There’s been a lot of focus lately, on weird happenings in faraway lands. The middle-east, Russia, Asia, even Australia, which from a Can-Am-centric perspective (I’m Canadian) might provide an expanded view of our world, but there are plenty of weird things to look at right here in North America. And today I bring a story from what is arguably one of North America’s most beautiful destinations: New England.
Known for high society, fine-dining, world class skiing, and mysterious disappearances, Vermont, one of the six US states that make up the New England region, has been the focus of some of the better minds in anomalous or Fortean research over the years. One place in particular has gotten more than its fair share of attention: Glastonbury Mountain, also known as Green Mountain or the Green Mountain Range, is home to some very strange goings on, and has inspired some of the wildest theories you’ve ever heard.
The entire area of New England has been the primary focus of renowned author and Fortean researcher Joseph A. Citro. Humorously dubbed the Bard of the Bizarre by the Boston Globe, Citro has written extensively on the weird happenings, disappearances and other phenomena of New England, and especially Vermont. He is the originator of the somewhat little known Bennington Triangle theory, which is, as may seem obvious, a play on the Bermuda Triangle, and is his attempt to document and explain the disappearance of some five different people under mysterious circumstances since 1945, all on Glastonbury Mountain.
Citro notes, in his premiere novel Shadow Child (1987), which deals extensively with the mysteries of Glastonbury Mountain, that the area of what is now called Green Mountain has long been known, through Native American culture, as a strange and dangerous place that is to be avoided at all costs. Citro’s apparent familiarity with the history and traditions of the Algonquin peoples, who inhabited the area as early as 8500 BCE, has given him unique insight into the special and dark nature of the mountain.
The disappearances of Middie Rivers (1945), Paula Weldon (1946), James Tedford (1949), Paul Jepson (1950), and Frieda Langer (1950), are something of local legend in the area.
18 year old Paula Weldon, who disappeared while on a solo hike on the Long Trail, became something of a celebrity. As the story goes, several people witnessed her departure from Bennington College, with the knowledge that she was headed out for a short hike. Two elderly hikers reported seeing her on the trail, approximately 100 yards ahead of them, minutes before she disappeared. They claimed that she rounded a corner on the trail, and when they reached the same corner, she was gone, and was never seen or heard from again, despite extensive searches, FBI involvement and even a $5000 reward for her safe return. Her case became part of local urban legend, as people speculated about her becoming a wild recluse on the mountain, or perhaps fleeing to Canada to marry a boyfriend whose identity she kept secret.
There are several coincidences involved in the disappearances, but no real connection between any of the cases has been found. James Tedford (also spelled Teford or Tetford) disappeared from a bus between stops as it travelled toward Bennington exactly three years to the day from Weldon’s disappearance. Also, 8 year old Paul Jepson, who disappeared from his mother’s truck, while she tended to her pigs, was tracked with dogs. His scent was apparently picked up and followed to a local highway, which happened to be very near where Paula Weldon had disappeared.
The only one of the five to ever have been recovered was 53 year old Frieda Langer, who disappeared during a hike with her cousin only sixteen days after little Paul Jepson. Her body was recovered seven months later, near the Somerset Reservoir, which had been searched extensively at the time of her disappearance. No cause of death could be determined because of the advanced state of decay in which she was found.
Strange coincidences notwithstanding, there isn’t much about these disappearances that warrants Fortean attention, at least on the surface. People go missing, it happens every day, all over the world, and though it’s a tragic event, it isn’t necessarily anomalous or even all that weird.
According to Citro, the Bennington Triangle, an ill-defined area surrounding Glastonbury Mountain and roughly bordered by the region of Bennington itself, bears striking resemblance to the nearby Bridgewater Triangle of Massachusetts. The Bridgewater Triangle, for those unfamiliar, is an area of approximately 200 square miles in southeastern Massachusetts, wherein sightings of UFO’s, orbs, Bigfoot, and thunderbird, as well as cattle mutilations have been taking place on a regular basis for decades, if not centuries. Citro claims that there is similar folklore and history between these two areas, and has put forward some slightly strange explanations for the weirdness held therein.
Perhaps his strangest explanation is the man-eating stone of Glastonbury Mountain. Making its first appearance in Citro’s book The Vermont Monster Guide (2009), the man-eating stone is exactly what it sounds like…a rock that eats people.
“No one alive has seen this dangerous anomaly on Glastonbury Mountain. Native Americans knew of it, and warned people away. We can only imagine it as a sizable rock, large enough to stand on. But when someone stands upon it, the rock becomes less solid, and, like a living thing, swallows the unfortunate trespasser. A number of disappearances have been reported on Glastonbury Mountain. Could all these vanished folks have stepped inadvertently on this hungry stone?”
In another of his books, Passing Strange: True Tales of New England Hauntings and Horrors (1996), Citro describes “an inaccessible region, remote, full of dark places, jutting outcrops, vast marshlands and quiet pools.” He seems to regard the entire region as a magical land of mysteries and dangers, almost fairy-tale-like, but describes a wild, almost untouched wilderness sitting in the heart of American society’s upper crust summer vacation destination.
Is there something weird going on at Glastonbury Mountain? Is the Bennington Triangle worth a closer look? Or is a talented author and folklorist trying to sell books through sensational, if difficult to believe theories? The facts are that five people disappeared on that mountain, four of them without a trace of evidence as to their whereabouts or fate. That alone should get our attention, and who knows…maybe there is a boulder with an appetite for man-flesh in Vermont.
 Joseph A. Citro. The Vermont Monster Guide (2009). Pp. 38