It was a sunny Thursday morning when we entered the main entrance of the Freetown State Forest in Massachusetts. Aaron Cadieux, the director of The Bridgewater Triangle, was en route and shot me a text asking if I wanted coffee. It was a gracious gesture, especially considering he was already doing me a huge favor just by coming out to meet us. Fortunately, my pal Jason Schoolcraft had already supplied me with my daily caffeine requirement, thereby granting me the necessary endurance to combat the Massachusetts morning traffic and an alleged evil forest. As soon as I turned off the ignition, Jef Taylor was out of the car and checking out the map.
The beautiful weather was deceiving as temperatures would eventually reach triple digits and, being a natural sweat box, it wasn’t long before I attracted a swarm of gnats that constantly flew around my head. Despite my constant flailing, a couple even made their way down my throat, sending me into a fit of hacking. Of all my careful planning, bringing along bug spray somehow never occurred to me and I was sure paying it. After just ten minutes I was fantasizing about bathing in a vat of DDT!
Marauding insects, unfortunately, were the least of this forest’s dark secrets. Freetown has been known for harboring satanic cults and one of the most spine-chilling scenes in Aaron’s documentary was the discovery of an abandoned dugout that had satanic symbols along with a child-sized wooden chair, mutilated dolls, and torn children’s clothing. It’s the kind of horrific sight one would expect to see in a Rob Zombie film as opposed to a routine nature hike. Local hunters have reported satanic graffiti, animal mutilations, and the work of one ambitious cultist who wrote the Lord’s Prayer backwards in blood.
This was also the place where the body of a young girl, Mary Lou Arruda, was discovered tied to a tree in 1978. It would be over twenty years before there’d be a conviction and though cult activity surrounded the event it was never conclusively tied to it. All of these things seemed directly at odds with the beautiful setting we were currently standing in and I decided to keep my thoughts on ghosts and curses rather than human malice.
Jef proved to be the ideal companion. He was so good at identifying every single insect, bird call, and plant we encountered, I wondered why he wasn’t a Ranger at a National Park. While I was swatting gnats, he provided us with an informative discussion on lichens and fungi before Aaron’s car pulled in.
Aaron was a young, slender guy who was one of those people you instantly felt comfortable talking to. I thanked him for meeting with us and complimented him on his film-making skills (like for the tenth time but finally in person).
He mentioned how the documentary had gotten a lot more attention since becoming available on Amazon Prime for streaming where it was doing quite well. He, himself, is a skeptic and when I asked if (during the course of filming) he’d started to become a believer he laughed and said, “Well I walked in 99% a skeptic and walked out at 95.” He reminded us of a part in the film where he’s outside filming Christopher Balzano and the lights mysterious cut-out for no reason. “That’s about as close as I’ve ever come to a real paranormal experience,” he said. Incidentally, that scene was filmed here at the Freetown State Forest by the Assonet Ledge, which I’ll discuss later.
I asked him if he wouldn’t mind taking us to the more famous parts of the forest and he readily agreed, suggesting Profile Rock as we were closest to it. While en route, Jef and I were surprised to see a sign for the Wampanoag Indian Reservation. The wolf symbol coupled with the forest setting brought to mind werewolves and The Howling (1982); yet another illustration of me wanting to embrace anything supernatural rather than that gruesome cult stuff!
We pulled into a gravel lot and didn’t have far to go before spotting Profile Rock and seeing exactly how it got its moniker. This had been sacred ground to the Wampanoags who worshipped at this spot due to the uncanny shape of a man’s profile in rock which they believed to be the image of Massasoit Sachem himself – their Chief when the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. Aaron mentioned how some people have claimed to see apparitions here but that it was one of those “I know a friend who knows a friend” kind of things.
The lore I read concerning this location involves folks seeing the ghost of Messasoit’s son, Metacomet a.k.a. King Philip who appears to be trying to summon his father for help (and if you’re aware of King Philip’s fate, than you know devine assistance never came). It’s said that some of King Philip’s final nights were spent here and I quickly started getting that “Oh, crap I’m in spooky New England,” feeling again.
We decided to climb the fifty foot formation though I confess I only went up about half-way. It wasn’t because I didn’t think I could reach the top, mind you, but because I was worried about the unsteady journey back down. I should mention that I’m famous for my falling and there’s a running joke between the other Dave and I about how “it’s not a trip unless Dave actually does.”
Jason was so nice that he helped guide me back down and stayed close as if the poor, skinny guy with an arm sling could be much help should this Humpty Dumpty take a spill. I carefully descended while imagining myself wishing David a “Happy Birthday” at his surprise party (slated for that Sunday) via satellite from a Massachusetts hospital.
Ranger Jef, however, quickly made his way to the top with Aaron and shot some photos for me. He later mentioned how there was a lot of graffiti on the rocks which was something I noticed in many Freetown State Forest spots.
We made our way back to our cars and came across a dead snake. Dead animals aren’t anything new at the Freetown State Forest with many attributed to the cults back when they were active. With the animal’s body sitting right out on the middle of a trail, you didn’t need a necropsy to deduce “wrongful death.” However, it was likely the victim of some random jackass rather than any organized devil worshipers.
Our next stop was the Assonet Ledge which ended up being a bust. The plan was to park at the entrance and then hop into Aaron’s car which was better equipped for the one mile, rocky drive to the old quarry. Unfortunately we were halted by two metal partitions which meant we’d have to hoof it. In this heat, that was a definite HELL NO.
Aaron hopped out of his car, “This is ridiculous…it’s never closed! This is public land!” He got on the phone while Jef and I gazed down the path.
After hanging up he walked to our window and explained that the entrance was now permanently closed unless prior arrangements are made for it to be opened. Apparently there was a safety event not long ago where a young graffiti artist got stuck hanging from the Ledge and needing to be rescued. Yes, folks, in this forest it’s definitely the living that cause the biggest problems!
We returned to the main entrance and Jason took off for a prior appointment. Our trio was now a duo as Jef and I followed Aaron to the next phase of our journey, Dighton Rock. One of the most mysterious objects in all of New England.
Coming Up…Who wrote the Petroglyphs of Dighton Rock?