A lot of strange things happen in this world. Many times, they can’t exactly be explained. For those of you who grew up in eastern Massachusetts, you’re very close to one of the world’s known capitals of strangeness. Together, the towns of Abington, Freetown, and Rehoboth form a 200 square-mile triangular area where tons of paranormal activity constantly happen (Paranormal-Encyclopedia). At the center of this triangular area is the town of Bridgewater, established in 1656 (Wikipedia). Being the center, the triangle was named after Bridgewater and became popularly known as the Bridgewater Triangle. Simply the mention of the name is enough to send chills up some spines. Upon hearing this, most people, however, would shrug it off and think, “yeah, right”, but after a lot of research, I have read a few of things that make me question my skeptical side. Let’s start with a little history lesson.
Image courtesy of Bristol County Media / Big Operations Productions & Flib Productions
History: Hockomock swamp, known as the heart of the triangle, is 16,950 acres in total. Before Native Americans were widely killed off, they had respected the swamp, thinking of it as magical and sacred. However, it being very mysterious, was named “Hockomock” which means “place where spirits dwell”. To English settlers, it was known as “Devil’s Swamp”. The settlers were petrified by the swamp. It was new to them, hard to navigate, and contained many plants and animals they didn’t understand (Good). Way later in the 18th and 19th centuries, settlers tried to drain the swamp and convert it into farmland, but as the natives still relied on this land to survive, they managed to keep it out of the settler’s hands (Good).
In 1675, a war broke out as the last attempt of some Native American tribes to drive the English settlers out of New England. This war was known as King Philip’s War, named after the Wampanoag chief, Metacomet, whom the settlers called King Philip. Various tribes joined up with Metacomet to battle the settlers. Ending with Metcomet’s kidnapping and beheading as well as chief Anawan’s surrender at Anawan’s rock, the settlers had won the fourteen-month long war (History.com). Much of this war took place in Hockomock Swamp, for it was a great area to use for strategy. Unfortunately, it did not help the natives enough for them to win the war. Many that visit the swamp claim they see apparitions of Native Americans dancing. This “ghost dancing” is also reported at another site of King Philip’s war, the Anawan rock. According to rumors, it’s said that the spirits of the natives often start spectral fires and haunt those who approach the area (Paranormal-Encyclopedia). Hockomock wasn’t just creepy to people back in the day, it remains pretty ominous to this day. Interviewing a resident of the triangle, Kristen Good received this statement from them, “’The neighborhood kids often talked about feeling watched in the swamp, and hearing something bulling through the forest, knocking down trees. We'd also heard of people actually hearing loud, bloodcurdling screams. It wasn't until I was maybe ten or eleven that some friends and I experienced these things for ourselves...along with a whole slew of other phenomenon: disembodied voices, trees being "thrown" at us while deep in the woods, what looked like large human footprints in the corn fields, ghostly forms, strange lights, a strange squeaking sound that seemed to be coming from a plastic toy (a Native American head), that seemed to respond to questions and things we were saying), cult activity, you name it.’" (Good) To add to overall eeriness of the swamp, sightings of odd things are common in the swamp and throughout the rest of the triangle.
UFO Sightings: A lot of stories circulate the world of this area and the first known report of strange activity occurred all the way back in 1760 when many reported seeing a large ball of fire considered brighter than the sun over Roxbury and Bridgewater. This event was never explained but is considered to be the first documented UFO sighting of the world (Roadtrippers). Many more UFO sightings within the Bridgewater Triangle have been reported over the years. On Halloween in 1908, newspapers featured another sighting. Five people claimed in 1968 they spotted a large ball of light over the woods in Rehoboth. In the 1970’s, many sightings were reported frequently in the triangle. In one particular sighting off of Route 44 in Taunton, two UFO’s were seen “landing.” To add to all of that, in 1994, a local police officer in Bridgewater claimed he saw a “triangular shaped craft with red and white lights” (Paranormal-Encyclopedia). Also, in Raynham, it is apparently quite often the case that people see glowing balls of light over the local dog track. At one point, two reporters claimed they had seen a pentagonal-shaped craft flying over the track and straight at them. Later on, they discovered many others had also seen this anomaly. Because of this, they reported on it in the local news (WCVB). The strangest UFO sighting certainly was the one reported by Ronald Reagan in 1974 on a ledge in Freetown State Forest. It is said that he was flying over the ledge when a light started following his plane. “The light was seen to accelerate, decelerate, and become elongated, all within the space of a few minutes. It then is reported to have suddenly shot up at a 45-degree angle at a high rate of speed and disappear.” (Mysterious Universe)
Ghost Stories: Although that’s not it for paranormal activity within the triangle. In addition to the hauntings of Native Americans, there have also been other ghost stories passed around. The Assonet Ledge in Freetown State Forest holds many reports of ghosts standing on the ledge, jumping off, and then magically disappearing. A paranormal investigator, John Brightman, told his story at a presentation in Dighton of the time he had a breakdown on the ledge when a spirit had told him to jump or leave (Boston.com). There is also a story of a redheaded hitchhiker with a full beard on Route 44 in Seekonk who repeatedly disappears after people stop to pick him up. Some stories include him actually making it in the car before he is suddenly gone. Some people have also been known to “hit” the ghost before he vanishes into thin air (Boston.com). Back in Freetown on Copicut Road, it has been frequently reported that a road-raging truck driver tailgates behind people as he honks his horn and waves his arms around crazily. Suddenly, he disappears (Boston.com). In addition to these stories, it is also said that in a single-room schoolhouse in Rehoboth that was no longer used after 1937, voices have been heard in the building during visiting hours (Boston.com). Very many ghost stories have been reported in The Bridgewater Triangle, but crazier things have been seen or heard about the area.
Strange creatures in Hockomock Swamp: Along with the overall eeriness of the mysterious swamp of the Bridgewater Triangle and the reported UFO and ghost sightings, there are also very odd sightings of animals in the swamp. On the simpler side, it’s been said that animals not indigenous have been spotted dwelling in the swamp. Strange enough though, it tends to be animals or “creatures” not exactly considered to be real either. People have reported countless sightings of “thunderbirds”, monster-sized snakes, giant black dogs or panthers, and Bigfoot (Good). As for the thunderbirds sightings, they are described as large black pterodactyl-like birds. One particular sighting included two of these birds fighting each other just over Blue Hill in the swamp in 1984 (Paranormal-Encyclopedia). More often than any other creature, bigfoot is apparently a common view in Hockomock Swamp. “In 1970, reports of a big-foot like, 7-foot tall hairy monster and its footprints instigated both the Bridgewater and Massachusetts State Police canine unit to conduct a search for a bear. However, neither man nor bear was ever found. In 1978, paranormal researcher Joseph M. DeAndrade claims to have observed another such creature as it slowly walked into the brush of the Hockomock Swamp, about 200 yards from his location.” (Paranormal-Encyclopedia) Sightings of this tall man-like hairy creature are frequently reported throughout the triangle. It’s said that these creatures have usually been calm, but in the 1970’s, it was also said that “bigfoot” went nuts and madly killed many pigs (Boston.com). Although you’re probably thinking there isn’t much more to tell, you’re wrong. There is way more to know about this phenomenal area.
Other Strange Locations: Besides Anawan Rock, there are two other mysterious and significant rocks in the triangle famous (or infamous) for lots of strange activity and stories. Dighton Rock is a 40-ton boulder sticking out of the Taunton River. Although it seems at first there is nothing different about the rock, there is actually strange engravements on and all over the rock. No one knows quite what the drawings and characters mean, but there are many theories (AmericanHeritage.org). Profile Rock is another significant location in which a rock resides that is shaped like the profile of a Native American face. It is said to be sculpted after Chief Massasoit (Wikipedia). It’s rumored a ghostly figure is often seen sitting at the top of the rock as well as many “ghost dancers” in the area (Roadtrippers). Another creepy location within the Bridgewater Triangle is Taunton’s very own state hospital. Satanic cults were rumored to meet and practice here in the 1960’s and 1970’s. People report being touched and seeing orbs in the hospital (Roadtrippers).
The history of Taunton State Hospital is somewhat suspicious as it is. When it was first opened in the 1850’s, it was improved throughout the years and made into a beautiful mental health facility with a lot of departments available to patients. However, in 1975, the main part of the building was abandoned. In 1999, the large domed part of the building collapsed. In 2006, a fire destroyed many parts of the hospital and in 2009, most of what was left was demolished (Wikipedia). Though it could be all normal situations, it still hits me as sketchy. According to staff members, there continues to be strange activity within the building. “While still in operation, staff members told stories that they would descend the stairs only to find something physically blocking them from reaching the bottom step…Only there was nothing there. There are allegedly still unexplained markings on the walls of the basement. The evil does not stay in the basement though. Residents have had their lights turn on and off in the middle of the night. Many have also experienced a shadowy man who appears out of nowhere. At times, he is not much more than a shadow having no specific form and moving as if crawling across the wall. Other times he is more solid although somewhat stretched out. Three things remain constant in the report, however; his face can never be seen, he is always described as being male and he appears in the corner of the resident's room in the middle of the night and stands as if watching them.’” (Haunted Travels USA)
Finally, the Freetown-Fall River State Forest is quite the strange place that holds many stories. “The forest is said to be home to a race of diminutive humanoid creatures known as Pukwedgies, which have long been known by the native Wampanoag tribe. These creatures are described as being troll-like beasts around 2 to 3 feet in height and with smooth, hairy gray skin that is said to glow on occasion. The Pukwedgies have a notorious reputation for mischief and mayhem, and are said to intentionally startle people, throw rocks or sand in their faces, push or shove them, kidnap them, hurl them from cliffs, wrestle with them or even attack them with knives or spears. The creatures are also said to be competent magic users and shapeshifters.” (Mysterious Universe) Although this may sound faker than anything you’ve ever heard of, there are actually many reports of hikers coming across such creatures as well as claims that they may have been the cause of falls from cliffs. These creatures supposedly have also been spotted in other parts of the country (Mysterious Universe). In addition to this, the forest also has a large quantity of unsolved murders, suicides, and cult activity. At one point, police officers discovered an underground bunker in the forest filled with the remains of cult rituals which was suspected to include human remains. (Mysterious Universe)
Though there are many more strange occurrences and sightings to research, I found a couple theories that may explain the strange activity in this area.
- It is theorized that the anger and negative energy from the King Philip’s War was trapped in the swamp and in the surrounding areas, causing paranormal activity to occur here even to this day (WCVB). “There are many reasons for the presence of paranormal activity in the area, with many locals claiming the cause to be Native American curses. After the colonists settled the area in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Native American peoples were treated poorly and the "wampum belt" of the Wampanoag people was lost during subsequent battles. This lost belt has allegedly caused significant paranormal unrest amongst the ghost warriors that haunt the Bridgewater Triangle to this day.” (Roadtrippers)
- Because of the magnetic field and force of gravity in some areas of the world, strange things happen. No one really knows why and there isn’t enough solid proof as to what things happen or can be seen, but it said that reality may be bent in these areas or that we are able to see through to other dimensions in vortexes like The Bridgewater Triangle. ''’Throughout the world, there are areas that have vortexes, or windows, in which the laws of gravity seem not to operate in the way as understood in the natural world," says Pittman, who lives in Franklin. ''And while not all these places are rife with the paranormal, I am fairly confident that almost any place you find the paranormal humming, there is also a vortex where gravity and energy aren't behaving normally.’” (Boston.com)
- I’ve also taken input from a friend of mine who formulated his own skeptical theory. He stated that because people are paying attention to this area more so than other places, strange occurrences are emphasized when really the area is no different than the rest of the world.
Though we may never know exactly what causes strange things to happen in this world, it is certainly important to pay attention to these occurrences. It could be all fake in the end, but at least it’s fun and interesting to learn about. And it certainly says a lot about society. What’s even more interesting to think about is that if it is all real after all. Maybe we’ll never know, maybe we’ll find out some day. The thing that interested me even more than simply reading up on all this information was one large fact. There were dead links everywhere. References from Wikipedia or news sources would bring me to pages that were not found, even if they were taking me to a viewing of a library book. Links to websites with videos and pictures of strange sightings would take me to an error message saying the site had been shut down. All of the government sites I looked at made no mention of the history of the locations or rumors associated with them. It really makes me wonder, are things like this being hidden from the public? Research for this subject was a long process because I had to dig deep into the internet. I do know one thing for sure, all of this information put together seriously gives me some feelings of suspicion. Maybe someday I will visit these areas and look for these oddities myself.