Triangle Legends & Locales. Show all posts

Troubled Waters: The Bridgewater Triangle's Infamous Lake Nippenicket


Lake Nippenicket ( or “The Nip” for short) is 354-acres of extreme high strangeness. The Nip straddles Bridgewater and Raynham, and is located on the boundary line of Plymouth and Bristol counties. Cryptic creatures, spectral fires, Native American ghosts, UFOs and other unusual sightings have all been seen here at Lake Nip, a body of water that holds a mysterious history of accidents and drownings. For decades, this lake has held the reputation of stealing the lives people too young to die. With an average depth of a mere three feet—and just six feet at its deepest point—The Nip’s  morbid history of drowning certainly is one of
The Nip’s biggest mysteries.

 It seems as though Lake Nippenicket is a a place where anything can happen. The skies over The Nip are a favorite hangout for UFOs, and those same strange skies over the lake have rained frogs on at least on
Alien pods? No, just a bryazoan, a rare organism that  survived the ice age
which made an appearance in Lake Nip in the summer of 2012.
occasion.  In the 1920s, one local paper reported that Lake Nippenicket had snakes so large, they were eating the trout. In the summer of 2012, huge alien-looking blobs mysteriously invaded the dark waters of Lake Nippenickett. Some as large as four feet,  the strange jellyfish-looking organisms turned out to be a strange and little known about species that is millions of years old, having survived the ice age called Bryazoans. Bryazoans are typically found in the Arctic Ocean, but this particular breed--the Phylactomlaemata-- is found in freshwater. With tentacles, a mouth and reproductive organs, these creatures are one of Earth’s most bizarre creatures. That they would make an appearance here at the Nip is not that much a stretch of the imagination.

Black magic is said to be conducted on the islands of The Nip and local legend has it that the island are very sacred Indian burial grounds. Jack Kelley knows firsthand that crazy stuff goes on the islands. Growing up on the lake, Kelley has seen plenty of bizarre activity in his lifetime. “One time I rowed out to the small island and there we found evidence of voodoo. We found a weird doll with a seashell necklace and real human hair. It was real detailed. I touched it and wished I hadn’t. I felt weird for weeks until I went back. It was gone. All the ritual sites were gone.”

On the large island, Kelley also had many strange experiences, including this one:“One time a friend and I camped out on the island there in The Nip. Out of nowhere my friend started feeling suicidal. He was like “blank.” He started walking into water and tried to drown himself. Something had taken over his body and he was blank. Lifeless.”

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Comfort Bridge & The Solitude Stone


The Solitude Stone lay undiscovered for 80 years...until a local girl went missing after one fateful canoe trip in West Bridgewater in the summer of 1916. If Evelyn Packard hadn't mysteriously died, her body not found for days, the Solitude Stone might never had been discovered at all.

1916. A missing girl vanishes from a canoe on the Town River in West Bridgewater within a half hour after she rents her canoe. The canoe is found shortly after with no clues as to her
whereabouts. Her coat and a pillow are found inside the canoe "bone dry."

One headline read: "Doctors Fear Girl is Crazed in Hockomock Swamp." After combing the woods for days and finding no clues as to her whereabouts, foul play is suspected. During one of grueling searches of the woods of the swamp, a local reporter decides to take a break and sits down  on nearby Comfort Bridge, a bridge that at the time was made out of three immense ancient stones. Up until of August of 1916, no one had noticed that there was something very special about this particular stone. Hidden under 80 years of dirt and moss, was the stone that would become known as the "Solitude Stone." It would take some time to uncover the mysterious author of the words inscribed on it. And that person would turn out to be the leading Egyptologist of the day, called upon worldwide to decipher hieroglyphics. He wrote the book "The Temple of Solomon" and followed the teachings of an occultist mystic.

Only in the Bridgewater Triangle, right?

The Solitude Stone might possibly be the BIGGEST clue in the mystery of the Bridgewater Triangle.
Let me start at the beginning. “Pretty” Evelyn Packard--as local papers called her--had taken the trolley from her Brockton home to The Americanage Club on South Street on August 4, 1916. There on one beautiful, sunny Wednesday morning, she rented a canoe and began a journey to which she would never return. Soon after Packard began her paddle “into oblivion” down Town River, two local boys found her canoe floating empty in a lagoon. The authorities were stunned. If she had fallen into the water from her canoe, surely there would be water on the interior to indicate a splash. But there was none. The canoe was bone dry. Area doctors speculated that Packard had wandered into Hockomock Swamp and had become “crazed by her experiences.” The townspeople dragged the river, despite the suspicion that the girl was lost in the swamp, but produced no evidence to solve the mystery of her disappearance. The day after Packard disappeared, one local newspaper reported, “The mystery remains as deep as ever and that there remains one explanation: That the young woman was the victim of foul play. Miss Packard’s own family scout the theory of her being enticed into one of the several cottages along the river bank and being held prisoner. In other words, the disappearance of the really beautiful and shapely 27-year old Brockton girl is as profound a mystery tonight as it was on Wednesday afternoon, when the canvas-covered canoe, which had been hired earlier in the day at the Americanage Canoe Club, was found drifting, right side up, and with the interior and the contests as dry as a chip, by two boys.”

Packard's body was found under Skim Milk Bridge (two bridges down the river from Comfort on the Town River) three days after she first went missing. During the search for her body, while searchers were still combing the river, a local newspaper reporter found something curious in the woods. A peculiar stone with an inscription on it...in the middle of nowhere. 1900s Bridgewater Historian Edgar Howard wrote of the incident: "While sitting upon the bridge, resting after a day of arduous searching for the girl, the writer’s attention was arrested by an inscription chiseled upon the flat stone forming the south side of the bridge. The stone is of an oblong shape and perhaps five or six feet across. Curiosity was aroused and an attempt was made to decipher the ancient inscription, which comprised of six lines extending across the face of the stone, and which had been almost been obliterated by time and the elements, and it was only by clearing away the tangled vines and filling the letters."


Poem Inscribed on the Solitude Stone:

All ye, who in future days,
Walk by Nunckatessett stream
Love not him who hummed his lay
Cheerful to the parting beam,
But the Beauty that he wooed.

Emmanual Swedonborg
As to who the author and inscriber of the solitude stone was, it was a mystery. Why would someone take the time to inscribe these words onto a stone where no one would find it? Edgar Howard made it his mission to discover who the poet and inscriber were who had carved the lines into to the ancient rock. “The beauty of the scene may well have inspired the lines. To the south stretches Eagles Nest Meadows toward the Hockomock, with the winding Nunckatessett and the woods beyond. At the bridge the stream makes a sharp turn to the right before it reaches the Pine Hill ridge, crowned by whispering pines, flowing under the old bridge, with its riot of vines and almost hiding it from view.” 

It was Howard who figured out it was Timothy Otis Paine who left his mark in the solitude of the woods so long ago. REVEREND Timothy Otis Paine. Reverend Timothy Otis Paine of the New Church of Jeruselum. Never heard of The New Church? It is a religion based on Christianity and the teachings of the occultist Emanuel Swedenborg and largely based on principles of the Age of Aquarius. From Swedonborg's teachings came the Rite of Swedonborg or the Swedonborg Rite, a fraternity that paralled freemasonry.


"A detailed discussion of those ideas, and of Swedenborgian theology in general is beyond the scope of this paper but certain aspects must be noted in order to make sense of the Swedenborgian Rite. For Swedenborg the physical world is the result of spiritual causes, and the laws of nature are reflections of spiritual laws; thus objects and even the material world are images of their spiritual counterparts. This is his doctrine of 'correspondences'. From this derives the other notion that concerns us: the idea behind the literal, historical meaning of the scriptures is an inner, spiritual sense — which sense is drawn out for all to see in Swedenborg’s expository works. And it was a fascination with those expository works that led to the first creation of a masonic Rite of Swedenborg."

"Swedenborg had an influence upon Freemasonry, albeit unknown to himself...'it was the Freemasons of the advanced degrees who borrowed from Swedenborg, and not Swedenborg from them." Out of the teachings of Swedonborg came the "Swedonborg Rite" or the "Rite of Swedonborg."


 Was Timothy Otis Paine a member of this rite? My guess would be yes. Because Paine was not your average reverend/poet. He was also the LEADING Egyptologist of the day--the "go to" person for deciphering heiroglyphics. Paine was an interesting man. Theologian, archaeologist, Egyptologist, reverend, poet and historian. To say that Timothy Otis Paine was man of mystery would certainly be an understatement. To say that he was accomplished would be a disservice to all that he did. Two of his most interesting accomplishments are his book "Solomon's Temple" and his translation of the Egyptian "Book of The Dead." Two subjects of vital interest to brothers of freemasonry.

"According to Masonic historians, Freemasonry is based on the principles and values of ancient Egypt. The most important principle of the Freemasons that is traced to ancient Egypt is the belief in materialist evolution. This theory of evolution is based on the belief that the universe exists by and of itself, evolving only by chance. In this theory of evolution, matter was always extant, and the world originated when order arose from chaos. This state of chaos was referred to as Nun. A latent, creative force exists within this state of disorder which has the potential to rise above the disorder.

Another philosophical connection established between the ancient Egyptians and the Freemasons is believed to be the common rituals associated with death and burial practices. Specifically, the link between ancient Egypt and the Masons can be found in the text known as The Book of the Dead. This text’s original title is in fact The Book of Coming Forth by Day. It is an ancient Egyptian funerary text that outlines instructions for the afterlife."

Curiously, there is a photo at the West Bridgewater Library of the Solitude Stone. Whoever owned the photo had inscribed in the left-hand corner the name of the locally famous local landmark But curiously the former owner did not write “The Solitude Stone” in firm black ink. Instead the photo was inscribed with the name “The Suicide Stone.” It is unknown how many suicides it took for the Solitude Stone to earn its grisly nickname, but in 1880, a heartbroken young man by the name of John Crane shot himself in the head near it in 1880. " The bridge had “a reputation for suicide.” But at this time I have yet to figure out what suicides happened on the bridge.

In 1970, the West Bridgewater Conservation Commission moved the Solitude Stone to a safer place not far from its original spot during road construction. The old rock Comfort Bridge was dismantled and another bridge was built out of wood not far from the location of the Solitude Stone. The stone is located on Forest Street, on the left, just before the wooden bridge.
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Freetown Forest: Unidentified Floating Objects Descend From The Sky In 1942

"None of the witnesses saw any "human forms," and one witness suggested perhaps it was parts of a plane that fell to the ground. But no plane parts were found. "None of the citizens reporting to police were certain that the objects floating down were human, but they were certain that "something" had descended over the Freetown and Assonet areas."

What fell from the skies over Freetown Forest on the night of November 4, 1942? I don't know. And neither did the witnesses who saw the "objects" descending from the sky and down into the forest that night, nor did the police who investigated the incident. After receiving four separate reports that night from nervous citizens who witnessed the event, police took the indent very seriously. 

Some witness described the objects as looking like parachutes. And why wouldn't they? It was the dawn of World War II and anything suspicious would certainly be percieved as relating to the war. It isn't unlikely that those scared citizens believed the Germans had started their invasion of Bristol County!

None of the witnesses saw any "human forms," and one witness suggested perhaps it was parts of a plane that fell to the ground. But no plane parts were found. "None of the citizens reporting to police were certain that the objects floating down were human, but they were certain that "something" had descended over the Freetown and Assonet areas."

Sargent Michael Ryan was on duty on Brightman Bridge in Fall River that night, when he was approached by two separate individuals, at two different times. The two witnesses' stories were almost identical. Patrolman Michael Hart was stationed at the other side of town when someone approached him with the same story. By the time an anonymous call came into the station, police were already on alert. 

Authorites searched the woods and found nothing. They contacted the Army who assured them they were not involved in the incident in any way. The mystery was never solved. It is just another page in the open book of the Bridgewater Triangle.

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The Red Headed Hitchhiker: The Four Stories That Made Him Infamous & And the Author Behind the Legend


Ask anyone familiar with the Bridgewater Triangle, "Who is the most famous resident ghost?" and they'll tell you: It's "The Red Headed Hitchhiker of Route 44. This menacing, disheveled-looking phantom, dressed in a red plaid shirt with a messy red beard and crazy hair is said to haunt a five-mile stretch of road at the beginning of 38-mile long route 44. The legend of "The Red Headed Hitchhiker" was first laid out by Rehoboth historian, anthropologist, and archaeologist, Charles Turek Robinson in his 1994 classic, "The New England Ghost Files: An Authentic Compendium of Frightening Phantoms." Robinson called the hitchhiker  "The Red-Headed Phantom of Route 44" and labeled the legends of this maniacal, horrific spirit,  "Ghost File #7." Robinson includes 57 "Ghost Files" in his book, although he collected close to 200 first hand accounts of run-ins with ghosts in his research for this work. Robinson meticulously interviewed each witness three times, as to ensure their authenticity.

Five different local residents came forward to Robinson with similar accounts about a strange man sighted on the dark leg of route 44 that connects Seekonk with Rehoboth. In each of the accounts, the red-headed man looks 100% real, but never speaks, his countenance and blank, his eyes are empty, yet he smiles eerily. And often laughs frantically.

The first witness of "Ghost File #7" is a man Robinson calls, "Joe." Joe reported:  "I saw a man's face outside the car, pressed against the passenger-side window. This was physically impossible...my car was traveling about fifty miles an hour. The face was looking in at me, grinning. I could see that the man had red hair and was wearing a red plaid shirt. I swerved off the highway and brought my car to a stop. But that time, the man had vanished. After about ten minutes I finally calmed down enough to restart my car and drive home. That incident has left me shaken up for the past twenty-five years." Joe's encounter took place in the winter of 1969.


Robinson calls the next witness, "Fred Durpis." One summer night at around 10 o'clock back in 1973, "Fred" saw the "hitchhiker." Fred pulled over to give him a lift and saw the man running toward his truck in his rear-view mirror. The "man" climbed in and Fred asked him where he was headed. The man just sat there in silence, smiling. Again, Fred asked, "Where are you going?" The man just sat there in the cab of the truck, smiling. That was enough for "Fred." He pulled the truck over and ordered the man out. The hitchhiker complied. But instead of opening truck door, he simply disappeared.  "He just stared to get very hazy until I could behind to see through him."

The next tale Robinson tells is of a woman who named "Barbara" who encountered the phantom in February of 1981. The woman was driving along route 44--going about sixty miles per hour--when suddenly she hit a man fitting the description of the infamous hitchhiker: Red hair, red plaid shirt. Only when she hit the man, her car drove right through him.

"There was no time to brake or even swerve the car. In a matter of seconds I ran him over. I mean, I thought I had." Barbara stopped the car, thinking she had just killed someone. Only, no one was there. Walking back to her car after thoroughly checking the road, the woman heard something that chilled her to the bone.

"I heard this loud, horrible laughter coming from the woods to the side of the road, right near the spot where thought I hit the man...The laughter was terrible." She got into her car and drove away, stunned. To her horror, after driving down route 44 not even a mile, there was the man again in the middle of the road and again she drove right through him. Again she stopped the car, but this time she did not get out, only rolled down the car window. Again, she heard the laughter. At that point the woman booked it out of there.

The last story in Robinson's chapter on "Ghost File #7" is about a Swansea couple he calls "Harry and Sheena Hanson." Harry and Sheena were driving route 44 in October of 1984 when their car broke down. Harry told Sheena to stay in the car, while he tried to find a pay phone to call AAA road service. The man makes his way down the dark road when he spots what he describes as a "sloppy looking guy with red messy hair" sitting on the side of the road.

The man asked the stranger if he knew where the closest pay phone is. The stranger didn't answer. The man asked him again. The messy red-haired man only sat in silence staring at him. So the man asked again. And again. And there was silence. One more time the man asked and now he notices what he describes as an "odd grin" upon the stranger's face. The man asked the stranger if he is okay. Upon posing the question, the stranger's face changed. The man described  the eerie nighttime encounter with the "hitchhiker" this way: “Suddenly, the man’s face got very strange. He stopped grinning, he twisted his mouth and I noticed that there was something wrong with his eyes. They were all clouded over--no pupils or anything. Just blank and all white. I began to feel weird and started to walk away from him. As I hurried away, I heard the man laughing. I turned around, but he was no longer there. I mean, I could no longer see him there, but I still heard the laughing. It was coming from just a few feet away from me. And the laughing kept switching locations. First in front of me, then behind me, then to the left of me. It was bizarre."

The man ran back to the car in fright only to find his wife standing outside of it, visibly terrified. She tells her husband that after he left she had turned on the car radio and was listening to a song when to her horror suddenly the song wasn't coming out of the radio anymore: A very creepy man's voice came out of the car's speakers instead. The voice taunted her, called her by name, all the while laughing hysterically.

"Is it just the spread of local folklore that accounts for so many separate reports involving the same alleged phantom? The skeptics among us might say so, though it should be noted that the witnesses interviewed by the author were intelligent, non-superstitious people who related their accounts sincerely, consistently, and credibly. In all cases, they had clearly been affected by their very strange experiences," Robinson states in "Ghost Files."


Charles Turek Robinson at Village Cemetery, Rehoboth. Copyright Taunton Gazette. For full article, click here. 

Robinson--a Harvard educated anthropologist, archaeologist, and writer--was thrown into the world of tracking and recording local ghost stories quite by accident, after running an article one Halloween featuring the work of one of the country's first ghost hunters, Hans Holtzer. In his research, a story about a poltergeist in his hometown of Rehoboth emerged. Soon after the article was published, Robinson's editor started receiving letters addressed to " Charles Turek Robinson" from locals, eager to relay their own accounts of supernatural activity. And the father of a legend was born. In an interview in the May, 2002 edition of "Cyril Magazine," Robinson revealed: "Many of the accounts that were related to me by readers were silly and contained many of the usual stereotypes....I rejected those. However, there were a few that were very provocative in their originality. They did not contain the usual stereotypes and sensationalism. They contained elements so unusual and so original that if these people hadn't really had these experiences, they should have been writing or telescripting in Hollywood."

Order your own copy of "New England Ghost Files!"




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Clear "Class-A" Bridgewater Triangle Bigfoot Sighting in Freetown

2009 was a hot year the Bridgewater Triangle for Bigfoot sightings in the vicinity of Freetown, the town that serves as the western angle of the delineated map of this bizarre area.  The most interesting of these accounts happened on July 14th of that year, when a young man and his girlfriend spotted a "large brown hair-covered "man" standing up from a crouched position on the side of a two lane highway."

This witness immediately reported his sighting to the BFRO, who interviewed him three weeks after the incident. The following is the witness' report to the Bigfoot Field Research Organization:

"My girlfriend and I were riding in my Jeep on Route 140 from New Bedford to Freetown tonight and at about 11:00 my girlfriend saw this large brown hair covered "man" standing up from a crouched position on the side of the two lane highway. She lets out a scream prompting me to look at the creature standing there. He made fluid movements like a man and had an almost ape-like quality. We couldn't see his face but upon returning to the area we saw the "man" there was nothing. After calling 911 and telling them that someone was running in the median of the highway they told us that they had similar reports of what we saw on the stretch of highway between exit 7 (Braley Rd.) and exit 8 (Chase Rd.) They then told me that they were sending state troopers to investigate."

And here is is BFRO Investigator D.A. Brake's Official Report on the incident:
The witness (driver) was phone interviewed approximately three weeks after submitting the report. The girlfriend did not want to talk about the incident since the memory of it still upset her. A 30 minute inquiry and site visit to the specific area of the sighting provided some additional details summarized below. The witness was driving northbound and traveling approximately 70 mph in the left/passing lane closest to the divided highway median. The depressed grass median between Exits 7 and 8 of the north and southbound lanes is approximately 40 yards wide. The witness stated that the animal had a wide midsection covered in brown body hair, darker brown, long arms and was approximately 7- to 8-feet tall based on the height of a highway mile marker that was just adjacent to where the animal was standing. The witness also stated that the animal had a long chiseled jaw. The total duration of the sighting was approximately 3 seconds from the time the witness turned his head and first saw the animal until his car passed the creature. As his car passed the animal which was standing only 3-4 feet to the left of the hood of his Jeep, the witness reported having a scared sensation and noted that the animal had one arm down and the other arm up in a bent position as if getting ready to cross the northbound lane. The witness exited the highway approximately two miles north of the sighting and traveled back southbound to the point of the sighting but did not see anything unusual.  Although the placement of the 911 call by the witness was not confirmed, the witness reported that he subsequently had an informal discussion of the sighting with a friend who is a Massachusetts State Trooper whom was on call that night. The police officer told him that the local dispatcher did receive several related calls around the same time that evening, and he and several other troopers responded to the call and arrested several teenagers who were in the general area. However, upon receiving this information, the witness remained steadfast in his belief that what he saw was not a teenager playing a prank. The location of this sighting is immediately west of the Bolton Cedar Swamp, recognized as an important conservation land tract comprised of wetlands, ponds, bogs and acidic swamps vegetated with Atlantic White Cedar, pitch pine and scrub oak. The sighting occurred approximately three miles southeast of the eastern border of the Freetown-Fall River State Forest. This state forest marks the western point of the ‘Bridgewater Triangle’, an area of approximately 200 square miles that has had numerous reports of paranormal activity dating as far back 350 years when Native American Tribes and colonists co-inhabited the area.”




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The Bridgewater Triangle's Devil's Footprints

The Devil's Footprints can still be seen today imprinted in a large boulder in
Norton, Massachusetts. Photo by Kristen Good

“As he turned up the soil unconsciously, his staff struck against something hard. He raked it out of the vegetable mould, and lo! a cloven skull with an Indian tomahawk buried deep in it, lay before him. The rust on the weapon showed the time that had elapsed since this death blow had been given. It was a dreary memento of the fierce struggle that had taken place in this last foothold of the Indian warriors.” The Devil and Tom Walker, Washington Irving, 1824.

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Who needs the tales of Washington Irving when you have the history of the “Leonard Family of Taunton”? The Leonard family history sounds like a Washington Irving tale, with its themes of pacts with the Satan, devil's footprints, buried bones, a man on galloping on horseback through the woods carrying a severed head…even sacred Indian land. Washington Irving, most famous for spinning the legendary yarn,“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” wrote a short story called “The Devil and Tom Walker” in 1824. In many ways, Irving's story of a man who makes a pact with the devil, exchanging the promise of his soul in return for riches, mirrors the legend of the very real George Leonard, a wealthy ironworker who figures prominently in the history of the town of Norton.

According to the Norton Historical Society: “It is said that Leonard made a league with the devil in order to acquire great wealth. He promised his body to the devil when he died. Leonard became very rich and an influential citizen of the town. In 1716 when Leonard died, the devil came to claim his body. Surprised in the act, the devil climbed out a window. He jumped so hard on a nearby boulder, that he left footprints there. One can see those footprints on the rock by the parking lot of the Solomonese School. The mansion was situated at the corner of West Main and North Worcester Streets where Chartley Corner Plaza is today,” Says the Norton Historical society about the legend. Norton Historical Society’s George Yelle says that while he is not a believer in the paranormal, he has to admit he found it odd that when he was filmed for a local cable station special about the Devil’s Footprints at the rock he had to do the entire shoot over again. The producers of the show contacted Yelle and explained–though this had never happened before in their careers–inexplicably his interview at the Devil’s Footprints was now blank and they needed to schedule a reshoot. The second attempt at filming was successful. Washington Irving's tale of another fortune-seeking Colonial character that Irving named Tom Walker, also has a man on horseback encounter a man in black in the dark woods, but Irving places Walker in a dark swamp:

“One day that Tom Walker had been to a distant part of the neighbourhood, he took what he considered a short cut homewards through the swamp. Like most short cuts, it was an ill chosen route. The swamp was thickly grown with great gloomy pines and hemlocks, some of them ninety feet high; which made it dark at noonday, and a retreat for all the owls of the neighbourhood. In Irvings tale, Walker's destination is an old Indian Fort. “At length he arrived at a piece of firm ground, which ran out like a peninsula into the deep bosom of the swamp. It had been one of the strong holds of the Indians during their wars with the first colonists. Here they had thrown up a kind of fort which they had looked upon as almost impregnable, and had used as a place of refuge for their squaws and children.” “It was late in the dusk of evening that Tom Walker reached the old fort, and he paused there for a while to rest himself. Anyone but he would have felt unwilling to linger in this lonely melancholy place, for the common people had a bad opinion of it from the stories handed down from the time of the Indian wars; when it was asserted that the savages held incantations here and made sacrifices to the evil spirit. Tom Walker, however, was not a man to be troubled with any fears of the kind. As he turned up the soil unconsciously, his staff struck against something hard. He raked it out of the vegetable mould, and lo! a cloven skull with an Indian tomahawk buried deep in it, lay before him. It was a dreary memento of the fierce struggle that had taken place in this last foothold of the Indian warriors.”

 Strange that George Leonard’s grandfather played a role in that very Indian wars Irving refers to. Because this story of the Leonard’s begins with Thomas Leonard, George Leonard’s grandfather, who was among the first men to settle the area of Taunton in the area now known as Raynham. The son of an English iron worker, Thomas Leonard and his brother immediately set out to build the first successful iron forge in the country, using the rich iron ore deposits of nearby Fowling Pond and Lake Nippenicket. Fowling Pond has long since disappeared, now a swath of land known as Pine Swamp on King Philip’s Street. Reportedly two miles long and nearly three-quarters of mile wide, historians of the 19th century recorded recollections of old timers who remembered swimming and boating on Fowling Pond in their youth.

Fowling Pond. Image courtesy of Old Colony Historical Society.

How Fowling Pond, once the summer camp of King Philip (Massasoit’s son) disappeared is a bit of a mystery. “Perhaps a great storm cut a swath through the embankment and drained the pond, it is one of nature’s curiosities where once King Philip rested and summered on the banks of a beautiful body of water and the tribe stocked to food to last through the long cold months ahead, there is now nothing left but the tall trees rising from a murky swamp.” Carolyn Owen, former Old Colony Historical Society Archivist. Before 1670, Thomas Leonard built a house that might have been the oldest house in country to bare the scars of war. It was said until at least the 1900s, there was “an ancient case of drawers that used to stand in this house upon which the deep scars of King Philip’s War and mangled impressions are to be seen” that was still in existence. Until its destruction in 1850, the Leonard house was officially the oldest mansion in the country The house was enormous compared to America’s standards at the time. Thomas Leonard would have no way of knowing that his grand home would serve as a garrison in a war that would go down as being the most grizzly, barbaric, and bloodiest war in the history of America. He would have no way of knowing that the house would be attacked by a band of Wampanoags. That two young girls would be savagely slain and buried beneath his prized porch. If he had the knowledge that the severed head of a man he considered a friend would lay in waiting in his cellar in that house, surely Leonard never would have built a house so grand. If he known. The sheer size of the“old gothic” Leonard house made it a perfect garrison. Known locally until its destruction as “The House of Seven Gables,” the old Leonard house rose two-and-half stories, framed with its famed facade gables. The house’s most unique feature was its impressive two story, gable-roofed porch.

B4INREMOTE-aHR0cDovLzEuYnAuYmxvZ3Nwb3QuY29tLy1fZGVCNVBmVFNRcy9VSGdfdVB2VmNSSS9BQUFBQUFBQUFXZy9GdE9sRTcwVGsyMC9zNDAwL1ZCK1JheW5oYW0rMistK0hvdXNlK29mK1NldmVuK0dhYmxlcytMZW9uYXJkK0hvdXNlK2Ryd2cuanBn
The “House of Seven Gables.” Courtesy of The Old Colony Historical Society.

The house served a major role in King Philip’s War– a war that would only last fourteen months and would totally decimate the Wampanoag Tribe, whose territories stretched from Halifax to Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island at the time of the war. “King Philip,” whose Native American name was either Pometacom or Metacom, was the second son of Chief Massasoit, who aided the pilgrims in their early years and taught them how to survive in an unfamiliar land. In 1675, after over ten years of tension between the tribe and the colonists, war broke out. Before the late 1800s, King Philip’s War was simply known as “The Indian War,” as Washington Irving refers to it in “The Devil and Tom Walker.” Massasoit’s first son Alexander (Wamsutta) was taken prisoner by the Plymouth Colony Militia in 1662 who mysteriously fell ill while being held for questioning in Duxbury. Many historians speculate, based on Plymouth Colony records, that Alexander was murdered. After Alexander’s death, Philip became chief and in the next thirteen years, tensions would only mount between the Wampanoag Tribe, who had inhabited the land for over 30,000 years and the English, who had been here roughly 40 years. There was no tension between the Leonard Family and the Wampanoag Tribe. The great chief and the Leonards were neighbors and spent time together in the summer when Philip “was in town” as well as traded amongst each other. The Leonards had valuable metal tools needed by the tribe. In 1675, inevitable war broke out. But King Philip gave strict orders to his warriors to spare Leonard Country from attacks and burning. He made them promise “never to harm a Leonard.” The Chief’s order was ignored at least twice. Once when James’ brother Uriah was shot at as he tried to escape on horseback, but fortunately for Leonard, the bullets shot at him by the Wampanoags simply passed through his hat.

The most tragic betrayal of King Philip’s men to their Chief’s command would be the shooting of two young girls who tried to flee the garrison (If it is indeed true.)  In 1797,  Dr. Fobes of Taunton wrote a genealogical sketch of the Leonard family. In it, this story appears for the first time. According to The Old Colony Historical Society, it seems if this happened, there would be some kind of documentation of the event, not just a blurb in a historical recollection. Fobes reported that the two girls were buried beneath the porch, (likely because the area was surrounded and people of inside the garrison, mostly woman and children, did not want to stray too far from the house to bury the two girls for fear of being shot.) Another note Fobes makes is reference to something that if it is indeed true, then was by far the most horrific act ever performed in the Old Leonard house: the “deposition” of King Philip’s head. Captured and killed on August 12, 1776, Captain Benjamin Church ordered the chief’s beheading and quartering of his body. The four corners of his body were hung in trees, Church vowing that “bones” The image of Church riding his horse, carrying around a severed head through the forests of New England on his way to present to Plymouth is gruesome indeed. That he kept the great chief’s head may have been kept at the Leonard House–King Philip’s trusted friends– is simply horrific. This writer cannot help but to wonder if James Leonard even knew, or if Church hid the head in the cellar of the garrison without consent from Leonard. Wonder is all we can do. Since no details of how long or when the head “was deposited” at the Leonard family exist on record, even the Old Colony Historical Society is forced to speculate.





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Hockomock Swamp


“On still nights the evil glitter of fox fire or the demonic cackle of a barred owl sent chills up the spines of the early settlers. Hordes of crows rose each morning for the guts of the swamp to ravage farmers corn. And from time to time, young girls merrily picking blueberries along the fringes found themselves ‘drawn farther and farther along unfamiliar paths seduced by the increasing size of the berries until at last they were lost and claimed by the swamp forever."



Native Americans named the swamp “Hockomock” hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago. Hockomock in the Algonquin word for “place where spirit’s dwell.” The Indians had tremendous respect and awe for the swamp and regarded it as a “magical” place. There being no swamps in England, the colonists had a different take on the swamp. They were terrified by it. The fear that Hockomock Swamp instilled in the colonists of the 1600s inspired the nicknames “The Devil’s Swamp” and “The Devil’s Bowl.”
Hockomock Swamp is known as the “heart of the triangle.” Many Bigfoot, Thunderbird and monster snake sightings and other creatures have been witnessed just outside of the swamp and many believe that these creatures live within it. Others consider these creatures “spirit entities” that seldom appear in our realm. People have reported seeing everything from a four-foot high panther with glowing red eyes to ghosts of Native American spirits. One of the local legends is of a turtle “as big as a Volkswagen beetle“. Hockomock Swamp, along with Freetown Forest was named one of the USA Today’s “Top Ten Great Haunts” in 2008. Freetown Forest is in Freetown, the southeastern apex of the triangle. It is place filled with negative--many even say evil--energy. The forest is most famous for its murders--especially those of committed by satanic cults. To this day satanic activity is taking place in the forest and it is not uncommon to see the “hooded people” practicing rituals there. Hockomock Swamp is also a place where satanic activity is said to occur and every once in awhile, you will come across a tree in the swamp with strange markings. Voodoo is also practiced in the swamp. The word “Hockomock” is Algonquin for “place where spirits dwell.” The colonists called it “Devil’s Swamp,” no doubt because they feared the unknown terrain of the New England swamps. These thick, seemingly unsurpassable wetlands filled with wolves ready to attack, quicksand, and the sounds of nocturnal animals screeching in the darkness had the colonists scared out of their minds. One of the first recorded order of business for Bridgewater in 1659 was to order wolf traps to place around the swamp. Legend has it that more than a few colonists who entered the swamp, became disorientated and never came out. Many people have reported getting lost in the swamp, even those who are familiar with the terrain. Just two years ago two seasoned hunters suddenly became disorientated and lost their way. The two men had a terrifying ordeal being lost in the once familiar swamp for hours before being found. 






Six Bridgewater Triangle towns spanning two counties--Plymouth and Bristol--get to lay claim to Hockomock Swamp: Easton, Raynham, Taunton, Bridgewater, Norton and West Bridgewater.  Nearly 5,000 of its16,900 acres (nearly 27-square miles) are managed by the Hockomock Swamp Wildlife Management Area. At its heart, the swamp is a dense tangle of briar and trees, quicksand and mud, a vast no man’s land, with many parts—no doubt—having never been encroached upon by human feet. “Ice that forms through the winter months in some areas of the swamp is insulated and shaded from the warming, spring sun. Gradually, during early summer, it melts, and the resulting cooler temperatures offer refuge for sub-arctic plants and animals not indigenous to this area.” In sharp contrast, the past 50 years have seen major commercial development to the outer borders of Hockomock Swamp and swathes have been cut through the swamp to create highways such as Routes 24 and 495.

The Hock is host to animals not indigenous to southern Massachusetts, such as Cow Moose, black bears, Africal Sevrel and mountain lions. The tales of animals not indigenous to the area--yet have appeared here—are not told as loudly as the tales of animals not indigenous to this world,, for many believe that Hockomock Swamp is home base for a host of fortean creatures including giant pterodactyl-looking Thunderbirds, Bigfoot, anaconda-sized snakes, and giant monster black dogs.

Many people who have explored The Hock have reported abrupt feelings of terror and dread, coupled with the distinct feeling of being watched. Disorientation and losing track of time is another not so uncommon occurrence. Satanic cults, priests and priestesses of voodoo, and brothers and sisters of witchcraft are rumored to use parts of the swamp for ritualistic sacrifices and as places of worship. People who live on its fringes certainly have seen and heard it all, from strange human-like screams bellowing from the depths of the swamp, to reports poltergeist activity in their very homes. Some report the frequent appearance of “spooklights” lights hovering above the trees and larger, stranger lights coming from the area of the swamp.

This is what one Bridgewater Triangle resident had to say about growing up on the fringes of Hockomock Swamp: "The neighborhood kids often talked about feeling watched in the swamp, and hearing something bulling through the forest, knocking down trees. We'd also heard of people actually hearing loud, bloodcurdling screams. It wasn't until I was maybe ten or eleven that some friends and I experienced these things for ourselves...along with a whole slew of other phenomenon: disembodied voices, trees being "thrown" at us while deep in the woods, what looked like large human footprints in the corn fields, ghostly forms, strange lights, a strange squeaking sound that seemed to be coming from a plastic toy (a Native American head), that seemed to respond to questions and things we were saying), cult activity, you name it."


Others have reported experiences have the strange phenomenon of being out in the swamp in the middle of the afternoon, only to have it inexplicably turn into night. Here is one of those reports: "It happened a couple of time. I'd be by myself in the swamp near the Prospect Hill Extension. Sundown during deer season is usually between 5 and 6 o'clock. I went to the deer stand and in the swamp it seemed to get dark like an hour before it should have. I'd walk back to the street and it would still be light out." He added: "I lived in that area for over 17 years. I grew up in the swamp exploring it every day. But I always got this weird feeling that I was being watched when I would be coming back from the deer stands after sundown."

Another man who grew up in the triangle area had this to report: "I am very familiar with the Hockomock Swamp. I used to live in West Bridgewater. I have been deep that swamp many times, hunting. I never saw or experienced anything unusual until one day, when I has camping with a buddy on the Town River. We noticed something weird was going on in the sky. There must have been at least 20 of these crazy-shaped aircraft with all kinds of crazy lights going overhead, just above the trees. They weren't high up at all. We couldn't figure out what they were. They were silent. No sound at all. And they were not normal aircraft. That's for sure."



 
Hockomock Swamp and King Philp's War
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Bridgewater Triangle Monster Snakes & Vanishing Lakes



Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) workers clear a swamp.


"Huge mystery snakes have been sighted before in the Hockomock region. In 1939, Roosevelt-era CCC workers, completing a project on King Philip's Street at the edge of the swamp, reported seeing a huge snake as large around and black as a stove-pipe.' The snake coiled for a moment, raised its spade-like head and disappeared into the swamp. Local legends claim that a huge snake appears every seven years." Loren Coleman, Mysterious America: The Ultimate Guide To The Nation's Weirdest Wonders, Strangest Spots, and Creepiest Creatures.



Raynham, King Philip, Pine Swamp and Fowling Pond



Although Fowling Pond was the same size as nearby Lake Nip, this lake disappeared in less than a hundred years. By 1800, only small remnants of the pond remained. By the turn of the century, it had completely dried up to a swath of land known as Pine Swamp on King Philip's Street. In 1840, the following was included in a book called "Historical Collections of Massachusetts" by John Barber: "Fowling Pond, is itself a great curiosity. Before Philips' war it seems to have been a large pond, nearly two miles long and three quarters of a mile wide. Since then, the water is almost gone, and the large tract it once covered is grown up to a thick-set swamp of cedar and pine. That this, however, was once a large pond, haunted by fowls, and supplied with fish in great plenty, is more than probable, for here is found, upon dry land, a large quantity of white floor sand, and a great number of smooth stones, which are never found except on shores or places long washed by water."

"What could induce Philip to build his house here? It was undoubtedly, fishing and fowling, in this, then large pond. But more than than all, there is yet living in this town a man of more than ninety years old, who can well remember, than when he was a boy, he had frequently gone off in a canoe to fish in this pond; and says, that many a fish had been catched, where the pines and cedars are now more than fifty feet high. If an instance, at once so rare, and well attested, as this, should not be admitted as a curious scrap of the natural history of this country; yet it must be admitted as a strong analogical proof, that many of our swamps were originally ponds of water: but more than this, it suggests a new argument in the favor of the wisdom and goodness of that Diving Providence, which "changes the face of the earth," to supply the wants of man, as often as he changes from uncivilized nature, to a state of cultivation and refinement." (Collections of the The Massachusetts Historical Society.)

Carolyn Owen, former Old Colony Historical Society Archivist speculated on the mysterious disappearance: “Perhaps a great storm cut a swath through the embankment and drained the pond, it is one of nature’s curiosities where once King Philip rested and summered on the banks of a beautiful body of water and the tribe stocked to food to last through the long cold months ahead, there is now nothing left but the tall trees rising from a murky swamp.”

It is interesting to explore the connection between the location of the CCC worker's sighting of the monster snake and what that area was: A place King Philip called home. I personally have never heard of a disappearing lake. But if one was going to disappear, I am not surprised it vanished in the Bridgewater Triangle.

Almost every Bridgewater Triangle enthusiast knows this story. But there is much more to this legend. What Coleman didn't mention is that the King Philip's Street, located in Raynham (not Bridgewater), is home to the former summer camp of King Philip (hence the name of the street.)
King Philip's Street, Raynham, Photo by Kristen Good
In researching Fowling Pond recently, I was stunned when I stumbled across information that proved that Fowling Pond--a lake reported to have been a sizable body of water that mysteriously disappeared by the turn of the century--was on a tract of land now known as Pine Swamp. THIS, not Hockomock Swamp--as legend has it--is the true location of the Civil Conservation Corps workers terrifying sighting in the 1939.

Fowling Pond, I learned  (a very sacred spot to the Wampanoag) was the summer home of the great King Philip, Metacom, Chief of the Wampanoag Tribe, until the end of the war that was named after him; when he has shot, dismembered, his remains being intentionally scattered throughout southern Massachusetts so that his "soul would never rest." In times of peace Metacom spent many a summer night on the shores of Fowling pond in Raynham.
Fowling Pond--King Phillip's Summer home--was a pond the size of nearby Lake Nippenicket. But this lake mysteriously disappeared by the turn of the century. The spot where Fowling Pond was is located on King Philip's Street in Raynham is now a tract of land known as Pine Swamp. In the 1939,  CCC workers witnessed an enormous black snake that did not look indigenous to the area. Photo courtesy of the Old Colony Historical Society. All rights reserved.
Although Fowling Pond was the same size as nearby Lake Nip, this lake disappeared in less than a hundred years. By 1800, only small remnants of the pond remained. By the turn of the century, it had completely dried up to a swath of land known as Pine Swamp on King Philip's Street. In 1840, the following was included in a book called "Historical Collections of Massachusetts" by John Barber: "Fowling Pond, is itself a great curiosity. Before Philips' war it seems to have been a large pond, nearly two miles long and three quarters of a mile wide. Since then, the water is almost gone, and the large tract it once covered is grown up to a thick-set swamp of cedar and pine. That this, however, was once a large pond, haunted by fowls, and supplied with fish in great plenty, is more than probable, for here is found, upon dry land, a large quantity of white floor sand, and a great number of smooth stones, which are never found except on shores or places long washed by water."


"What could induce Philip to build his house here? It was undoubtedly, fishing and fowling, in this, then large pond. But more than than all, there is yet living in this town a man of more than ninety years old, who can well remember, than when he was a boy, he had frequently gone off in a canoe to fish in this pond; and says, that many a fish had been catched, where the pines and cedars are now more than fifty feet high. If an instance, at once so rare, and well attested, as this, should not be admitted as a curious scrap of the natural history of this country; yet it must be admitted as a strong analogical proof, that many of our swamps were originally ponds of water: but more than this, it suggests a new argument in the favor of the wisdom and goodness of that Diving Providence, which "changes the face of the earth," to supply the wants of man, as often as he changes from uncivilized nature, to a state of cultivation and refinement." (Collections of the The Massachusetts Historical Society.)


Carolyn Owen, former Old Colony Historical Society Archivist speculated on the mysterious disappearance: “Perhaps a great storm cut a swath through the embankment and drained the pond, it is one of nature’s curiosities where once King Philip rested and summered on the banks of a beautiful body of water and the tribe stocked to food to last through the long cold months ahead, there is now nothing left but the tall trees rising from a murky swamp.”


It is interesting to explore the connection between the location of the CCC worker's sighting of the monster snake and what that area was: A place King Philip called home. I personally have never heard of a disappearing lake. But if one was going to disappear, I am not surprised it vanished in the Bridgewater Triangle.

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