In 1952, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorrain Warren founded the New England Society for Physic Research. The pair investigated over 10,000 cases of paranormal activity around the U.S., the most famous being a haunting in Amityville, Long Island, an event that later inspired the book and film The Amityville Horror. The Warrens also investigated a series of odd and disturbing events that took place in a Rhode Island farmhouse in 1971, a case that inspired the 2013 horror film The Conjuring.
Sorting through the facts, myths, and half-truths surrounding the 1692 witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, is enough to keep any historian or “bard of the bizarre” content for years. However, the 17th century witch-hunt is only a precursor to the number of strange tales and curiosities found in New England. Puritan cemeteries, haunted inns, ghost ships, abandoned settlements, H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King –this is just a small sampling of what’s discovered in a region known as much for its legends and folklore as it is its clapboard houses and Ivy League schools. Below are 7 haunted destinations in New England.
7. Pine Hill Cemetery: Hollis, New Hampshire
Nicknamed Blood Cemetery, this bucolic plot in Hollis, NH, holds over 300 hundred gravestones, many of which date back to the 1700s. Ghostly apparitions, floating orbs, strange tapping sounds, and other anomalies have been reported at Pine Hill Cemetery. Pine Hill gets its nickname after the ghost who’s believed to haunt the graveyard –a lost but non-malevolent spirit named Abel Blood.
Abel Blood, a devout Christian and family man, was buried in Pine Hill in 1867, next to his wife, Betsy. While some local accounts claim the “Blood” family was murdered, others state this is only a rumor that began with the first ghost sightings. What’s not contested, however, is the odd phenomenon that is said to take place on Abel Blood’s headstone. There’s a hand carved into the stone –the index finger pointing upward towards heaven. According to legend, the headstone is said to change color at night, and the index finger points down.
6. Fairfield Inn: Kennebunkport, Maine
There’s a long history of haunted hotels in America. From the Provincial Hotel in New Orleans to the Heathmen Hotel in Portland, Oregon, guests are quick to report moving objects, voices, rapping, tapping, cold spots, or anything else that goes bump in the night. Historically, Kennebunkport is a shipbuilding and fishing village. Over the last century, however, it’s been turned into a summer colony for the affluent.
The village’s 18th and 19th century mansions, stately Federalist and Georgian-style homes that belonged to wealthy sea captains and maritime traders, have been transformed into inns and Bed and Breakfasts. Captain James Fairfield reportedly haunts his former home in Kennebunkport, which is now the Captain Fairfied Inn. According to the Kennebunkport Historical Society, James Fairfield became ill and died 5 years after he built the mansion on the corner of Pleasant and Green Street; he was only 38 years old. Supposedly, Captain James Fairfield has been wandering his old house since his death in 1820, but his ghost is most often seen hovering in the basement.
5. Emily’s Bridge: Stowe, Vermont
Vermont has more haunted inns that anywhere in New England –the Norwich Inn, Brass Lantern, and Old Stagecoach Inn are just a few examples –but Emily’s Bridge, in Stowe, is the best-known Vermont legend. The Gold Brook covered bridge was built in 1844, and it’s more commonly referred to as “Emily’s Bridge” due to a ghost named Emily who is believed to haunt it.
There are conflicting stories as to how Emily died at the bridge. Once story claims that Emily was supposed to elope with a lover she was meeting (covered bridges, also known as “Kissing Bridges,” were often secret meeting spots) and when he didn’t show, she hung herself from the rafters. Another version contends that Emily’s groom never showed up on their wedding day; in a fit of jilted rage, Emily took the family’s wagon to confront him, but in going too fast she failed to negotiate a turn. She drove the carriage into the brook and died in the accident. Paranormal activity on Emily’s Bridge includes strange sounds, such as banging, footsteps, and ropes tightening. People have also reported a white apparition as well as scratch marks appearing on their vehicles.
4. Dogtown: Gloucester, Massachusetts
Dogtown is an isolated colonial ruin and 3,000-acre woodland plateau located between Gloucester and Rockport in Cape Ann, Massachusetts. Roughly 100 families established a Common’s Settlement in the area 1642; the settlement was located inland, and therefore sheltered and protected from pirates and the British Navy. However, after the War of 1812 coastal areas became safer, and the Dogtown settlement declined and disappeared. Only a handful of vagabonds, eccentrics, and war widows remained, and the area quickly gained a reputation for witchcraft; the feral dogs the women kept for protection gave the area its name.
Dogtown -with its tales of witches, supernatural sightings, drifters, pirates, and former slavers -has long held a powerful influence over artists, writers, and historians. The area’s peculiar landscape, eerily isolated and strewn with large boulders and rocks deposited from the ice age, seems to sharpen and magnify Dogtown’s legends. There’s a network of half-abadoned trails and numbered boulders marking the “cellar holes” of the former settlement. American artist Marsden Hartley described the landscape of Dogtown “as a cross between Stonehenge and Easter Island,” and poet Charles Olson based much of his epic Maximus Poems on Dogtown. In 1984, a brutal murder took place in Dogtown: a local homeless man crushed the skull of a schoolteacher as she was walking her dog. The murderer claimed he killed the woman because a spirit in the woods called out to him.
3. Dudleyville: Cornwall, Connecticut
Dudleyville (also as known as Dudley Town) is an abandoned Connecticut settlement and widely considered to be one of the most haunted place in America. Originally settled in 1738, the residents of Dudleyville fell victim to what’s described as “The Curse.” People in the village were feared and looked upon suspiciously because of the violent deaths, odd accidents, and the high number of suicides and cases of insanity that befell the town. After a while, nobody wanted to live in Dudleyville and the village became a ghost town. The Dark Entry Forest Association owns Dudleyville, and visitors need permission to enter the settlement, which isn’t normally granted. However, those who’ve visited Dudleyville claim there are no animals in the surrounding woods or birds singing in the trees, and phrases like negative physic energy and evil vortex are regularly used to describe the area.
2. Danvers State Hospital, Massachusetts
The Danvers State Hospital was built in 1874 on Hathorne Hill, a 25-foot glacial drumlin where the Salem Witch Trials judge John Hathorne once lived. While Danvers was once a rural, out-of-the-way location (20 miles north of Boston), Route 1 now passes Hathorne Hill, and while all that’s left of the hospital is the Gothic-style Kirkbride building, rumor has it that when driving past, Massachusetts parents tell their children that if they don’t behave, they’re going to end at up at Witch Mountain.
Asylums are imposing places. The 700,000-sqaure foot Danvers State Hospital featured four wings radiating off a central Gothic-style building, which made the hospital look like a bat. While it was Kirkbride’s belief that the design would help cure more patients and eliminate “the darkest, most cheerless and worst ventilated parts,” it only added to the hospital’s sinister and foreboding appearance. By the 1930s, overcrowding and a lack of funding plagued the state hospital; the level of care deteriorated and lobotomies, shock therapy, and “special garments” were used to control the large number of patients, which is believed to have reached over 2,000.
The Danvers State Hospital was closed in 1992, and much to the delight of ghost hunters, paranormal enthusiasts, and teenagers looking for a good scare in the building’s rotting hallways and tunnel systems, it remained vacant until 2005. Avalon Bay Development purchased the hospital for $12 million and eventually turned it into an upscale apartment complex.
The massive, red-brick landmark has been given many names over the years: The Castle on the Hill; The Palace on the Hill; The Haunted Castle; The Witches Castle. Due to its ominous appearance and horrific history, the Danvers Sate Hospital has been featured in films, books and video games. The 2001 horror movie Sessions 9 was filmed on location, and Home Before Dark (1958) features exterior shots of the Kirkbride building. In 2004, the hospital was featured in the video game Painkiller. The Kirkbride building is also said to be the inspiration for the Arkham Sanitarium in H.P. Lovecraft’s short stories.
1. Bridgewater Triangle, Massachusetts
There’s no haunted place in the Commonwealth more famous than the Bridgewater Triangle. Reports of paranormal activity date to pre-colonial times, and it’s the breadth and variation of these reports that have inspired hundreds of ghost hunters to pack their Dowsing Rods and electro-magnetic field meters and head to New England. The towns of Abington, Rehoboth, and Freeport are the Bridgewater Triangle’s focal points, and the entire hotspot encompasses 200-square miles of southeastern Massachusetts.
Reports of paranormal activity in the Bridgewater Triangle include poltergeists, balls of fire, mysterious drumming, Big Foot and UFO sightings, hitchhiking ghosts, the ghosts of indians and Revolutionary War soldiers, and a Mothman-like bird creature with a 10-foot wingspan. Many of the mysterious occurrences revolve around Hockomock Swamp, a 16,550-acre wetland located in the Freetown Fall River State Forest, and a place the Wampanoag Indians believed was a sacred site. Profile Rock, a 50-foot granite formation shaped like the profile of an Indian, is located in the state forest. The Hockomock Swamp is known to serve as a dumping ground for murder victims, and reports of cults practicing black magic in the area go back to the days of the Salem witch trials.
As Dante famously said: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”