The New England region of the eastern United States is a place of deep history, struggle, and indeed many mysteries. Here we can find all manner of ghost stories and strange tales, and it is a wellspring of the paranormal and the bizarre. Among such tales are the many enigmatic and baffling rocks that dot the landscape here, which cover everything from historical oddities to the outlandishly paranormal.
One of the weirdest mystery rocks of the New England region supposedly lies at Glastenbury Mountain, also called Green Mountain, near Bennington, Vermont. The area has long been a treasure trove of strangeness, including mystery lights, ghosts, Bigfoot sightings, and other various unexplained phenomena, and the Native peoples of the region long avoided this as a cursed place. Perhaps most famously there was a series of bizarre disappearances that took place over a five-year period between 1945 and 1950, which have remained unsolved and have earned the region the ominous nickname “The Bennington Triangle.”
The first vanishing occurred in November of 1945, when experienced hunter and guide Middie Rivers was with a group of hunters when he rounded a bend and seemingly stepped right off the face of the earth. The only clue that would ever be found was a single bullet beside a stream. The following year, on December 1, 1946, 18-year-old Paula Jean Weldon was hiking at Glastonbury Mountain when she too vanished without a trace. Two witnesses reported being right behind her on the trail and reported that Weldon had rounded a corner, but when the couple reached the same spot the young woman was nowhere to be seen, and hasn’t been seen since, despite extensive searches.
The spate of unsolved disappearances continued in 1949, when in December of that year James E. Tetford boarded a bus bound for Bennington but never got off. His luggage and an open bus timetable were found, but Tetford has never been seen again, even though passengers remember seeing him on the bus when it departed, as if he just blinked out of existence. The following year, little 8-year old Paul Jepson was sitting in the family truck when his mother went to feed some pigs. When she returned he was gone, and an extensive search turned up no sign of him except a scent trail followed by dogs into the woods that just stopped. That same year Frieda Langer was hiking with her cousin near a place called Somerset Reservoir when she slipped and fell. She told her cousin to continue on and that she would catch up later but she never did, instead disappearing without a trace. Her body would be found several months later in an area that had been thoroughly searched, and it would be the last of the “Bennington Triangle” disappearances. I have gone into more detail on these vanishings here.
In the years since there have been theories on these vanishings too numerous to go into here, ranging from Bigfoot attacks, to UFOs, to interdimensional doorways, and everything in between, but one of the most unusual of these was put forward by the author and paranormal researcher Joseph Citro, who incidentally was the one who first coined the term “Bennington Triangle.” In his 2009 book The Vermont Monster Guide, Citro suggests that these people may have fallen victim to a mysterious carnivorous rock from Native folklore that was said to actually swallow people whole. According to legend it was a large boulder in appearance, but that if a person were to lean against or step upon its surface it would swiftly and hungrily absorb them, and Natives were very wary of the area because of this predatory boulder. Citro would write of this “Man-eating Rock” thus:
No one alive has seen this dangerous anomaly on Glastonbury Mountain. Native Americans knew of it, and warned people away. We can only imagine it as a sizable rock, large enough to stand on. But when someone stands upon it, the rock becomes less solid, and, like a living thing, swallows the unfortunate trespasser. A number of disappearances have been reported on Glastonbury Mountain. Could all these vanished folks have stepped inadvertently on this hungry stone?
While the Man-eating Rock of Glastenbury Mountain may only exist in myth and legend, there are other mysterious rocks in New England that are very much real, if no less enigmatic. Equally wreathed in spooky legends and folklore is a large rock located in North Manchester, Maine, that according to legend holds the footprints of the Devil himself. The rock itself appears to have imprinted within it three footprints, with two looking human and another appearing as if it is a cloven hoof. The story behind this strange anomaly is that as the first early settlers of Manchester were trying to build a road through the area they encountered many large boulders and rocks blocking their path.
According to the tales, somewhere in the vicinity of what is now the Case Cemetery, the construction workers came across a particularly intimidating and massive boulder. All attempts to move it proved fruitless, and the crew became worried that they wouldn’t be able to go through it at all, that it would thwart the whole project, so one of the workers purportedly proclaimed that he would sell his soul if that damned rock would just get out of their way. Apparently, the next day the rock was indeed moved some distance away, and etched upon it were those footprints as a record of the deal. Spookily, the man who had “sold his soul” was nowhere to be found, gone without a trace. The footprints themselves, with two human-like and one cloven, have been explained as either those of the Devil changing shape, or more sinisterly evidence etched in stone of the demon chasing the man to claim his payment in souls.
This may all sound like pure folklore, but the cemetery whose wall the rock in question in now a part of has had its fair share of paranormal happenings over the years. Sudden temperature drops, shadowy figures, and strange sounds and lights coming from the cemetery are par for the course, more often than not right in the vicinity of the anomalous rock. That cemetery has actually become quite a hotbed of the paranormal, and one wonders if the “Devil’s footprint” has anything to do with it. Whatever the case may be it is a spooky legend to be sure.
Other mystery rocks seem to represent anomalous history and hint at the existence of mysterious ancient peoples. One of the most well-known of these is a massive 40-ton, 11-foot long boulder originally located in the riverbed of the Taunton River at Berkley, Massachusetts, which is covered in ancient petroglyphs and writing of unknown origin that have been baffling experts for centuries. The rock was described in Rev. Cotton Mather’s 1690 book The Wonderful Works of God Commemorated thus:
Among the other Curiosities of New-England, one is that of a mighty Rock, on a perpendicular side whereof by a River, which at High Tide covers part of it, there are very deeply Engraved, no man alive knows How or When about half a score Lines, near Ten Foot Long, and a foot and half broad, filled with strange Characters: which would suggest as odd Thoughts about them that were here before us, as there are odd Shapes in that Elaborate Monument.
The origins of the geometric shapes, drawings, and writing etched upon the rock are just as much a mystery today as they were back then. In 1963 Dighton Rock was removed and placed in a museum at nearby Dighton State Park for preservation and study, and despite being analyzed by numerous scientists and archeologists over the years, no one is really certain who made the markings or what they mean. The petroglyphs have managed to elude understanding, its writings and symbols undecipherable, and the rock has sparked all manner of speculation, ranging from the rational to the decidedly fringe, such as that they were left by pre-Columbian Norse, Phoenician, Portuguese, or Chinese explorers, that they were merely made by the Native people of the area, or even that they were made by aliens or were an actual message from God. In the end, no one knows, and the Dighton Rock has gone on to become a legendary unsolved mystery.
Somewhat similar to Dighton Rock is another large boulder located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, called the Quidnessett Rock, or also the Narragansett Runestone. Discovered half-buried in the mud flats of Narragansett Bay in 1984, the 2.5 ton boulder is not nearly as large as the Dighton Rock, but it similarly bears numerous strange symbols or runes of mysterious origins. The stone has gone on to be studied by various institutes such as the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission (HPHC), the New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA), and the University of Rhode Island School of Oceanography, but answers have remained evasive to say the least.
Theories include that it is some sort of ancient pre-Columbian Viking carvings or that it was a marker created by The Knights Templar in ancient times, but it is far from clear, and the stone has drawn in droves of curiosity seekers over the years. So many people came to the mud flats looking for the rock, in fact, that one local man actually stole it in 2012 and dropped it into deeper waters for the purpose of keeping the tourists away. The rune stone was eventually recovered the following year and put on display at Updike Park, in the quiet village of Wickford, where it has continued to puzzle all who try to understand it. Making matters of its origins murkier is that in 2014 a man named Everett Brown came forward to say the markings on the Narragansett stone were a practical joke carried out by him and his brother in 1964, although this has been disputed and is likely a hoax itself.
Yet another mysterious rock is a strange object that was dug up one day in 1872 as a fence post was being bored out at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, on the land of an influential local man named Seneca Ladd. What baffled workers pulled out of the ground that day was a brown, egg-shaped rock measuring about 4 inches long and 2.5 inches thick, encased in clay and covered with carvings of abstract shapes like inverted arrows, a moon shape, and some spirals and dots, as well as various objects such as an ear of corn and a human face, the meanings of which are a complete mystery, as is who made it and why. Through the whole thing is a single hole bored all the way through it from top to bottom and created by two different sized bits for reasons just as inscrutable as anything else about the artifact.
Ladd himself took full credit for the discovery, even though he had had no hand in actually finding it, put it on display, and thought it to be some relic of a mysterious Native tribe. The strange rock was in his possession until his death, after which it was donated to the New Hampshire Historical Society in 1927 and finally properly studied, although such analysis has found no clear answers. It remains unknown just what the strange relic’s origin, purpose, or even its age is, although some have speculated that the hole through it may have been made with power tools in the 20th century. Other than that, no one really has a clue as to what the Lake Winnipesaukee mystery stone is, and the answer may be forever buried in history.
What mysteries do these rocks hold within them that we have yet uncovered? What forces led to their creation and where do their origins lie? We have yet to understand them, and they serve to remain mysterious ciphers amongst the landscape of the weird in New England. Being the rocks that they are they will no doubt be around for some time, forever taunting us and baffling us until long after we are gone, remaining there as inscrutable as always, perhaps until the end of time.