I wasn’t sure when I’d ever make it back to New England until the lure of the other Dave’s recent surprise birthday party (featured in my last post) unexpectedly made it this year. Sure, the timing could’ve been better but I was grateful for a chance to return; not just to see friends but also more of Massachusetts which has intrigued me since my first visit back in 2010. And how could it not? “The Old Colony State” is rich in American history with some of our country’s oldest and most sinister roots stretching just below the surface of its otherwise beautiful landscapes. It’s a State with the type of scenic countenance and coastal charms a Midwesterner like myself often pines for. Yet, despite its allure, Massachusetts unnerves me with a subtle creepiness I can feel if not adequately explain. I’m not sure why that is considering I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and am certainly not naïve to my own city’s spooky tales and violent past (nor present I might add). I guess for me visiting New England is like stepping into an old attic loaded with strange relics, musty memories, and a glimpse of an ominous history we grazed over in school. In keeping with that metaphor, Massachusetts is like the old, locked trunk sitting in its darkest corner. This year I decided to pull back some of the cobwebs and use the party as an opportunity to covertly visit and explore a series of sites in Massachusetts that are all part of its infamous Bridgewater Triangle. If you live outside of New England, you’ve probably never heard of it but, for many of the locals, it’s arguably more notorious than Salem itself.
The Bridgewater Triangle is a term coined back in 1983 by Loren Coleman in his book Mysterious America. It refers to two-hundred square miles framed in a polygon by three Massachusetts towns: Abington, Rehoboth, and Freetown. Though it’s a rather loose boundary and strange occurrences have been known to stretch beyond its perimeter, few people interested in the paranormal will argue that within the triangle is a veritable buffet of the unexplained. Sightings include that of UFO’s, Bigfoot, Thunderbirds, ghosts, and even troll-like creatures called Pukwudgies to name a few. In short, I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be sequestered while preparing for David’s party.
In fact, he was the one who brought the Triangle to my attention in the first place. A few years back he alerted me to a documentary simply titled The Bridgewater Triangle (2013) but, unfortunately, I never got around to watching it. The whole thing completely slipped my mind until this past February when he mentioned him and his girlfriend unsuccessfully trying to locate one of its most notorious features, the Hockomock Swamp. Yes, I laughed when I first heard that name too as it sounds more like a Dr. Seuss setting rather than a place of supernatural horror but, rest assured, it’s no joke. Long before the white man set foot in these parts, the name was given by the Wampanoag Indians and means “place where spirits dwell.” In that regard, it’s likely the Native Americans knew what they were talking about as early European settlers would later refer to it as “the Devil Swamp” and still today many believe it’s the very heart of the Triangle’s unusual energy.
Aside from being the largest freshwater swamp in Massachusetts, Hockomock also played a role in King Phillips War; a violent skirmish between the Indians and colonials that raged from 1675-1678. This was the first known battle between Native Americans and European settlers and also one of the bloodiest with even the women and children routinely slaughtered on both sides. Today it’s not unusual for people to wind up missing in its expanse nor for it to be the backdrop of numerous cryptid sightings including the most famous one of all, Bigfoot.
When I discovered that the Triangle documentary was now streaming on Amazon Prime, I no longer had any excuse but to watch it. As soon as it was over, I wanted to kick myself for not seeing it sooner. It was well executed and provided a neat history lesson of the area while offering testimonials of some of its strange occurrences. Though some of these witness accounts are often fantastic, they were done by credible-sounding people. Needless to say, I’d never been more excited to get back out East and was determined to locate the swamp myself. The only problem was I didn’t want to venture into the Triangle’s hotspots alone and my fellow Terror Dave couldn’t know I was there. But was he really my last hope?
Enter Jef Taylor…
Jef was not only a fellow zoo pal (he’s from Zoo New England) whom I’d hung out with at AAZK conferences, he was also a monster kid like me who loved cryptozoology, scary movies, checking out weird places, and exploring nature. In other words, he was as much a Terror Dave as a Jef could possibly be! He and I already planned to spend that Saturday touring his zoo and he was a great sport when I brought up the idea of investigating the Triangle. Although he lives in Massachusetts, he’d never heard of it before and was eager to check it out. That’s what I like about Jef. I could have asked him to help me track down a three-headed cow wearing a tutu and instead of asking if I’m crazy or being serious, he’ll enthusiastically reply, “Sure!” Thankfully, finding Hockomock would be no exception.
Now that I had an auxiliary “Dave,”I was determined to succeed where the real one failed and locate that damned swamp! I figured the best place to start was where he left off and reviewed the email where he discussed it with me last February…
We encountered one problem after another. First off, every time we tried to look up information online on how to get there and where to park, the computer would freeze up. Then we were able to figure out the general location and drove there. While in the area we tried to look up on both of our phones more detailed information and both Google and Bing would also freeze up, not letting us find out anything. We drove around the perimeter of the swamp and could not find one entry point for parking. When we finally got back on the home computer we had no problems accessing information, most of which was warnings to stay away from the Swamp because of how dangerous it is. Weird, huh?
Yes, David, very weird but also very enticing. If technology was a bust, then perhaps it was time to summon the supernatural forces of social media instead. Having nothing to lose, I sent a message to The Bridgewater Triangle documentary Facebook page and expressed my interest in doing a story for this site as well as an upcoming magazine article (either a new “Terror Daves Weird USA” column in Scary Monsters Magazine or for a new magazine I’ve started writing for which I’ll discuss at a later date). To my surprise, I received a quick reply from the documentary’s writer and co-director, Aaron Cadieux himself. Aaron not only agreed to help us find the swamp but offered to meet with us at the Freetown State Forest for an interview. It was such an honor because, as mentioned, the documentary was top notch and he’s a busy guy working on other projects. He even hooked us up with some great swag; blu-rays and shirts. Having just won the Bridgewater Triangle sweepstakes, it was now time to do my homework.
For the next six weeks, I immersed myself in the Triangle and hit eBay and Amazon for any/all books on the subject. My favorite was Christopher Balzano’s Ghosts of the Bridgewater Triangle. and my copy quickly became loaded with placeholders and post-it notes. I was hoping I could meet that man himself during this trip but, sadly, he’s no longer in New England. He was, however, very helpful after I reached out to him and has continued to be even after my return.
Some have suggested the region’s unexplained occurrences were due to the mistreatment of the Indians and their having placed a curse on it. I posed that possibility to my boss at the zoo, Lee Ann. She’s part Indian, studied under a renowned Ute Medicine man named “Bear Boy,” and is well versed in many Native American beliefs. She literally winced when I brought up the notion of a curse.
“Native Americans don’t do curses, Dave,” she replied. “Curses are a Judeo-Christian thing and Indian curses are pure Hollywood crap!”
It made sense to me. If there were, in fact, dark forces at work in the Triangle, it was likely a cause of King Phillips War rather than the result of it. After all, even before the bloodshed, the Indians named it “Hockomock” based on their belief of its otherworldly nature.
I thanked Lee Ann for her input and could hear her yell as I was leaving the building, “And contrary to Disney, there weren’t any Indian princesses either!” Later she gave me some Indian-style protection in the form of obsidian and tourmaline to wear around my neck and, yes, I did end up wearing it.
I arrived in Warwick, Rhode Island on Wednesday, May 17th. The following day I was to work on David’s party but, thankfully, not until after I had the whole day to explore. Jef and I were to meet Aaron at the Freetown State Forest at 10 am and I couldn’t wait to get started. My other pal, Jason Schoolcraft, was free too and tagged along. The Bridgewater Trio were officially ready for action!
Coming up…Freaky things at the Freetown State Forest!