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The Tomb of Asa “Popcorn” Snow

by Thomas D’Agostino

This comes from the book “A Guide To Haunted New England” by Thomas D’Agostino and Arlene Nicholson.

When the thirty-nine square mile Quabbin Reservoir was built in 1938, eleven towns were raised and flooded to create a water supply for the eastern portion of Massachusetts. Among those towns, only Dana Common remains above the water. A hike into the town common is a must for adventurers and those who wish to take in a little history. A drive down Route 32A will take you to gate 40. This is the entrance to Dana Common. It is also where another interesting story has its roots in the annals of Massachusetts’s legends.

At the gate there is a small path to the right. This will take you to the remains of Asa Snow’s tomb. Asa Snow was born in Cape Cod in the 1790s. He moved to Dana around 1840. The land where Gate 40 sits was once a portion of his farm. Asa was a vegetarian whose diet, according to legend, consisted mostly of milk and popcorn.

His first wife, Isabelle, committed suicide in 1844 by hanging herself in the barn. A year later, his daughter passed away. In the late 1860s, Asa built a family vault where he re-interred the remains of his family. He is reported to have displayed his first wife in the vault for anyone who may have been interested in viewing her. His second wife was not so agreeable over this matter.

Mr. Snow, now getting on in age, came up with another strange idea. He constructed a metal coffin with a glass top for the time when he too would pass. On November 29, 1872, Asa “Popcorn” Snow died, ironically, while dragging a pig carcass into the house for a Thanksgiving dinner. Plans had been made with the local undertaker to look after Mr. Snow for a period of seven days should he suddenly wake up. The glass top gave full view of Mr. Snow’s head. For some strange reason, Mrs. Snow relieved the undertaker of his responsibilities after only three days but paid him for the full seven.

The curious burial chamber attracted people from all parts. Many came to view the perfectly preserved body of Popcorn Snow through the top of the glass on the coffin. A news report from 1912 told of how his body looked the same as it did when buried forty years earlier. His hair was still the same shade and his clothes showed no sign of decay or tatter. Resting on top of his coffin was a wooden box containing the remains of his first wife and child.

Two men from Boston made a bet that one would spend the night in the crypt. The man tied his horse outside the vault and settled down inside the chamber for a night he would not soon forget. Not long after his vigil began, his horse took to fits and broke free, fleeing from the scene. The frightened ghost buster hastily followed in the hoof prints of his steed.

Not long after, someone broke the glass of the coffin, causing Asa to wither rapidly. Local authorities sealed the tomb from further legend trippers and it remained that way until the Metropolitan Water Commission relocated the remains to the Quabbin Cemetery and leveled the farm.

The remains of the crypt can still be seen along the small path. It is also told that every November 15, the ghost of Asa Snow is seen rising from the remains of his tomb to wander around his former homestead. To this day, newspapers still report sightings of a ghostly figure witnessed floating about the land that once belonged to Asa “Popcorn” Snow.

Tom D'Agostino has been a paranormal investigator for more than 30 years. He lives in Connecticut.