This article is dedicated to Kerri Harrison, who always liked the paranormal and the unexplained. Goodbye my friend. We will miss you.
Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places. For them are the catacombs of Ptolemais, and the carven mausolea of the nightmare countries. They climb to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles, and falter down black cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities in Asia. The haunted wood and the desolate mountain are their shrines, and they linger around the sinister monoliths on uninhabited islands. But the true epicure in the terrible, to whom a new thrill of unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteems most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England; for there the dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness, and ignorance combine to form the perfection of the hideous. - H.P. Lovecraft, (“The Picture in the House”, 12 December 1920)
I inhaled the glorious scent of burning leaves as I flew across the gray Halloween sky. Below, farmhouse porches were festooned with pumpkins. I caught sight of a scarecrow’s tattered clothing blowing in the wind, and was quickly reminded why the New England Colonies are the Halloween capital of the United States. “No way,” you say? “There are scarier places in America.” To that I say, “Poppycock and fiddlesticks!” “New Orleans?” Eh, it’s creepy but we’ve got Voodoo zombies too. “Sleepy Hollow?” Come on. It’s right next door. Heck, the Horseman's domain is so close it might as well be New England. “Washington DC?" Okay, yeah, maybe you’ve got a point there.
Anywho, here are some reasons why New England is the “Transylvania” of America…
Witches – Do I really need to elaborate? Nowadays, Salem is Halloween central as far as tourism goes, and there's a reason for that (besides $$$). In ye olde days terrible things happened in Salem Village (now known as Danvers) and even worse things happened in Salem Essex County aka the city of Salem - the Salem Witch Trials and the hangings at Gallows Hill - http://historyofmassachusetts.org/where-is-the-real-gallows-hill/ Oh, but Salem wasn’t all she wrote for witches. There were many other incidents. Heck, even the ghosts of vengeful witches can come back to get you in Haunted New England - http://altereddimensions.net/2013/harrisville-haunting-perron-warren-family-conjuring-movie
Vampires – A genuine vampire scare took hold of New England a little over 100 years ago. Mercy Brown, Sarah Tillinghast, and Fredrick Ransom are but a few names associated with the eerie vampire cases that occurred throughout 19th century New England. Bodies were exhumed. Hearts were removed and burned in order to dispatch the Undead. Like I said, New England is the Transylvania of the United States. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_England_vampire_panic
Werewolves – Long ago, colonists from France settled in what is now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. This was known as the colony of Acadia. Many of these Acadian settlers eventually moved to Maine and brought their folklore along with them. Acadian tales of assorted unnatural beings spread to certain parts of Maine. The worst of these fell creatures was the Loup Garou (which is the French term for werewolf). Unwary travelers and naughty children were warned that the Loup Garou lurked in the cold Maine night – http://www.pressherald.com/archive/three-scary-stories-youll-want-to-share_2008-10-21.html
And it apparently it still does - http://www.cryptomundo.com/bigfoot-report/werewolves-in-maine-2/
Ghosts – You can’t throw a rock without hitting a spectral entity in New England. Ghosts haunt the old mansions up Newport way - http://voices.yahoo.com/haunted-america-ghosts-belcourt-castle-newport-423804.html. They haunt lighthouses - http://www.damnedct.com/new-london-ledge-lighthouse/. Heck, they even haunt the local pubs (Can you blame ‘em for wahmin’ up with a hot toddy? It gets pretty cold out heah) - http://books.google.com/books?id=iSxu4CFxliYC&pg=PA62&lpg=PA62&dq=crocker+tavern+haunted&source=bl&ots=BVero-F1G4&sig=U0jqQd2APuxqM-4RmtnlvoKtUzM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=wJxyUpfKLpHA4APNh4CoBQ&ved=0CFIQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=crocker%20tavern%20haunted&f=false
For fun, let’s pick a ghost-ridden New England state. How about New Hampshire? - http://www.newhampshire.com/article/99999999/NEWHAMPSHIRE08/110429758
Dr. Frankenstein – “Oh come on!” you exclaim. “There can’t be a Frankenstein too!” Oh, but I’m afraid there was. He lived up in Hammond Castle over in Gloucester, Massachusetts and went by the name John Hays Hammond, Jr. Hammond holds the second highest number of invention patents after Thomas Edison. His home, Hammond Castle, was created in the style of a Medeival castle and even houses its own laboratory.
Among other things, Hammond was fascinated with the occult - http://historyofmassachusetts.org/john-hammond-jr-conducted-telepathic-experiments-at-hammond-castle/
He was also really into preserving dead cats in formaldehyde - http://www.thecabinet.com/darkdestinations/location.php?sub_id=dark_destinations&location_id=hammond_castle
Perhaps slightly more disturbing are the persistent rumors that he performed unspeakable “reanimation” experiments with dead bodies. Though no records exist to prove this, the rumors have not stopped.
Zombies – Terrible things have happened in the Freetown State Forest. People say that Satanic sacrifices and rituals took (take?) place there, and many other horrors are said to lurk within its shadowy confines. Most peculiar of all are the zombie sightings. Shambling, silent, mindless zombies have reportedly been seen in and around the forest - http://www.neparanormalresearch.com/apps/forums/topics/show/1393956
The Bridgewater Triangle - Speaking of the Freetown State Forest, it’s part of the dreadful Bridgewater Triangle. Puckwudgies (evil Native American elves or gnomes), ghosts, UFOs, spook lights, gigantic snakes, Bigfoot, phantom dogs with red eyes, the Thuderbird, and much more are said to inhabit this nether-zone of paranormal activity - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridgewater_Triangle
And - http://www.neparanormalresearch.com/hauntedhistory.htm
Lizzie Borden –
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
To this day, the morbid Lizzie Borden rhyme can be heard in eastern Massachusetts schoolyards. The infamous ax murder happened in Fall River, Massachusetts.
There are whispers of demonic influence. Apparently, another horrible murder took place in the same house years earlier -
You can go to Lizzie's old (haunted) house and spend the night if you dare - http://lizzie-borden.com/
The Dover Demon – This bizarre creature terrified the residents of Dover, Massachusetts in 1977 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dover_Demon
Collinwood – Lots of scary stories, movies, and shows are set in New England. The accursed town of Collinsport, Maine was the setting of the classic 1960s gothic TV series, “Dark Shadows.” The brooding Collinwood mansion was “portrayed” by Seaview Terrace aka the Carey Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seaview_Terrace The place is haunted of course - http://www.syfy.com/stranded/article/location_facts/page/3
Sea Monsters – Hammond Castle isn’t the only scary thing in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The Gloucester Sea Serpent paid a visit to jolly olde New England back in the 19th century. Scores of witnesses saw the creature. http://open.salon.com/blog/rick_spilman/2009/08/19/the_great_gloucester_sea_serpent_of_1817 There's a famous lake monster as well. The Lake Champlain Monster, affectionately known as Champ, makes its home in Vermont.
Cursed Towns – It is said that tragic Dudley Town Connecticut was cursed. CURSED, I say. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/10/1030_021030_BirdersJournal.html
Mystery Hill – America’s Stonehenge? In New Hampshire? Yep. There’s even a sacrificial table (maybe). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America's_Stonehenge
The Devil – “The Devil and Daniel Webster” is, of course, set in New Hampshire. However, Old Scratch apparently visited some of the other colonies as well - http://www.quahog.org/factsfolklore/index.php?id=91
Famous horror writers: Baltimore claims Poe. Richmond claims Poe. Well, guess what? Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston. Oh, Boston doesn’t boast about it because Poe and Boston were sort of like oil and water, but it’s very true. He was born near Commonwealth Avenue. Indeed, Poe’s first book of poems was entitled “Tamerlane and Other Poems Poems by a Bostonian.”
Alas, there’s a whole sordid history between Poe and Boston: http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2011/03/06/quoth_the_detective/?page=full
Only recently has the city starting acknowledging its native son: http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/beacon_hill/2012/04/life-size_poe_statue_chosen_to.html
Another fair New England city, Providence, doesn't have as much of a problem acknowledging its own literary icon, H.P. Lovecraft. http://www.providencejournal.com/topics/photos/featured/20130824-gallery-a-lovecraftian-waterfire.ece
Ever hear of Stephen King? Bangor, Maine? Yep, that’s definitely in New England. King sets most of his stories in northern New England to boot.
Nathaniel Hawthorne hailed from Salem, Massachusetts. In fact, his ancestor John Hathorne was a judge in the witch trials. Hawthorne's tales of dark romanticism and terror are essential reading in many schools.
Shirley Jackson settled in Vermont and remained there until she died. Both "The Lottery" and "The Haunting of Hill House" were published during her time there.
But wait, there are many up and coming scribes of the strange here too: http://nehw.blogspot.com/
And THAT, my Dreary One, is just the tip of the ol’ witch hat! Of course, there's Edward Gorey, a haunted opera house, bats with human faces and, well, there’s so much more to tell but there isn’t any time left. I'm expected in cursed Dudley Town tonight and mustn’t dally any longer.
I hope you have a marvelous Halloween, and if you find yourself traveling on a dark New England road some foggy night, beware the ghosts, witches, vampires, werewolves, and the overexcited Red Sox fans.