Yankee Classic: Ghost Town
Yankee Classic from Mysterious New England, 1971
Here is a tragedy so heinous, a mystery so unfathomable, an abduction so strange, as to cause all who hear the tale to look askance, and shake their heads.
Have you ever tramped the trails leading from the White Mountains down onto the eastern bank of the Connecticut River? If you have, you will readily recognize the place I want to tell you about. There is
a deep gouge dug out of the mountains where a small stream rushes through the rock bed. The water sprays and spirals as it leaves the black stones behind in its haste to join the river. Deep down into that ancient
strata it has worn its path during a million years past.
High along its sides rise the cliffs furred with evergreens which seldom see the direct rays of the sun. On bright days shafts of sunlight seep down into the undergrowth where newts and salamanders and snakes coil lazily and stuporously upon the shelves of projecting ore. A long, winding and much-decayed corduroy trail follows the convolutions of what fifty years
ago was a busy lumber trail.
About a mile to the south the pinnacle of the mountain is crowned by a strange rock formation remarkably resembling an Indian’s profile. The mountain rises an abrupt sixteen hundred feet at the water’s edge.
Strange tales are told of the early days in this region, which is uninhabited, although now three hundred years have elapsed since the advent of the white man in the New World.
Some distance to the north, perhaps a mile-and-a-half by modern reckoning, if the stranger follows the tracks of an abandoned railroad, he may still come upon the remains of an ancient village. Here, where once upon a time smoke curled from the chimneys of many happy
homes, and the reflections of the evening sun were followed after dark by the gleam of tapers and tallow candles, stand deserted houses. Shinglesided with slate roofs, and peaks sagging and the window ledges long since rotted by the heavy dews which descend upon the valley, these are the mute evidences of a once thriving rural community.
In these very houses a tragedy so heinous, a mystery so unfathomable, an abduction so strange was enacted as to cause all who hear the tale to look askance at me, and shake their heads.
In the days preceding the Civil War there were rumors rife in the locality concerning a band of wandering Indians, descendants of those tribes that originally inhabited the headwaters of the Connecticut. It is a fact proved by the students of Indian lore in our country, the same who can point out the sites of the old camp grounds of these tribes, that this region was a famous meeting place for powwows. Deep in the recesses of the hills are to be found even now the burial grounds of their braves.
On more than one occasion I have visited a great open mead where mound after mound marks the interment of thousands of red men who succumbed to the smallpox. That was the scourge which these native Americans came to know as the WHITE MAN’ S CURSE, and to fear more than his firewater and his flintlocks, because they looked upon it as being supernatural.