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Glastenbury/Long Trail

By Tom D’Agostino

Some people believe that there are portals or gates that lead back and forth to places far removed from our plane of existence or understanding. Perhaps they are the thin veils between dimensions.  There are many who have come to believe that the area of Glastenbury, Vermont, might house such a portal in the woods, waiting for the unsuspecting hiker to unwittingly enter its opening. There happens to also be a bit more that lurks among the now defunct ghost town. Those who have disappeared while wandering the vicinity of the ghost town may know the secrets that no one has ever been able to tell of the cursed mountain village.

Let's start with a little history of what is now but cellar holes and crumbling ruins along the Long Trail in Vermont. On August 20, 1761, Benning Wentworth, then Governor of the Province of New Hampshire, charted out the territory of what would later become Vermont. He cut the areas in squares and named a square Bennington in his honor. The area near it he named Glastonbury, which later became Glastenbury. Early settlers came from Rhode Island. They were the Mattisons and the Hazards. Life was tough there, but the few families were not afraid of the isolated region and the dangers that lurked about.  They were also not aware of a curse that covered the land.

The Native Indians of the area avoided the mountain in fear that evil creatures inhabited it. These creatures were known to bring death to all who trespassed upon their territory. When Vermont became a state in 1791, there were thirty-four people living in the Glastenbury settlement. It did not become an official town until 1834. Shortly after its inception into Vermont’s books, children began dying of whooping cough and mothers strangely succumbed to death during childbirth at an unusually alarming rate. One family lost six children to diphtheria. One day a resident from town wandered down river to do some fishing and was never seen or heard from again. Search parties scoured the area in vain looking for the man who had seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. Many months passed with no sign of the man until one day his skull was found on a stump nearby.

Other strange stories of giant creatures began to circulate about the little village. There is one report from a newspaper during the 19th century where a stagecoach traveling the Glastenbury Plank Road suddenly stopped when the horses reared and bucked. The driver, thinking it was a bobcat or wolf, grabbed his rifle and jumped from the reins to scare the beast away. As he looked down, he became startled by a gargantuan set of animal tracks in the mud beside him. He called to the passengers who quickly exited the coach to get a glimpse the strange prints. As they stared at the impressions, the horses let out a frightened whinny and leaped in terror. In an instant something slammed into the side of the coach sending it rolling over into the woods. A giant inhuman creature then glared back at the terrified throng with “great glinting eyes” before letting out a deafening roar. It then ran off into the darkness leaving the coach a wreck and the passengers and driver a petrified mess.

Accounts of huge beasts and Indian curses did not deter investors from setting up a profitable enterprise in town. They purchased six square miles of land and formed the Bennington and Glastenbury Railroad, Mining, and Manufacturing Company. They then laid nine miles of steep railway along the mountain. The tracks were so steep that they ascended two hundred and fifty feet per mile in some areas, making it the steepest traction railway ever built in the United States.

From 1873 to 1878, the town saw a building boom with boarding houses for the workers who labored at cutting the lumber for the kilns, a blacksmith shop, sawmill, general store, post office, and even a schoolhouse with four teachers. The curse of the mountain was all but forgotten. Then, the wood ran out and on June 3, 1890, the great mining company folded.

By then people began to realize the Indian warnings were not just native superstition. Horrible reports of the ghastly creatures in the woods around the town were still circulating throughout the households. At times the townsfolk could see their eyes glowing in the night among the thicket as if waiting for an unsuspecting person to ramble into their realm. Now, only a handful of families remained.

In 1937, the town was officially unincorporated. In 1950 the last inhabitant left, leaving the remains of the town to the elements. Soon a new breed of people poured into Glastenbury. These were hikers on the Long Trail looking for the remains of the abandoned village.

The Long Trail, a part of the Appalachian Trail, runs through Glastenbury Mountain. On November 12, 1945, Middle Rivers, an experienced hiker of the Appalachian Trail, disappeared without a trace while on the trail near Glastenbury Mountain. On December 1, 1946, Paula Weldon vanished from the trail. She was last seen hiking towards Glastenbury Mountain. Friends and authorities searched in vain for her. James Telford fell victim to the trail in 1949 and Francis Christman went missing in 1950. Other reports of vanishings and mysterious deaths have been reported. There are presumably ten disappearances that took place between 1945 and 1950.

Freida Langer was the only missing person ever to be found along the trail. As she was hiking with a relative, she slipped and fell in a stream. She went back to the house to get dry clothes, but vanished somewhere along the way. Several months later, on May 12, 1951, her body was found in a spot that searchers had meticulously combed. The cause of her untimely death forever remains a mystery. Since then, many have shunned the path. Experts say there is a “hole” or opening to another realm that people unwittingly walk into, never to be seen again. Then there are the sightings of the creatures.

Famous horror writer H.P. Lovecraft used the accounts of the ghost town to write “The Whisperer in Darkness.” Lovecraft died on March 15, 1937, several years before the strange string of disappearances. To this very day, witnesses along the roads and paths that lace Glastenbury have ranted about the beasts that roam within the dark bowers of the forest and mountain. In 1996, an enormous creature, walking erect, stalked Donna Schneider while hiking through Glastenbury. Another man spent a night couching silently in one of the old cellar holes as a hideous creature rummaged around the site. Perhaps looking for its next prey. A dash cam allegedly took a video of a large creature crossing a back road in the area. The sightings are continual as you read this writing.

What did the Native Americans know that the settlers did not?