It occurred to me recently that I have not written anything on this blog in the category of “The Supernatural” despite my previously stated interest in the topic. So in the spirit of remedying this oversight, I will now present to you an article on the subject of paranormal triangles.
After the Bermuda Triangle phenomenon gained extraordinary popularity in the late 60s and early 70s, it became common to label many supposed paranormal hotspots with the label “(x location) Triangle.” Most of these tend to be located in the United States, Britain, or other developed countries. I’m not going to speculate on why that is, mostly because I want to write a blog post that doesn’t mention politics for once.
Even if you don’t believe any of these stories (I’m ambivalent about them myself), you still have to admit that they make damn fun reads. So get your flashlight faces ready and come along (if you dare) as I take you on a road trip through ten paranormal triangles.
1. The Bridgewater Triangle (Massachusetts)
Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman first popularized the Bridgewater Triangle in his book Mysterious America, published in the late 1970s. He identified the Triangle’s points as Abington, Rehoboth, and Freetown, including parts of fourteen other townships within its perimeter. Alongside the Bennington Triangle and the Dragon’s Triangle (described below), it is undoubtedly one of the most famous paranormal triangles, for despite not having much in the way of high-profile mysterious disappearances, it makes up for it with a whole host of other paranormal phenomena.
As might be expected with a North American paranormal hotspot, the Native Americans of the region, specifically the Wampanoag tribe, told stories about the area long before the white man came. The centerpiece of the future Triangle was the Hockomock Swamp, from a word that means “the place where spirits dwell” in the native Wopanaak language. The name “Hockomock” was also ascribed to a god of death and disease that supposedly resided in the swamp and served as a sort of Satanic counterpart to their creator deity, Kautantowit.
A much more down to Earth horror came to pass in the 1670s when King Phillips’ War pitted the Wampanoag against their Puritan colonizers. Hockomock Swamp was even the site of an aboriginal fortress used by Metacom himself, aka the titular King Phillip. Given how utterly the Wampanoag were massacred during the war, it’s not to see why some believe the land surrounding the swamp was cursed by the spirits who looked after the natives. Even the English settlers came to refer to the region as the “Devil’s Swamp.”
So exactly what kind of paranormal phenomena has been reported in the Bridgewater Triangle? Ask me what paranormal phenomena hasn’t been reported in the region! That would be the shorter answer! So, from here on, I will present the reported phenomena in a list format, starting with:
There are many hauntings described in the picture I used above, but I will repeat them here for the sake of not causing eye strain.
Stonehill College, located in Easton just outside the swamp, is allegedly home to the spirit of a little girl, supposedly the daughter of the school president who drowned in a pool where the gym is located today.
Taunton State Hospital, located almost in the Triangle’s dead center, was allegedly a hotspot of Satanic cult activity in the 60s and 70s alongside nearby Freetown-Fall River State Forest (visitors still report being touched by unseen hands).
In Rehoboth’s single-room Hornbine School, visitors have reported hearing and seeing spectral teachers and students.
And finally, there are the roadside specters, like the ghostly truck on Copicut Road in Freetown or the red-headed hitchhiker on Route 44 who disappears whenever someone stops to pick him up. There are probably others I’ve missed, but I don’t have the space to list more here, so let’s move on to…
2. Assonet Ledge and Profile Rock
These landmarks are located in Freetown State Park, and both have creepy legends attached to them. Assonet Ledge, an 80′ deep rock quarry mined by the Fall River Granite Company in the 1800s, is reputed to produce a deep sense of dread and/or melancholy in visitors and is even a popular local suicide destination.
Profile Rock is eerie enough with its resemblance to a human face (Wampanoag legend states that it’s a dead ringer for Chief Massasoit of Plymouth Rock fame and that his son died at the spot). But what’s even eerier are the ghosts of native warriors said to dance around the rock, and the spirit of a man said to sit on the rock with arms outstretched. Also, the park is said to be a hotspot for another Bridgewater mystery…
3. UFOs and Black Helicopters
UFO sightings in the Triangle date back to 1760, when a flaming sphere was sighted over Bridgewater. The sightings really seemed to pick up steam in the 1970s, however. These include a sighting by multiple witnesses at a restaurant in Rehoboth in 1973, a sighting by two Boston radio reporters in 1979, two flying craft seen landing near Route 44 in Taunton in 1976, a triangle-shaped craft observed by a police officer in 1994, and a fast-moving craft that produced a sonic boom over Lake Nippenicket in 1999.
There was also apparently a wave of black helicopter sightings in Rehoboth in 2002 with spotlights mounted on them, although one witness described at least one of them as grey-camouflaged or striped.
4. The Hockomock Swamp Monster
This Bigfoot-like creature has been sporadically sighted around Hockomock Swamp, especially since the 1970s. While mostly harmless, there were a few incidents where it was blamed for livestock deaths. There was also an incident in May of 1970 when two police officers claimed that a bearlike creature lifted the back end of their car while they were still inside.
These mainstays of Native American mythology are surprisingly common in modern cryptozoological lore, most often being ascribed to surviving pterosaurs left over from the age of dinosaurs or (perhaps more plausibly) large Ice Age-era birds of prey like Teratornis. These creatures have been reported as having wingspans of 8-12 feet, and sightings in the region date back to a 1971 report from a site within the swamp called Bird Hill (yes, really) by Norton Police Sergeant Thomas Downy. Another notable sighting was a report where two giant birds were seen fighting in 1984.
6. Other Cryptid Sightings
Other assorted weird animal sightings include, but are probably not limited to:
- A giant black snake as big around as a stovepipe that was seen by Civilian Conservation Corps engineers on the edge of the swamp near King Phillip’s Road in 1939.
- A giant dog with glowing red eyes witnessed ripping the throats of ponies in Abington in 1976.
- Misplaced wildlife like black panthers, giant turtles, and even alligators, despite being far out of the range of their southern swamps.
- A strange creature reported on Elm Street in Bridgewater that seems to bear an uncanny resemblance to the so-called “Dover Demon,” another paranormal anomaly native to Massachusetts.
- A black mist-like entity that has been reported along Route 138 in the swamp.
The last major phenomena I’ll cover here are the Wamapnoag’s resident fairy folk. The pukwudgies are described as three-foot-tall hairy humanoid beings who delight in causing trouble for local humans. They will blind victims who annoy them with sand, lead them into the wilderness with ghost lights known as Tei-Pei-Wankas, attack them with knives and spears, and even push them off cliffs. Some locals have blamed them for the suicidal feelings evoked on Assonet Ledge.
There have even been eyewitness reports of creatures resembling pukwudgies in the modern day. The most notable of these comes from Raynham resident Bill Russo, who claims to have seen a four-foot-tall hairy humanoid in 1995 while taking his dog out on a midnight walk on the edge of the swamp. The creepiest part about the encounter was that the creature actually spoke to him, repeatedly saying, “Eee wah chu. Keahr.” Russo later came to believe that the being was saying, “We want you. Come here,” in broken English.
Of course, there is plenty of more mundane weirdness to be found in the region. Some examples include the escaped emu that rampaged through Freetown State Forest in 2006 and the Dighton Rock. This forty-ton boulder, discovered on the shores of the Taunton River by the Reverend John Danforth in 1680, is covered in petroglyphs and other ancient designs. The thing is… no one knows who made them. Guesses have ranged from indigenous tribes and Vikings to Phoenicians and the Portuguese. Even Chinese explorers have been suspected. Of course, many of the fellows at the Dighton Rock Museum believe that multiple sources are responsible.
Aaron Mahnke, The World of Lore: Dreadful Places, New York: Del Ray, 2018
2. The Bennington Triangle (Vermont)
This vortex centers on Glastenbury Mountain in southwestern Vermont, which is surrounded by the towns of Bennington, Woodford, Shaftsbury, Somerset, and Glastenbury. The latter two are unincorporated ghost towns today, owing to major economic upheavals in the early 1900s.
Glastenbury was founded by New Hampshire governor Benning Wentworth in 1761 and named after Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, England, which is reputed to be the resting place of King Arthur. Glastenbury became a logging town in the wake of the Civil War. But by the late 1880s, the forests were stripped, and local officials tried rebranding the area as a tourist destination. But after the trolley going up the mountain was washed away by a flood in the spring of 1898, all hope was lost, and the town was abandoned.
But that wasn’t the only type of darkness that descended on the town. In 1892, a sawmill worker named Henry McDowell beat John Crawley to death with a rock and was placed in a mental asylum after claiming that voices in his head drove him to commit the murder. McDowell is rumored to have escaped sometime later, and was blamed for the death of John Harbour, found dead from a gunshot wound under an old cedar tree by his brother Harry in 1897.
But around fifty years later, the Bennington Triangle would truly leave its mark on the world when a wave of disappearances swept the region between 1945 and 1950. Here is the list in chronological order:
- Middie Rivers (November 12, 1945): Rivers, 74, was out hunting with a group of four hunters near the intersection between Route 9 and the Long Trail Road when the others in the group lost sight of him after he got slightly ahead of them. He had been leading them back to camp, and while the group wasn’t concerned at first, as Rivers was an experienced outdoorsman, they soon became concerned and organized a search party. The only remains ever discovered were a rifle cartridge found in a nearby stream.
- Paula Jean Welden (December 1, 1946): Welden is almost certainly the most famous missing person associated with the region. The 18-year-old Bennington College student was last seen by an elderly couple who had shared Welden’s sudden urge to hike the Long Trail on that cold winter day. They saw her go around a corner in the trail, but by the time they reached the corner, she was nowhere to be seen, despite the bright red coat she was reportedly wearing. No trace of her was ever found. The incident is believed to have inspired the 1951 novel Hangsaman by noted horror author Shirley Jackson, who was living in Bennington at the time of the disappearance.
- James Tedford (December 1, 1949): Tedford’s disappearance, assuming it was reported correctly, is undoubtedly one of the most perplexing. The 68-year-old veteran had boarded a bus after visiting relatives in St. Albans. Others on the bus claimed he was still in his seat as it was approaching Bennington. But by the time the bus had reached its last stop, Tedford was gone. No one had seen him disembark, and his belongings were still in the luggage rack. No trace of him was ever found.
- Paul Jephson (October 12, 1950): Jephson, 8, accompanied his mother as she drove out in her pickup truck to feed their pigs. When she returned about an hour later, Paul had vanished. Search parties could find no trace of him, even though, as with Paula Welden, he had been wearing a red jacket when he disappeared. Some stories claim that bloodhounds tracked his scent to the same spot on the Long Trail where Welden vanished, only to lose it forever. Equally strange was that Paul’s father later claimed that his son had talked about an inexplicable yearning to go to the mountains before his disappearance.
- Frieda Langer (October 28, 1950): Langer, 53, vanished only sixteen days after Jephson. Langer had gone out on a family camping trip and was hiking with her cousin Herbert Elsner when she slipped and fell into a creek. She headed back to camp to change into some drier clothes, but when Elsner returned, Langer was nowhere to be seen. Unlike the other four cases, Langer’s body was eventually discovered on May 12, 1951, on the shores of Somerset Reservoir, despite the area having been searched already. No cause of death could be determined due to the state of decomposition.
There have been several attempts to explain these vanishings. One theory is that a serial killer may have been responsible, with some even going as far as to argue that Henry McDowell was responsible, even though he would have been an elderly man at this point. There were also sightings of a man who lived in a cave near Somerset in 1867 who would expose himself to female passersby and threaten them with a gun.
Others have blamed the Bennington Monster, another Bigfoot-type creature seen around the area since the early 1800s when it allegedly tried to run a stagecoach off the side of Glastenbury Mountain in the middle of a thunderstorm. Another incident that preceded the disappearances occurred on November 11, 1943, when Carl Herrick disappeared while on a hunting trip with his cousin Henry. His body was discovered three days later, surrounded by large footprints and showing signs of having been crushed as if by a pair of giant arms.
Others point to stories told by the indigenous Abenaki tribe about how Glastenbury Mountain is cursed. Part of the reason is that the mountain was where the “four winds” met in an eternal struggle. Interestingly, this legend has been scientifically verified. The wind pattern on the mountain is so erratic that plants have no consistent growth patterns. This can mess with a hiker’s sense of direction and can easily cause them to become lost.
Less explainable was a particular rock on the mountain that the natives say caused anyone who stepped on it to vanish instantly, never to be seen again. There are also several cairns, or human-made rock piles, strewn across the mountainside, although the human-made part may be up for debate because the natives refuse to take credit for them.
Strange reports have continued to come out of the region since the disappearances ended. A hiker named Chad Abramovich told a story on the website Obscure Vermont of how he and some friends found themselves caught in a torrential thunderstorm while exploring ruins on an otherwise sunny July afternoon. However, when they managed to escape the downpour, they discovered that their surroundings were dry as a bone. When they reached civilization, the locals claimed that no thunderstorm had passed through the area.
Another hiker named Robert Singley, who works at Bennington College as a music professor, told a local newspaper how he became lost on the trail away from Bald Mountain in 2008. He walked five miles before he realized he should have reached his car already. Then a thick fog rolled in. He huddled beneath a maple tree and started a fire as the night came down. He was mildly unnerved when most of the sticks he picked up turned out to be animal bones. Luckily, he survived the night, although he discovered that he was on the other side of the ridge from his car the next morning.
Other strange happenings include a silo-shaped UFO seen over Bennington by Don Pratt in 1984 and an apparent incident involving “terrifying voices showing up over dead-air radio” in the region. The only link I could find on that story is dead, however, so I don’t know the details.
Aaron Mahnke, The World of Lore: Dreadful Places, New York: Del Ray, 2018
10 Creepy Mysteries of the Bennington Triangle by Renee Chandler on Listverse
3. The Devil’s Sea (Japan)
Also known as the Dragon’s Triangle, the Formosa Triangle, the Pacific Bermuda Triangle, and the Taiwan Triangle, this is the Pacific Ocean’s answer to the Bermuda Triangle. In his 1974 book The Bermuda Triangle, Charles Berlitz popularized it and later elaborated on it in 1989’s The Dragon’s Triangle. Some have claimed that it is even more dangerous than its Atlantic counterpart. While its perimeter often changes depending on who tells the story (sometimes its points stretch as far as Taiwan, the Philippines, Guam, and Iwo Jima), it is almost universally agreed by paranormal enthusiasts that the phenomenon centers on the Izu archipelago, especially the islands of Miyake-Jima and Mikura-Jima.
Legends about the region date back to around 1000 BCE when the Chinese whispered about a dragon that supposedly lived in that region of the ocean and would destroy any ship that passed over its territory. Some have linked the destruction of the two invading Mongol fleets by the so-called “divine wind” or kamikaze typhoons in 1274 and 1281 to the Triangle, even though they were wrecked in the Strait of Korea on the other side of the Japanese archipelago.
Another strange incident occurred in the early 1800s when several sailors told of a strange ship that looked like a box for burning incense sailing the waters of the Devil’s Sea. This Utsuro-bone or “hollow ship,” allegedly washed ashore in the Hitachi province on February 22, 1803, where its pilot, a young red-haired woman, was discovered not to understand Japanese. She carried a box that she would not allow anyone to touch and later set sail again when local fishermen helped pull her ship out of the sand.
Although the Dragon’s Triangle has had its fair share of UFO encounters and sea monster sightings (including one by Navy pilot Toshiaki Lang who saw a 150-foot-long serpent-like creature with large triangular fins in 1944), its biggest claim to fame is a supposed cluster of disappearances in the early 1950s that claimed 700 lives, according to Berlitz. Nine of these ships, which Berlitz describes as belonging to the Japanese Navy, were apparently lost in perfect weather. The most famous disappearance was of a ship called the Kaiyo Maru No. 5, which vanished from radio contact after being sent into the Triangle to investigate the disappearances in 1955. Berlitz also claimed that ships belonging to both the Japanese and American navies vanished in the region during World War Two.
As with the Bermuda Triangle, though, skeptical author Larry Kusche debunked many of Berlitz’s claims about the region in his 1975 book The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved. He pointed out that Berlitz’s military vessels were actually deep-sea fishing boats. The Kaiyo Maru No. 5 has long been understood to have been sunk by an underwater volcano on September 24, 1952, with the loss of all 31 souls on board. Also, Brian Dunning, host of the Skeptoid podcast, noted that despite claims of legends about the Devil’s Sea going back centuries in Japan, no mention of the Triangle shows up in books or news articles until twenty years after the Kaiyo Maru sinking. Even legends like the one the Chinese had about the hostile dragon can be explained by the region’s often volatile volcanic activity.
Also also, the Japanese name for the area, ma no umi, has been applied to many different areas, including the Bay of Bengal, the Korea Strait, the Taiwan Strait, Lake Baikal, and the seas around the U.K. and the Chinese island of Hainan. So yeah, to the Japanese, the Dragon’s Triangle really isn’t anything special.
4. The Lake Michigan Triangle
Some have claimed that this stretch of water in the only one of the Great Lakes located entirely within America’s borders is even more dangerous than the Bermuda Triangle. That’s certainly a bold claim to make for an area that’s not located over the open ocean. Before we look at the probability of supernatural goings-on, let us examine some of the supposedly anomalous incidents reported in this triangle:
- Le Griffon (1679)
- This vessel, launched in the Niagara River the same year it vanished, belonged to the French explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. The ship was last seen on September 18 when it left from an island in what is now Green Bay in Wisconsin, bound for the Niagara region with a load of furs. The ship, and its six crew members, were never seen again. The ship remains the “holy grail” of Great Lakes shipwrecks to this day.
- The Mary McClane (1883)
- One of the more bizarre reports from the Triangle’s history comes from the crew of this Chicag0-based tugboat, who claimed to have been bombarded by giant chunks of ice falling out of a clear blue sky while out on the lake. The deluge lasted for about a half-hour and left large dents in their wooden boat’s hull.
- The Thomas Hume (May 21, 1892)
- This three-masted schooner vanished after setting out from Chicago en route to Muskegon, Michigan, with a cargo of lumber. Her companion, the schooner Rouse-Simmons, decided to return to the shelter of the port as a storm rolled in. The Thomas decided to press onward and was never seen above water again. Her wreck was discovered in 150 feet of water in 2006.
- The Rouse-Simmons (November 22, 1912)
- The so-called “Christmas Tree Ship” itself would fall victim to the Triangle twenty years later as it was transporting Christmas trees from Thompson, Michigan to Chicago. Unlike the Thomas Hume, the Rouse-Simmons vanished in clear weather and was apparently sighted flying a distress flag. By the time a lifeboat from a neighboring ship reached its location, no trace of the schooner could be found. However, Wikipedia helpfully mentions that a storm had swept the area the day before, which may help demystify the incident a bit. In any case, the ship’s wreck has also been discovered, this time in 1971 near Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, in 172 feet of water. Her ghost is still reported sailing on Lake Michigan to this day.
- Mini-Tunguska Event (November 26, 1919)
- This one of several incidents in the Great Lakes region that has been blamed on UFOs. Several southern Michigan residents reported seeing two large balls of fire descend on Lake Michigan and, upon impact, make an explosion so powerful that it shook the Earth as far away as South Bend, Indiana. Contemporary news reports of the incident (perhaps more plausibly) attribute the incident to a meteorite.
- The Rosabelle (1921)
- This two-masted schooner was found capsized with all eleven crew members, all members of the Benton Harbor House of David, nowhere to be seen. The most baffling aspect of this case is that the ship showed evidence of having been in a collision, even though no other ships claimed to have collided with the schooner. Then again, some speculated at the time of the Thomas Hume’s disappearance that a larger ship had run it over, and its crew was sworn to secrecy by the captain, so maybe that’s the case here.
- The O.M. McFarland (April 28, 1937)
- This wasn’t a case of the ship disappearing, but rather its captain, George R. Donner. The fifty-eight-year-old had retired to his cabin, exhausted after having painstakingly guided his ship through icy and dangerous waters. A few hours later, as the ship neared its destination in Port Washington, Wisconsin, several crew members went to Donner’s cabin to wake him. When they received no answer, they broke down the door, only to find him gone. The so-called mystery behind this incident lies behind the supposed fact that Donner’s cabin was locked from the inside. However, Jeff Wagg, writing for the James Randi Educational Foundation, couldn’t find any primary sources that mention this detail, which might demystify the case a bit.
- Northwest Airlines Flight 2501 (June 23, 1950)
- This incident is probably the most famous disappearance to come out of the Triangle and was even the deadliest commercial airline disaster in the U.S. at the time. The DC-4 propliner was flying at 3500 feet 18 miles NNW of Benton Harbor, Michigan when its pilot requested a descent to 2500 feet after encountering turbulence. Soon after, it lost radio contact, and witnesses onshore reported hearing sputtering engines and seeing a flash of light. In contrast to some reports that say the only trace of the plane discovered was a blanket bearing the airline’s logo, the Coast Guard reported seeing an oil slick, debris, and human remains at the crash site. Certain reports that mysterious lights were seen over Lake Michigan on the night of the plane’s disappearance might be less easy to disprove. In any case, no trace of the main wreckage of the plane or its 55 passengers and 3 crew has been found since.
- Steve Kubacki (February 21, 1978)
- Kubacki’s case is certainly one of the strangest missing persons’ cases I’ve come across. This former Hope College student’s strange story begins in February of 1978 when he went out on a ski trip near Saugatuck, Michigan, and never returned. The only traces of him that could be found were his skiing equipment, his backpack, and a set of footprints that abruptly stopped on the shores of the lake. However, the plot thickened when Kubacki suddenly turned up alive and well in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on May 5, 1979, a full 700 miles away from his hometown. All that he could remember was that he lost consciousness at some point during the hike and woke up in Massachusetts wearing a completely different set of clothes and carrying a bag and maps that he did not recognize. Shortly after returning to Michigan, he expressed a desire to retrace his steps on that fateful hike, hoping to discover answers to the mystery. If he did figure anything out, he has kept it to himself and refuses to talk about the incident. He currently works as a psychologist in the Pacific Northwest.
- Other Missing Persons’ Cases (21st Century)
- Sadly, others who have disappeared in the region have not been as lucky. Christopher Hallaxs, thirty years old and an experienced outdoorsman, vanished on March 17, 2004, while heading out to his cabin in the Tahquamenon Falls State Park area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. His snowshoe tracks ended in a tangled wooded swampland. He had stashed several food caches in the area in case he ever got lost, but none had any food missing when searchers checked them. The only other trace of him found was a spent shell casing.
- Another man would go missing from the Tahquamenon River area four years later. 73-year-old Joe Clewley drove out to the region to hike with his dog Chip on July 13, 2008 and never returned. Despite an extensive search, neither man nor dog was anywhere to be seen. Chip inexplicably turned up at Clewley’s cabin on August 1st, malnourished but alive. Clewley, sadly, has yet to do the same.
- No less than three days after Chip’s reappearance, 35-year-old Derrick Henegan was reported missing in nearby Newberry by his pregnant girlfriend when he failed to meet her at a local deer hunting spot. Local authorities suspect foul play was involved.
- Amber Rose Smith was only two and a half when she disappeared from the front yard of her own home in Newaygo County in the summer of 2013. She was playing with the family dogs and had vanished in the time it took for her father to step inside and relieve himself. Much like Kubacki, Amber, thankfully, would reappear, this time on a road two miles from her house the very next day. How a two-year-old managed to navigate that distance is anyone’s guess.
- Discovery of underwater “Stonehenge” (2007)
- Some fringe theorists have suggested that this underwater rock formation, discovered under forty feet of water in Grand Traverse Bay by archaeologist Mike Holley in September of 2007, might be connected with the disappearances. It should be noted that the formation is not a megalith in the same sense as Salisbury Plain’s famous standing stones. It is merely a line of smaller rocks extending about a mile in length, one of which bears a carving resembling a mastodon. Researchers believe prehistoric Native American tribes used it to herd caribou. Its precise location has not been publicly disclosed, both out of a desire to preserve the site for future study and due to the wishes of the local Native American tribes.
In all, the Lake Michigan Triangle story seems to have as many holes in it as the modern-day reports from the Dragon’s Triangle. A lot of the mysterious incidents there, as with the ones from the Devil’s Sea, have been proven to have mundane causes. Unanswered questions remain, especially in the Kubacki case, but in any case, it seems that the paranormal club has overstated its case here somewhat.
5. Marysburgh Vortex (Lake Ontario)
This one strikes a little close to home for me, seeing how I live in the Saint Lawrence River Valley. This particular Triangle seems to have been particularly dangerous in the late 19th and early 20th century, with as many as 100 ships reported lost in the area. Granted, the vast number of shipwrecks can be rationally explained by the abundance of shoals, inlets, and strange currents. This is on the western edge of the Thousand Islands archipelago, after all.
Still, stories that seem to defy rational explanation have been reported in the area. On June 29, 1900, a caravan of three schooners, the Picton, the Anne Minnes, and the Acacia, were carrying a cargo of coal from Rochester, New York, to Bellville Kingston in Ontario. At one point during the voyage, the caravan ran into heavy seas, and the Picton suddenly sank. When the two other ships reached the sinking site, they found lots of wreckage but no bodies from the seven crew members. One crew member on the Anne Minnes claimed to have seen a boy in the water who did not attempt to grab a rope that the crew member threw at him. Weeks later, a child found a message in a bottle from the Picton’s captain that read:
John Sidley, Captain of the schooner Picton, in great peril. Expect to sink at any minute. Goodbye to all friends. Finder please report to my wife.John Sidley, captain of the Picton, June 29, 1900
Some other sources have claimed that Sidley went on to say that he had tied himself and his eleven-year-old son Vesley together. What would drive him to such actions is anyone’s guess.
Another incident from May of 1889 involved the three-masted timber drogher Bavaria, which was found run aground on a shoal near Kingston. However, when salvagers boarded her, they could find no signs of the crew, who had left freshly baked bread loaves in the oven. The ship was found to be seaworthy and towed back to Kingston, but the mystery of her missing crew continues to this day.
As modern technology has largely staunched the tide of shipwrecks in the region, UFO sightings and magnetic anomalies have largely taken their place. Some have blamed the magnetic anomalies that mess with ship’s compasses on the Charity Shoal, a ring-shaped formation located 7.5 miles southwest of Wolf Island, halfway between Sacketts Harbor, New York, and Amherst Island, Ontario. While scientists have yet to determine if it is, in fact, a meteor crater, many other meteor craters have a history of producing magnetic anomalies, which certainly could provide a more rational explanation for the large number of shipwrecks there.
6. Coudersport Triangle (Pennsylvania)
Unlike the other Triangles on this list, this one only has one supernatural claim to fame: thunderbirds (also black panthers, but they aren’t as prominent in local lore).
The thunderbird sightings seem to be centered on the Black Forest region of northern Pennsylvania, which encompasses parts of Clinton, Potter, Lycoming, Tioga, Cameron, and McKean County. Also included in this area is Tiadaughton State Forest. Local folklorist Robert Lyman described their territory back in 1973 as “in the southern edge of the Black Forest, north of Susquehanna River, between Pine Creek at the east and Kettle Creek at the west. All reports for the past 20 years come from this area.”
Sightings of the giant birds date back to the nineteenth century, that is, if one doesn’t count the many times these birds show up in Native American folklore. Lyman himself claimed to have seen a large vulture sitting on a road outside Coudersport in the early 1940s that proceeded to unfold its twenty-foot wingspan and fly off into the nearby woods. Another sighting from 1969 comes from the wife of Clinton County sheriff John Bovle, who claimed to have seen a gray-colored bird with a seventy-five-foot wingspan splash down on Little Pine Creek while she was sitting in front of the family cabin. Three other men would come forward that summer claiming that they saw a giant bird carry off a 15-pound fawn near Kettle Creek. A group of motorists in Lycoming County reported seeing a dark-colored winged creature with a wingspan “almost like [that of] an airplane” flying toward the town of Jersey Shore on October 28, 1970.
Sightings across Pennsylvania have continued well into the 21st century. A wave of sightings occurred in the northwestern corner of the state in June and July of 2001, with witnesses describing a dark gray bird with a 15 to 17-foot wingspan. Other sightings include a black bird with a ten-foot wingspan reported near Bryn Athyn in the opposite corner of the state on May 26, 2013, and a black or grayish-brown bird with a 10-15 foot wingspan seen over South Greensburg on September 25, 2001.
7. Virginia Triangle (Virginia/North Carolina)
No, this isn’t about the Historic Triangle of Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg. This Triangle refers to a vortex that, at least according to Loren Coleman, exists over the Great Dismal Swamp that straddles the border between Virginia and North Carolina.
There is a lot of actual history behind this Triangle that is just as, if not more, interesting than the paranormal history. The swamp was “discovered” in 1655 by William Drummond, and the lake in the center of the swamp (one of only two natural lakes in Virginia) was named after him. Of course, Chesapeake and Chowan natives lived in the region long before the white man came, but of course, the white man didn’t care back then. Indeed, no less a figure than George Washington himself sought to drain the entire swamp and replace it with farmland. While the swamp’s massive size rendered that plan unworkable, timber was still a major industry in the swamp. By the time the swamp was designated as a National Wildlife Refuge in 1973, it had been reduced to half its size.
But by far, the most fascinating part of the swamp’s history is its “maroon communities.” These communities were largely formed by enslaved Africans who escaped and fled into the wilderness to avoid recapture. The maroon communities dated back to at least 1700 and lasted all the way until the Civil War. Harriet Beecher Stowe, famed abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, even based a novel on the Great Dismal Swamp maroons called Dred: A Tale of the Dismal Swamp, published in 1856 by Phillips, Samson and Co.
Of course, when a place has a history as rich as that, ghost stories tend to follow. Some of the paranormal phenomena reported in the swamp include ghost lights, hunters reporting their kills vanishing with nary a drop of blood in sight, and ghostly figures dressed in anything from colonial-era garb to early 20th-century lumberjack fashion. One story tells of a phantom cemetery that appears to anyone who’s lost their way in the swamp. Others tell of sightings of giant snakes and Bigfoot-type creatures in the swamp.
But the most famous paranormal tale to come from the swamp is the tale of a pair of star-crossed Native American lovers. After the bride died on the morning they were supposed to be wed, the groom, driven mad with grief, claimed he could see her paddling a white canoe on Lake Drummond. He constructed a makeshift raft to try to reach her, but the raft collapsed out from under him, and he drowned. To this day, the ghost of the Lady of the Lake and her lover continue to haunt the shores of Lake Drummond in their white canoe. The story has inspired several works of art, including A Ballad-The Lake of Dismal Swamp by Irish poet Thomas More, “The Lake” by Edgar Allen Poe, and The White Canoe, a hand puppet play by the notoriously macabre children’s writer and illustrator Edward Gorey, found among his papers after his death in 2000.
Another mystery from the Great Dismal Swamp concerns how exactly Lake Drummond came into existence. There are no rivers that flow into or out of it, as it is the swamp’s highest point. Some geologists believe a tectonic shift formed it. Others, pointing to Native American legends of a “firebird” that created the lake, have argued that it was formed either by a meteor or a part of the peat layer that underlies the entire swamp catching fire.
8. Big Lick Triangle (Indiana/Kentucky)
This Triangle comes to us from local folklorist Ben Schneider, who created a website cataloging the menagerie of paranormal phenomena that has occurred in an area he calls the Big Lick Triangle. The Triangle gets its name from its three supposed vertices: the town of French Lick in Orange County, Indiana; Big Bone Lick State Park in Boone County, Kentucky; and Pope Lick Creek in Jefferson County, Kentucky. It covers 2,269.9 square miles and includes parts of 10 counties in Indiana and seven counties in Kentucky. As one can see from the picture above, there’s a lot of weird stuff going on there. Allow me to recount some of the more interesting occurrences in chronological order:
Clark County, Indiana (1170): The Welsh Prince Madoc allegedly sets up a fort on what is now Charleston State Park after landing in Mobile Bay, Alabama, and sailing up the Mississippi. Unwelcoming natives eventually kill the prince and his entire company. Despite tales of blonde Welsh-speaking “white Indians” in the region, no hard evidence of the story has come to light. One surveyor claimed to have discovered a stone fortification on the shores of the Ohio River in 1873, but it was reportedly cannibalized to help build a bridge across the river in 1888.
Trimble County, Kentucky (colonial era): The natives warn white settlers to stay away from this region for fear of the “wild people.” Settlers later report hairy men throwing rocks and tree limbs, stealing livestock, breaking into outdoor freezers, and looking through their windows.
Floyd County, Indiana (1700s): Several Native Americans are killed in skirmishes with settlers. Their ghosts reportedly haunt the region to this day.
Floyd County, Indiana (early 1800s): A giant snake, 30-40 feet in length and wide as a barrel, is reportedly seen by pioneer farmers.
French Lick, Indiana (late 1800s): Two black horses and their colt are struck by lightning and killed. Their ghosts have been seen running for shelter ever since whenever a storm rolls in.
Vevay, Indiana (1891-1894): Several sightings of creatures called “mud mermaids” are reported along the Ohio River’s shores. They were said to be lizard-like but with “strikingly human” faces and showed no signs of intelligence.
Henryville, Indiana (early 1900s): A young woman dies in a car wreck on Blue Lick Road and is buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery. She now haunts the cemetery as “the Green Lady,” throwing herself on parked cars and leaving green ectoplasm behind.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Jefferson County, Kentucky (1910 onwards): The former tuberculosis hospital has become infamous as one of the most haunted places in the United States. As such, many popular ghost hunting shows have visited the location, including the teams from Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Most Haunted, and my personal favorite, Buzzfeed Unsolved.
Pope Lick Trestle, Jefferson County, Kentucky (the 1940s/50s): Stories of the satyr-like Pope Lick Goatman begin. Stories of the Goatman attacking passersby with a bloody ax or luring them to get run over by oncoming trains are only some of the stories that are told about him in local legend.
Boone County, Kentucky (the 1950s): A Bigfoot nicknamed “Satan” by locals terrorizes several people in the Big Bone Area.
Louisville, Kentucky (1953): A man claims a grey alien contacted him. The city has allegedly been a UFO hotspot ever since.
French Lick, Indiana (1960s): A Bigfoot-like creature with glowing red eyes is seen several times and dubbed “Fluorescent Freddy” by locals. Several large tracks are also frequently spotted in nearby Hoosier National Forest.
Warsaw, Kentucky (the 1960s): A family reportedly dies in a house fire. The site of the tragedy is now allegedly haunted by sirens, ghostly fire trucks, and tortured screams.
Rising Sun, Indiana (1969): A farmer’s power goes out as several UFOs flock over his house. He later sees a Bigfoot in his yard and finds four-toed footprints.
Hoosier National Forest, Indiana (1970s): A wave of thunderbird sightings occurs in the park.
Lockport, Kentucky (the 1970s): A Bigfoot reportedly harasses several farms, stealing chickens and canned foods and throwing rocks. A local farmer’s wife claims to have chased it off with a broom several times.
Milton, Kentucky (1975): A “lizard man” with zebra stripes, a forked tongue, and bulging eyes was seen roaming the woods around the local automobile junkyard.
Ohio County, Indiana (1980): A man reports a Bigfoot charged at him as he was getting out of his car on State Road 56. He apparently scares it off the next night by shooting at it.
Boone County, Kentucky (1980): A Bigfoot jumps into the Ohio River to escape a scared family who starts shooting at it.
Corydon, Indiana (1987): Wave of UFO sightings, reportedly saucer-shaped.
Clarksville, Indiana (2006): A giant fireball is seen making figure-eights in the sky.
Bon’s Chapel Graveyard, Paoli, Indiana: The headstone of a soldier killed in battle is seen glowing on some night, with the black-clad ghost of his lover standing over it.
Blue River, Indiana: Local legend tells of a woman decapitated by a fishing line strung across the river. Her ghost is still seen on the river banks, searching for her head to this day.
Charlestown, Indiana: The ghost of a hobo who died on Tunnel Mill Road is said to manifest on 10 Penny Bridge whenever a person turns their car engine and lights off. If one leaves a row of ten pennies on the road, they will either be gone or scattered when you turn the lights back on.
Scottsburg, Indiana: Several ghosts reportedly haunt the local Bridgewater/Owens Cemetery. One called “Old Red Eyes” reportedly circles parked cars and leaves handprints. A white horse chases gawkers at night, and the tombstone of a soldier who awakens to guard the cemetery gate every night glows in the dark.
Madison, Indiana: Reportedly has several haunted locations. Charlie, the ghost haunting the elevator at the Jefferson County Library, apparently has a habit of sexually harassing female passengers. The Ohio Theater is haunted by a heartbroken chorus girl who committed suicide there. The old State Hospital is reportedly haunted by the ghosts of mentally ill people who were imprisoned there.
Big Bone Lick State Park, Kentucky: The so-called “birthplace of American paleontology” is reportedly haunted by several ghosts, many of them Native American. An evil spirit who was murdered in the park reportedly delights in stealing children.
Fort Knox, Jefferson County: Several silent black helicopters have been reported flying into and out of the Bullion Depository’s airspace.
And I think I’ve made my point here. Suffice it to say, this Triangle offers a lot for the avid legend tripper. Just remember to make sure you’re not liable to be arrested for trespassing in the course of your explorations.
9. Nevada Triangle (Nevada/California)
This Triangle is said to cover the area between Las Vegas, Fresno, and Reno. That’s certainly a lot of territory, including such diverse areas as the Great Basin Desert, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, three national parks (Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon), even Area 51. Could that explain why over two thousand planes have either crashed or gone missing over the area in the last seventy years? Well, before we jump from zero to aliens, let’s look over the facts of some of the more famous Nevada Triangle incidents.
Leonard C. Lydon (1941): This Air Force Lieutenant is leading a fighter squadron on a training exercise over the Kings Canyon region when a malfunction leads him to bail out of his plane. The wreckage has never been found, despite Lydon saying that he witnessed where the plane went down.
The Lost B-24 (December 5, 1943): This aircraft was scheduled for a routine night training mission between Fresno, Bakersfield, and Tucson when it lost radio contact. The mystery almost deepened when another B-24, part of a squadron of nine sent to look for the plane, also vanished. Fortunately, two of that plane’s six crew members survived and revealed that it had been lost when the pilot mistook the Huntington Lake Reservoir’s frozen surface for a forest clearing. The wreckage was recovered in 1955 when the reservoir was drained to help make repairs to the dam. The other missing B-24 was finally found next to a then-unnamed lake in July of 1960 by geographical surveyors. The lake was named Hester Lake as a memorial to the plane’s co-pilot, 2nd Lieutenant Robert M. Hester.
David Steeves (May 9, 1957): This time, the plane was a T-33 training jet on a flight from San Francisco to Arizona. This was another case where the pilot lived to tell the tale, although it took him fifty-four days to reach civilization in Kings Canyon. He explained that something exploded in his aircraft, forcing him to bail out. He badly injured his ankles upon landing and was forced to drag his parachute behind him to keep warm at night. He spent 15 days in freezing temperatures until he found a National Park Service cabin 20 miles away from where he landed. He nursed himself back to health with the canned foods he found inside and hunted and fished until he felt ready to rediscover civilization. The only trace of his plane that has been found so far is the canopy, discovered by a group of Boy Scouts in 1977.
Charles Ogle (August 1964): This wealthy real estate tycoon vanished while on a flight from Oakland to Las Vegas. His disappearance is especially odd when you consider that he was a trained pilot from his days in the Marine Corps. No trace of the plane or its pilot has ever been found.
The Gambler’s Special (February 18, 1969): More formally known as Hawthorne Nevada Airlines Flight 708, this plane, which was carrying 32 prospective gamblers and three crew on a round trip between Long Beach, Burbank, and Hawthorne, Nevada, was lost with all hands. Five members of the search party died before the wreckage was discovered on Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous United States. No cause for the crash has ever been determined.
Ross Mulhare (July 11, 1986): This Air Force Major lost his life when the F-117 he was piloting crashed into a mountain near Bakersfield. As with the above case, no cause for the crash has been determined.
Steve Fossett (September 3, 2007): Fossett’s story is probably the most famous to come out of the Triangle. The businessman and record-setting aviator vanished along with his single-engine Bellanca Super Decathlon over Nevada’s Great Basin Desert. While several plane wrecks were discovered during the month-long search, none of them were Fossett’s. The plane was finally discovered in September of 2008 when a hiker stumbled across his plane, his identification tags, and two of his bones in the Sierra Nevadas, 65 miles south of his take-off site.
Naturally, given the aforementioned Area 51 connection, some are quick to blame UFOs and/or secret government experiments for the high number of plane crashes in the area. However, the more scientifically-minded are quick to point out the Sierra Nevada’s unique and unpredictable geography and weather patterns, particularly the so-called “mountain wave.” This is the local name for the sudden downdrafts and microbursts that occur when the Pacific Jet Stream collides with the Sierras at a perpendicular angle. These downdrafts can even reach speeds of 400 miles per hour, which is certainly bad news for any plane that finds itself at its mercy.
10. Alaska Triangle (Alaska)
This Triangle may be the single largest I’ve covered on this list (the Dragon’s Triangle might be larger, but the paranormal authors can’t seem to make up their mind on exactly how big that Triangle is). It covers much of the Frontier State’s eastern half, spanning between Barrow, Anchorage, and Juneau. According to official sources, the rate of people who go missing in Alaska is about four in every 1,000 people, about twice the national average. In 2007 alone, 2,833 people were reported missing. Keep in mind, this is a state with a total population smaller than the entire city of San Francisco (710,249 vs. 881,549).
Perhaps the most famous disappearance to occur in the Triangle was none other than U.S. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (D-Louisiana). Boggs was in Alaska campaigning on behalf of fellow Democratic Representative Nick Begich. The two were on a flight from Anchorage to Juneau alongside Begich’s aide, Russell Brown, and pilot Don Jonz on October 16, 1972, when the plane seemingly vanished into thin air. The search involved 400 aircraft and numerous boats and covered 32,000 square miles. But it was all for naught, and no trace of the plane or its occupants has ever been found.
Naturally, supernatural portals and UFOs have been blamed. One Japanese pilot on a trip from Iceland to Anchorage even claims to have had a close encounter with a group of three UFOs over Alaskan airspace in 1986. He described one of them as being twice the size of an aircraft carrier and that the two smaller ones zipped in front of his plane at very close range. Air traffic controllers on the ground even caught the strange airships on their radar. The pilot reported seeing the crafts speed up and slow down suddenly and even disappear and reappear as he took evasive maneuvers to try to shake them off. They tailed him for 32 minutes over 400 miles before they finally lost interest and vanished for the last time.
Some fringe theorists have even pointed to the Kushtaka as a culprit for the high vanishing rate. This demonic entity from indigenous Tlingit folklore is a shapeshifting half-man half-otter type creature that lures people into the wilderness by imitating women or children calling for help. It then captures the lost person’s soul and steals it away to its own realm. Sometimes the Kushtaka will violently rip a hapless victim to pieces. Other times the creature will turn victims into a Kushtaka themselves. This is sometimes done because the Kushtaka is trying to save the person from drowning or freezing to death. This gives them the power to shapeshift and perform Jedi mind tricks on humans.
Of course, there are many non-supernatural ways for a person to be lost and never found in eastern Alaska. The Triangle area includes the Barrow Mountain Range, dense forests, hidden caves, massive glaciers with deep crevasses, and lots of untamed wildlife. Heavy snowfall and avalanches can bury a dead body very quickly in the wintertime, and it can be very easy to stumble into one of the three million lakes within Alsaka’s borders and drown. With all those dangers lurking about, it’s probably no wonder so many people have gone missing in the state.
Although in Hale Bogg’s case, some people have brought up that he made a speech viscously attacking J. Edgar Hoover and the F.B.I. in April of 1971. And Hoover certainly was no stranger to playing dirty with his opponents. But that’s all just speculation.
And there you have it: ten supernatural triangles and all the strange unsolved mysteries that have happened in them. Maybe we’ve debunked a few of them along the way, but it was certainly a fun ride. Indeed, there’s a lot more I have to say on the subject of supernatural triangles in the future. For example, I still have at least ten more triangles I could talk about in a future article. I could also examine Ivan T. Sanderson’s so-called “Vile Vortices” (of which the Bermuda Triangle and the Devil’s Sea are a part) to see whether they really are all that vile. I could even cover some of the more famous disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle itself and see whether or not they were really as mysterious as the paranormal crowd makes them out to be.
But that’s all for another time. Join me on the next article where I do a “P.J.’s Ultimate Playlist” episode on my personal favorite rock band of all time. Until next time, beautiful watchers!