Haunted Places In New England
By E. A. Black
New England is a hotbed of ghost activity. Whether you like unsolved murders or hiking in a haunted woods, there are plenty of locations where the veil between this world and the otherworldly meet. Here are a few of those places.
Lizzie Borden House – This notorious house in Fall River, Massachusetts hosts the second most famous unsolved murder in the world. The first is Jack the Ripper. It's easy to understand why Lizzie might have done what she was accused of doing because the house, although neatly furnished and quaint, is cramped and there is little room for privacy. Lizzie's skinflint father refused to move to a larger home, which he could have afforded. She was supposedly quite angry over it. After she was acquitted of murdering her father and stepmother, she moved a few miles away to the rambling Maplecroft mansion, to which she was much more suited. Maplecroft is also open to tours but I don't believe the place is purported to be haunted. The Lizzie Borden house now operates as a bed and breakfast, and it is reportedly haunted by her father, Andrew Borden, and the most commonly experienced ghost, her stepmother, Abbie Borden. She is heard yelling, supposedly reinacting her death. Lizzie is also alleged to haunt the house, appearing in the basement.
Snedeker House – Southington, Connecticut. Ed and Lorraine Warren made this house and the story behind it famous in their self-appointed roles as demonologists. The residence used to be a mortuary but the Snedeker family moved in and called it home. The family consisted of Allen and Carmen Snedeker and their three sons, daughter, and two nieces. However, not long after moving in violent and horrific events began to occur including sexual attacks, apparitions, and disturbing personality changes in Matt, the eldest son who had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. It turned out that Matt admitted to being behind much of the alleged haunting. Horror writer Ray Garton was hired to write a book based on this case and he railed into the phony Warrens. When Garton questioned the validity of what the Snedekers were telling him about their alleged demonic experiences including conflicting testimony, Ed Warren told him to ignore all that and just make things up. Despite the entire business being an outright lie, the story became a popular hit movie "The Haunting in Connecticut". For more on Ray Garton and the Warrens, please read my interview with him at The Horror Zine.
Ocean-Born Mary House – The story of how Mary was born at sea and a pirate saved her life and the rest of the people on board ship when the child's parents named her after his mother is true. The haunting is not. There is a wonderful yet fake story about how a couple dropped by the house and were given a tour by a tall, attractive woman with red hair. It turned out no one was home at the time, and the description of the woman fit a description of Mary. She was a ghost who gave a tour of her own home! Sadly, this story is not true. Mary never even lived in the house in Henniker, New Hampshire. She lived a few miles away. A man who bought the house was a bit of a marketing genius who kept the "legend" alive by charging admission and telling ghostly stories himself. He even charged a small fee for tourists to rent shovels to dig on the property for the rumored pirate treasure supposedly buried there that no one has ever found.
Dogtown, Massachusetts – This five-mile stretch of woods straddling Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts is the home of an abandoned Colonial settlement. All that remain of this ghost town are granite cellar holes of about a dozen houses. The area got its name when the male residents moved from Dogtown to the coast to enter the fishing industry and to go to war. Women were left behind with dogs to protect them, hence the moniker "Dogtown". Others left behind included gypsies, war widows, former slaves, and the poor. Some of the women were said to be witches, including Tammy Younger, referred to as the Queen of the Witches. She charged a toll to anyone who dared to come close to her property. Younger accepted fish as payment, otherwise she would put a curse on those who refused to abide by her demands. Strange goings on include bizarre equipment failures and an eerie silence throughout the forest. A large cat (thought to be a mountain lion) was supposedly seen on the grounds. Werewolves were also said to haunt the place. An apparition of a woman dressed in black is said to roam Dogtown only to disappear when approached. It is said to have been the location of a few suicides. A schoolteacher was murdered in Dogtown in 1984. Her husband found her there with her skull crushed in. A man known to wander the woods was convicted of her murder. Dogtown is popular with mountain bikers and hikers. Babson boulders with sayings such as "Truth", "Intelligence", and "Courage" are scattered throughout the area. These boulders were carved and placed in the 1930s. I live near Dogtown and I've walked through it several times. It's very secluded and even peaceful albeit quite spooky. I made the mistake of hiking through Dogtown immediately after watching "The Blair Witch Project" and scared myself silly. There are several paths to take through Dogtown. I recommend the one by Cherry Street in Gloucester that takes you directly to Dogtown Common (the former town's center) and some of the Babson boulders. Park your car and then go for a walk. Just don't do it after dark, not so much because of ghosts but because it's very easy to get lost.
Danvers State Hospital –Danvers State Hospital was built in Danvers, Massachusetts in the 1880s and initially served mentally ill children, but things took a turn for the worse in the 1920s. The place became known as a snake pit. It is said the prefrontal lobotomy was invented there. Phantom foot steps have been heard and shadows have followed investigators. There has been only one reported apparition which appeared to Jeralyn Levasseur who claimed a ghost pulled the sheets off her bed when she was a child. The ghost took on the appearance of an older, scowling woman. The horror film Session 9 was filmed here before the place was torn down. What remains of the hospital was turned into luxury apartments.
Betty and Barney Hill Site – Betty and Barney Hill were the first reported couple who claimed that they had been abducted by aliens and they said aliens had experimented on them. Their experiences took place in 1961 and they include lost time, nightmares, grey aliens, and alien experiments upon their bodies. Much of their experiences were discovered through hypnosis. The Hill's alien abduction claims introduced the culture to the phenomenon as we know it today. Their fateful journey can be traced down US 664 and Route 3 in Kingston, New Hampshire and is commemorated with a sign. The Hill's story was turned into a movie, The UFO Incident, which starred James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons.
Hoosic Tunnel – This railroad tunnel in North Adams, western Massachusetts is supposedly haunted by the hundreds of men who died while it was under construction. It is popularly known as "The Bloody Pit". One of the more chilling stories involved thirteen men who were trapped in the tunnel following an explosion. While rescuers were certain no one survived, months later workers discovered that some had actually lived for a brief period of time, creating a makeshift raft to deal with flooding. Trains do use this tunnel so be careful if you travel there.
Houghton Mansion - Also located in North Adams, Massachusetts, this sprawling home was built in 1890 and was home for a time to the Masonic temple. Ghosts include A. C. Houghton, a suicide victim, and the ghost of Houghton's daughter Mary who died in a car accident in 1914. Incidents in the mansion include disembodied footsteps and doors opening and closing by themselves when no one else was in the building aside of the person who witnessed the events.
Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, Salem, New Hampshire – This building was home to the town jail before it was converted into a restaurant. You may request a table inside one of the jail cells. I recall a story written by a man who had stayed there in the drunk tank when the place was a jail. He returned when it became a restaurant and requested his old cell – but with the gate left open. A ghost named George supposedly throws food, moves furniture and table utensils, drinks unattended beverages, and in general makes a nuisance of himself, but I've never run into him. The history of the building is fascinating enough without adding ghosts to the story. The food isn't bad considering this is a chain restaurant. The prices are fair. Just remember to ask your server to turn up the lights when you dine there. The last time I went the light was so dim it was hard to see our food.
Whether you want to dine in a jail cell or sleep in the room where Lizzie Borden's stepmother met her fateful end, there are plenty of spooky places in New England where you may satisfy your penchant for weirdness. Most are open to the public. Dress your best and take a walk on the wild side!
E. A. Black had enjoyed telling scary stories to a captive audience since she was a child. She grew up in Baltimore, the home of Edgar Allan Poe who has inspired her to write. Due to her love for horror and dark fiction she joined Broad Universe, a networking group for women who write speculative fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Zippered Flesh 2, Zippered Flesh 3, Teeming Terrors, Midnight Movie Creature Feature 2, Wicked Tales: The Journal of the New England Horror Writers Vol. 3, Heart of Farkness, and more. She won a Best Short Story mention on The Solstice List@ 2017: The Best Of Horror for Invisible, which appeared in Zippered Flesh 3. She has written author interviews and fiction for The Horror Zine using her real name, Trish Wilson. The Horror Zine won first place for Best Fiction Magazine/e-zine, Best Poetry Magazine/e-zine and Best Magazine/e-zine Editor at the 2020 Preditors and Editors poll. Her horror story The Storm shall appear in The Horror Zine's Book of Ghost Stories in 2020. In addition to horror, she writes erotica and romance as Elizabeth Black. Friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, where she posts as Elizabeth Black. Check out her web site at http://eablack-writer.blogspot.com. Sign up for her newsletter: http://eepurl.com/b76GWD She lives on the Massachusetts coast in Lovecraft country. The beaches often call to her, but she has yet to run into Cthulhu.