By Justin McKinney, Staff Writer
When most people think of paranormal hot spots in Massachusetts, they quickly think of the age-old favorite, Salem.
Between the witch trials and the curses cast upon the town due to the atrocities committed during the trials, many consider it the paranormal capital of New England.
However, one spot right here on the South Coast of Massachusetts seems to be far more paranormally active and shrouded in mystery than Salem: The Bridgewater Triangle.
The Bridgewater Triangle is roughly two hundred miles and encompasses about 17 separate towns in Southeastern Massachusetts. The area has been a breeding ground for paranormal activity for centuries, with UFO sightings occurring as early as 1760.
Outside of UFO sightings, the triangle has played host to Bigfoot sightings, ghost hitchhikers, a slew of murders, satanic rituals, and generally unrestful spirits.
It’s as if this plot of land encompasses every nightmare one can have and brings them to life.
Most of the land in the triangle was taken from Native Americans by settlers in the mid-1700’s, and as legend has it the Natives cursed the land as a last-ditch effort to drive the settlers away.
Some also claim that during King Philip’s War from 1675 and 1678, the Wampanoag tribe lost the scared Wampum Belt in the woods of the Freetown State Forest, located at the southeast corner of the triangle.
Aggravated by the losses in battle and the missing belt, the Wampanoag cursed the land.
To me, both seem highly plausible as both tales are to an extent historically accurate.
Not to mention many have claimed to have seen what I would best describe as Native American demons, known as Pukwudgies, all around the swamp.
According to Native American lore Pukwudgies are short and furry troll-like creatures that attempt to lure humans deep into forests and subsequently kill them.
They have been reported all around the triangle, but most notably in the Freetown State Forest and the Hockomock Swamp in Easton.
Oddly enough, Hockomock translated to English from Wampanoag means “place where spirits dwell.”
The fright does not end at Native American curses and lore, though I must admit I wish it did. From 1978-1988 Freetown State Forest became a hot spot for mob related murders and over fifteen bodies were found in the swamp during that time.
Freetown police also found what appeared to be a small torture chamber in a makeshift bunker, however despite a lengthy investigation they were never able to figure out who built it or why.
While this doesn’t have much to do with the paranormal, I easily find it to be the most disturbing thing in all I’ve learned about the triangle.
Personally, I believe the bunker is connected with the 1978 murder of Mary Lou Arruda. While James M. Kater was charged and convicted of the murder, it was later revealed during several retrials, in this and another case from 1980, that witnesses claimed to have seen Satanic rituals being performed by a cult in the woods where Arruda’s body was found.
It’s also worth noting that in the years since the Arruda and 1980 murder cases, many mutilated cattle have been found around the forest, showing signs of mutilation consistent with that of ritualistic sacrifice.
I suspect the bunker belonged to the cult and that they used for their twisted activities.
In the west end of The Bridgewater Triangle we meet the ghostly hitchhiker who prowls the stretch of Route 44 that connects Rehoboth and Seakonk. Many have claimed to have seen the redheaded hitchhiker walking along the route.
Those who dared to speak with the phantom claimed that he would just smile eerily at them and laugh devilishly. Some have even reported hitting the man with their car as he appeared out of nowhere and then upon investigating they found no body, but heard a sick cackling coming from neighboring woods.
While I have never been to the Freetown State Forest or Route 44, I recently visited the Hockomock Swamp and the only thing I can really say is wow. While I wish I could say that I saw a spirit, I unfortunately did not.
But, I can say that there is something sinister about that place. I walked a relatively shallow distance into the swamp and felt as if I had thousands of angry eyes glaring at me. As I got deeper I began to feel a little ill, even though I had felt fine the entire day leading up to this point.
I left shortly after I began to get sick, and I was only there for give or take a half hour in the evening.
After this experience I can say with all honesty that if you are looking to scare the hell out of yourself for Halloween, pay Hockomock Swamp a visit. It’s only about a half hour from campus, though I’d wager one could get the same thrill out of visiting the (much closer) Freetown State Forest.