You’ve heard of the Bermuda Triangle. We may have a terrifying triangle of our very own. As labeled by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, author of “Mysterious America” and founder of the International Cryptozoology Museum (www.cryptozoologymuseum.com), the Bridgewater Triangle comprises 200 square miles and 17 towns. The towns of Abington, Freetown, and Rehoboth make up the tips of the triangle.
Some pretty bizarre stuff has happened here over the years. There’s Hockomock Swamp, a zone that could populate its own creature feature. In 1980, a group of canoeists sighted a “small, red-haired, chimpanzee-like ape” in Coleman’s words, in the swamp’s Lake Nippenicket, a.k.a. “The Nip.” An eyewitness account of a small, hairy creature also shows up in the 2013 documentary “The Bridgewater Triangle,” by Aaron Cadieux and Manny Famolare. In the skies above the triangle, folks have seen large, unidentified birds, including a “tremendous winged creature over 6 feet all” at Bird Hill in Easton, according to Coleman. And let’s not forget the Pukwudgies. These gray-skinned, dwarflike creatures, part of Native American (Delaware and Wampanoag) traditions, are among the nastier denizens of the Triangle. One of them attempted to push a woman over a ledge not long ago, as seen in the documentary. “Weird indeed, but strange things happen in the Bridgewater Triangle,” Coleman says. Add UFO sightings and possible satanic rituals, and you’ve got a real haunted hot spot.
Reportedly, FX is developing an apocalyptic horror thriller about the Bridgewater Triangle. Stay tuned.
The Wayside Inn, Sudbury
If you’ve gotta have a ghost, at least make it a musical sort who smells nice. That’s the story at this historic 10-room inn, where Jerusha Howe is as popular in death as she was in life. Howe, whose father, Adam, owned the inn from 1796 until 1840, served as its hostess, says innkeeper/general manager Steve Pickford. She played the piano beautifully, on what was the first piano in Sudbury, still owned by the inn. Known as “the Belle of Sudbury,” Howe was very pretty, and she had her pick of suitors, Pickford says.
But she picked the wrong fella. As the story goes, she was smitten with an Englishman, who went back home but promised to return to Sudbury. That didn’t happen, and a heartbroken Howe died of consumption in the 1840s in her early 40s, according to the innkeeper.
Apparently, she lingers at the inn, waiting for her lover to return. Guests hear piano playing in the middle of the night — often the “Copenhagen Waltz” — and they report an orange scent, thought to be Howe’s perfume. Some report ghostly flashes of light. Ghost-happy guests request room nine (Howe’s bedroom) and 10 (her sewing room). In the morning, “Everyone’s talking about it — ‘Did you see anything?’ ‘Did you hear anything?’” Pickford says. People leave notes behind, in the drawers of bureaus, detailing their peculiar experiences as part of the inn’s “Secret Drawer Society.” Pickford personally hasn’t had an encounter with the ghost in his 25 years at the inn. He’s OK with that, and has no issue with the hostess who’s also a ghost-ess. After all, “People come here for the ghost.” 72 Wayside Inn Road, Sudbury. 978-443-1776, www.wayside.org
USS Salem, Quincy
Launched in 1947, the Navy cruiser USS Salem never saw battle, but it’s seeing a lot of action now — as a ghost ship. Open to the public, the “Sea Witch” is Ghost Central, crewed by a squadron of spirits.
Featured on The Travel Channel’s “Most Terrifying Places” last season, the vessel — the world’s only preserved heavy cruiser — is considered one of the most haunted ships on the planet. “My group (Greater Boston Paranormal Associates) has done investigations all over the Northeast, and while there are ‘heavier’ locations, with deeper, darker entities, I believe USS Salem is the most active location we’ve ever visited,” ghost-wise, says GBPA’s Don DeCristofaro.
Might they be the restless souls of nearly 1,000 earthquake victims in Greece, who were rescued by sailors aboard the USS Salem in 1953? Or are they the ghosts of crew whose own ships exploded nearby, when the Salem served as a makeshift hospital? To this day, visitors report paranormal experiences. Apparitions make fleeting (ahem) appearances throughout the ship, wandering the decks and haunting the machinery room. The ship’s hatches seem to randomly (and noisily) open and close. The sound of a woman screaming was recorded using an Electronic Voice Phenomena device. No wonder that this ship is a favorite haunt for paranormal investigators. In fact, the GBPA (www.thegbpa.com) hosts five-hour paranormal investigations aboard the ship on select Friday nights. Guests use high-tech ghost-hunting equipment including electromagnetic field detectors and infrared video cameras as they search for—and maybe even communicate with — the undead. All proceeds benefit the care and preservation of the ship. (Self-guided tours are available too, through mid-November.) We visited on our own, in broad daylight, and felt chills as we passed through some of the spaces. Paranormal Investigation tours, $45 (next dates: Oct. 30 and Nov. 7.) 549 South St., Pier 3, Quincy. 617-479-7900, www.uss-salem.org
Omni Parker House Hotel, Boston
This local landmark has numerous claims to fame — Boston cream pie was invented here, and JFK proposed to Jackie at the hotel’s restaurant, for example — but it is also infamous as the city’s most haunted hotel. Many believe that hotel founder Harvey D. Parker simply refuses to check out. Known as a hands-on guy while alive, Parker is said to be responsible for a host of ghostly goings-on, post-mortem, including appearing at the foot of a child’s bed to inquire, “Are you enjoying your stay?” Now that’s service.
The spectral figure that pops up in guest rooms and roams hallways fits Parker’s description to a tee, they say. Some hear the sound of a rocking chair in use — odd, since there are no such chairs in the hotel. According to the hotel’s blog, security has been summoned to Room 1040 on several occasions to investigate noise complaints — and each time, the room was unoccupied. Bellmen have reported bright orbs of light floating down the corridor. Elevators open on the third floor (the floor Charles Dickens occupied) without anyone pushing the button.
Several stories concern Room 303, including the smell of booze and cigar smoke, and the sound of raucous laughter, coming from the (empty) room. Who is this hard-partying ghost? Hard to tell, but you can’t book the room and solve the mystery yourself. After complaints by guests, the room was converted to a storage closet. 60 School St., Boston. 617-227-8600, www.omnihotels.com
The Mount, Lenox
“As a child recovering from typhoid fever, Edith Wharton read a ghost story. She suffered a relapse and blamed it on that story,” says Robert Oakes, a guide at The Mount who’s led ghost tours for 10 years. She described it as being plunged into a world “haunted by formless horrors” and pursued by a “dark, indefinable menace.” Yikes. Cross that one off the list of bedtime stories.
Wharton wrote some ghost stories of her own — perhaps to purge the demons — in addition to the society novels that made her famous. But Oakes doesn’t believe she’s the spirit who’s haunting The Mount, where she lived from 1902 to 1911. Her husband, Teddy, is the likely suspect. Their marriage was difficult, and Teddy suffered from depression. His misery may have imprinted itself on the location, with its dark energy, Oakes surmises. Moreover, visitors sense a male figure touching their heads in what was Teddy’s den. Reports of shadowy figures on the property are commonplace, and they often bedeviled members of Shakespeare & Company, when the theater troupe was based at The Mount in the 1980s and ’90s.
And the ghostly tales keep (ahem) mounting. A group of psychics visited last September and were picking up eerie audio recordings, Oakes says. “They told me to talk to the spirits. So I asked, ‘Do you know my name?’ In a gravelly tone, a voice said, ‘Robert.’ My hair stood up on end!”
TV’s “Ghost Hunters” has visited twice, and captured thermal images of a shadowy figure. A photo taken by a visitor through a bathroom window revealed what looks like a skeletal woman’s face.
Are they ghosts? Oakes isn’t sure, “but I love the mystery of it,” he says. He invites guests to “use your imagination, immerse yourself and see what you might experience.
“It may be a ghost, but it may also be something else that we don’t really understand.” Live-streamed ghost tours, Friday nights at 8 p.m. through Oct. 30; $10. 2 Plunkett St., Lenox. 413-551-5111, www.edithwharton.org
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at [email protected]