Updated: Nov 24, 2020
1992 the phrase Bennington Triangle was coined by Joseph Citro, a local author on all things ghostly in New England.
History of Glastenbury Mountain
The territory was home to tribes of the Algonquin nation, specifically the Abenaki tribe. The tribe is rumored to have settled in the lower elevations of the Champlain Valley, known for its prominent fishing and vibrant land.
According to some lore, the Abenaki also believed that their god lived at the top of the mountain. Their god, Tabaldak, is the creator of the Abenaki and Algonquian people of northeastern North America. His name translates "The Owner." According to legend he created people out of stones but thought these people's hearts were too cold, so in turn, he broke up these stones and left them scattered over the Abenaki land. Perhaps this the explanation of the cairns scattered all over the Long Trail. When he realized stone would not work to create the people, he tried wood, and out of this came the Abenaki people.
According to the tribe the mountain was cursed, mainly in part because of the ever-changing winds on the top of the mountain. They would only go to the mountain to bury their dead, but they would not go to the top. Upon looking at the distance between the Champlain valley and Glastenbury there are 131 miles between them, would the Abenaki have traveled that far to bury their dead? However, some lore suggests that the curse came after the British and French settlers arrived. They believe that Tabaldak was angry because the Abenaki had warned them to stay away from the mountain, but they had not listened. While others believe it was the spirits of the dead and the mountain spirits that cursed the land.
The Abenaki lore also consists of a "man-eating stone" that can consume a man if they step on it. According to the legend, you would not even have time to scream. Abenaki legends speak of Asinikiwakw, who were not transformed into humans but man-eating stone giants, who were defeated by the culture hero Gluskabe This is said to be a story created by sinkholes in the area, a common occurrence. Other lore tells of the Abenaki tribe legend of a Kee-wakw or Giwakwa. This creature was a giant, cannibalistic, half-animal half-human creature that inhabited the forests throughout New England. Some legends describe them once as humans whose hearts turned to ice due to either possession by an evil spirit, or a violent crime, such as cannibalism or allowing a person to starve. This is remarkably similar to the lore surrounding Wendigos. However, they are said to be in the great lakes and central Canada areas. Is it possible that there is Wendigos in the area too?
In 1761 Benning Wentworth, a man who lived a rather proud and pompous life was governor of New Hampshire. He had been given permission by King George II to create charters in the lands surrounding New Hampshire. He drew up land charters for the territory that was not officially claimed other than by the natives. This territory would soon become Vermont. Along with many possible townships, he drew up one around the mountain in the southwestern part of Vermont that was also just northeast of a town called Bennington. The town was named after him. He named the mountain Glastenbury in honor of Glastenbury, England, and the small associated township Glastenbury.
Not long after that, the British and French settlers began to arrive, the Abenaki peoples warned them not to settle on the mountain, but they chose to ignore the warnings and settle in the area regardless.
However, it was not until after the civil war, the township of Glastenbury began to bustle into a booming coal and logging community. By the 1880s they had stripped the mountain of its trees.
The Curse Begins to Take Hold
In 1892, a sawmill worker, Henry McDowell, drunkenly bludgeoned a coworker to death with a rock after he heard voices telling him to attack. He was committed to an asylum but managed to escape and vanish. It is rumored he got lost in the Green Forest on his way to Canada, while other rumors say he became a Wildman living off the land in the mountains.
Five years later, John Harbour was a Woodford citizen who went into Bickford Hollow, just south of Glastenbury, to hunt. He was shot by persons unknown but was found with his fully loaded gun just next to him and seemed to have been dragged several yards. The odd murder is still unsolved.
In 1894, after the logging and coal business dried up, but the community was remodeled into a tourist destination for the summer. The railroad was converted into a trolly line to take visitors up to the mountain from the valley below.
After the first winter the snows began to melt and without the trees to stop the fresh snowmelt waters a flood hit the community. The flood destroyed the community, uprooting the rail lines, destroying buildings down to their foundations, and ultimately making the tourist destination unhabitable. Everyone except for a family of three members left the mountain community of Glastenbury.
Years later when people began to return to the mountain for recreation, they discovered the darkness that the Abenaki talked about had never left.
There was also the lesser-known case of thirteen-year-old Melvin Hills who vanished in the Bennington area on October 11th, 1942. His body has never been found. There is little information about his case, and some speculate that his case may not be real. However, on the chance that it is, we felt it was worth discussing to shed new light on the case.
There are five extraordinary cases that make up the core of the legends surrounding the Bennington Triangle. We will be discussing two of them.
On December 1, 1946, Paula Welden, disappeared on the Long Trail, she was eighteen years old.
She had set out for a hike on the Long Trail at 3 pm wearing a bright red jacket. There were many witnesses who saw her leave for the hike. She was even seen on the trail itself by an elderly couple who were not far behind her only about 100 yards. Soon she turned a corner in the trail, and when the couple reached the same corner, she was gone. An extensive search was conducted including the posting of a $5,000 reward and help from the FBI. Dogs and over a 1000 people searching for her could not find her. After her disappearance, the state of Vermont created the Vermont State Police.
It is rumored that perhaps she fell victim to kidnapping or perhaps she ran away with a boyfriend. While these options were investigated, but none of these claims were substantiated. Newspaper articles continued to print articles about her disappearance for close to thirty years after she had gone missing, always bringing fresh light to the old case. To this day her disappearance is still unsolved.
The second disappearance we wanted to cover was a disappearance exactly three years later.
James E. Tedford a veteran, went missing on December 1, 1949, exactly three years after Paula Welden had disappeared. He had been in St. Albans visiting relatives and was returning home on the local bus when he vanished. According to his family, they escorted him to the bus and watched him get on the bus. Though the driver and other passengers were not interviewed until two weeks later, they did believe he was still on the bus at the last stop before arriving in Bennington. Tedford unbelievably vanished into thin air while inside a moving vehicle somewhere between the last stop and Bennington. It is said that his belongings were still in the luggage rack and a timetable for the bus was on his empty seat.
The Tedford case was such an odd case that we honestly questioned whether or not he was a real person. In our research, we discovered many interesting things about Mr. Tedford. One of the first things we checked for was to see if he truly was a real person by looking up his birth certificate.
Tedford was born on May 6, 1882, but according to his marriage license, he was born in 1895 making him 33 at the time of his marriage instead of 46. He married his wife Pearl who was 16 at the time of their marriage according to her death certificate.
Tedford lied on the marriage certificate, but he lied again on another formal record. His draft card for WWII. The draft card was created in 1941, but according to the card Tedford was born on May 1, 1892, making him 49 on the draft card and 36 at the time of his marriage, when he was actually 59. That is not all he lied on, he also lied on his census stating he was born in 1884 making him 48 at the time of his marriage. Now, why would a man lie so much about his age? Was he trying to escape the grasp of age and death?
We also discovered an article saying his wife Pearl had also gone missing before he returned home from the war, however after finding her death certificate, we have theorized she ultimately left him. Pearl was born on August 7th, 1912. She was 72 years old at her death and died on July 4th, 1985 of a heart attack in East Berkshire, VT at Snowflake Inn Rest home.
One thing is for certain in the terms of Tedford, his interesting life choices are as much a mystery as his disappearance is.
There are said to be several natural and possible man-made cairns surrounding the trails and on the mountain. A heap of stones in a field should not be disturbed, though needed for building--especially if they are part of an ancient tumulus. The faeries are said to live inside heaps of stones, and to move the stones would be most unfortunate.
Cairns are often found on the bare ridges and summits of New England’s highest mountains. They are there help to guide hikers during bad weather conditions. However, the ones on Glastenbury Mountain were located off the Long Trail and were not built as trail markers. As said before in history it is possible that these are the natural remains from the Abenaki legends or perhaps grave markers. In many Native American burial grounds, stacks of stones are used to mark the grave grounds. Are these cairns markers or homes to the fae?
Another possible explanation for these disappearances is portals or dimensional rifts. Where there are portals either man-made via ritual magick, fae portals or natural portals there can be odd occurrences including disappearances. Some of these other occurrences include terrifying voices allegedly showing up on dead-air radio, sightings of mysterious figures, and unexplained navigation mishaps. When it comes to these types of things along with the odd disappearances it is believed there is a portal or a dimensional rift. Is it possible that every one of our missing were somehow entered into a dimensional rift or portal? Perhaps.
Finally, one other paranormal explanation is that of UFOs and alien abduction. There are many claims of sightings of odd lights over Glastenbury Mountain that many attribute to otherworldly craft. There is a rumored story from 1984 by a man named Don Pratt who saw a “flying silo” shaped anomaly was seen over the skies of Bennington. We say this is rumored because we could find little information about this sighting.
“Window Areas” are places with some sort of inter-dimensional doorway or vortex into another world according to American journalist and UFOlogist, John A. Keel. Could the Bennington Triangle be a “window area?” Could this explain the potential for portals, UFOs, and other unexplainable activity?
Other Odd Occurrences
People say that the mountain was unusually quiet and always has been often animal life in never heard. It is possible that life has not completely returned to the mountain after the deforestation, or perhaps there is a more supernatural reason.
There is more so much more to this case, stay tuned next week as we continue to look into this case.