GEOGRAPHY & NATURAL HISTORY
Glastenbury Mountain
"A perfect square, that yellow dotted line indicating it was the boundary of a town, with the word "Glastenbury" printed inside. But inside the square, there was nothing but contour lines, indicating several mountains and rugged wilderness." - Obscure Vermont
"Glastenbury" is the name of an ancient mountain, home to a now abandoned town, all withing a sprawling designated wilderness area.

It's also the setting for the first season of "Strange Far Places."

When people say the word "Glastenbury," they could be talking about a massive mountain in Southern Vermont.

They might be talking about the long-abandoned ghost town of Glastenbury, now just empty cellar holes on the southwestern flank of Glastenbury Mountain.

Or they might be talking about the Glastenbury Wilderness area, federally designated in 2006 and currently encompassing the sparse ruins of the town and most of the mountain itself.

But most likely, they're talking about a series of mysteries - unsolved disappearances, paranormal encounters, and rumors of secret societies recorded around Glastenbury Mountain for at least 300 years.

The best known of these mysteries are the so-called "Long Trail Disappearances," a string of unsolved vanishings in the 1940's and 1950's.

Real place....
"What is going on in the Bennington Triangle? Are there forces at work here beyond our understanding and current knowledge? Or are these all unrelated cases of people simply falling victim to natural forces or a desire to leave their lives behind, with their occurrence in this one area merely a curious coincidence?"
Mysterious Universe
"The site of a ghost town which was lost at the turn of the century, mysterious Glastenbury Mountain is located just outside of Bennington, Vermont. The vast wilderness is host to many legends, among them tales of a "man-eating" rock and several Bigfoot sightings. The area is also the location of several unexplained disappearances over the years, one of which leads directly to the formation of the Vermont State Police." Legend Hunter Jeff Belanger explored the ruins of the lost ghost town Fayville.
Glastenbury Mountain
"Deep in the southern Green Mountains, 3,748-foot Glastenbury Mountain rises above a vast sea of uninterrupted woodland. A fire tower crowns the summit, offering 360-degree views over some of Vermont's wildest terrain. But to reach the peak, you've got to earn it." - AMC's Best Backpacking in New England
3,748-foot Glastenbury Mountain is located in Bennington County, Vermont, part of the 400,000 acre Green Mountain National Forest within the New England/Acadian forests ecoregion.

An arduous 9.9-mile trail through dense forest is the most direct path to its summit. You'll pass abandoned homesteads, now overgrown cellar holes in the woods. Further up, near the top of the mountain, you'll pass mysterious ancient stone structures, unlike any discovered on the East Coast.

The mountain is primarily made of dolomite and quartzite, with rare deposits of blue quartz from the Cryptozoic ("obscure life") geologic period.

Numerous fissures are found on the mountain, and Vermont's second largest cave systems winds underground nearby.

Draining off the mountain are many small brooks and rivers, including


The (Ghost) Towns of Glastenbury
The actual town of Glastenbury only plays a small part in the greater mystery surrounding Glastenbury Mountain.

From the time of its incorporation in 1761 to its un-incorporation in 1937, it struggled to maintain a population over 300.

As noted by local chronicler Ruth Levin, "Life was harder in Glastenbury than in most surrounding towns because of its high altitude and rough terrain. Glastenbury has an extremely short growing season with very cold and long winters."

But the town's demise wasn't simply caused by a short growing season. Cycles of murder and madness plagued the town. Superstition limited cooperation between certain families. And the final stroke came when the mountain was clear-cut in an act of desperation.

Locals claimed the clear-cutting exposed an otherwise hidden darkness on the mountain. But it's a fact that without the protection of the once-dense forests, rain and floods made life on the mountain even more difficult and impoverished.

Abbreviated Glastonbury Timeline


1791 34 people were recorded settled in the town.


By 1840, 50 years later, and the population had barely grown to 53 people with a small local economy of agriculture (wheat, rye, corn, potatoes, oats, and buckwheat, sheep and tapped maples)


The Glastenbury-Woodford-Bennington railroad was completed in 1872.


By the late 1800's, the mountain is bare and the town enters its final descent.


A final pitch is made to turn the town into a resort area with a hotel and casino.


A small fortune was spent to convert the area into a mountain resort area which opened in the summer of 1898.


But later that year a devastating flood wiped out the railroad and put the town out of business forever. Mills, the schoolhouse, and homes were abandoned as people moved on.


In 1930, just 7 people lived in the town.


In 1937, the town was officially declared "unorganized" along with the town of Somerset where a similar situation had developed – the first such declaration by special act by the state of Vermont.


The former town of Glastenbury includes the abandoned village of Fayville. As noted on a popular geocaching site, "It's quite the hike to get to the actual ruins of Glastenbury, but you can drive to Fayetteville."


"As you proceed up the very rough rocky trail, there is a clearing that was once booming logging town of Fayville. You will see the old foundations, Apple trees, iron bands, old horseshoes, and other various relics that hinted at human habitation once being way up here and much more."

The Glastenbury Wilderness Today
"The Glastenbury Wilderness is northeast of Bennington, beginning just north of Route 9. Seen from Route 7, the area possesses a massive and beautifully wild ridgeline that dominates the landscape to the east. Despite the area's proximity to Bennington, it is quiet and remote."
- Wilderness.net
100 years after the town of Glastenbury was abandoned, Glastenbury Mountain is again heavily forested.

In 2006 the Glastenbury Wilderness was federally designated and now has a total of 22,330 acres. The hilly terrain of the area includes several summits surpassing 2,000 feet along with 3,700-foot Glastenbury Mountain.

As a federal Wilderness Area, motorized vehicles and roads are prohibited. There are no buildings or electricity in the wilderness area. It's known as a famous "blank spot" by pilots who fly between Albany and Boston, or New York and Montreal at night.

Glastenbury supports a mature forest, a "rich mosaic of balsam fir, red spruce, white and yellow birch, beech, and mountain ash. It is interspersed with patches of ferns, raspberries, blackberries, bluebead lily, and dwarf dogwood."

It's also rich with wildlife, including rare birds and black bears, as frequent claw-marked beech trees attest.

Trails & Access

The Long Trail and Appalachian Trail traverse the town of Glastenbury from its north to south border, following the crest of the Green Mountains and passing an old fire tower at the summit.
Cairns, Petroglyphs and Stone Structures
Unique among all mountains in the Northeast, Glastenbury has a series of ancient cairns near its summit. This in spite of the fact that American Indians avoided the area, or at least passed by it on their way to other lands.

Norman Muller, Conservator of the Princeton University Art Museum has studied stone structures throughout the eastern United States.

"The evidence from the Glastenbury cairns," says Muller, "strongly suggests they were constructed by Native Americans." But according to both oral history and the archaeological record, precontact Native American settlement in southern Vermont centered on the shores of rivers and lakes. The nearest navigable waterways to Glastenbury are a dozen miles away over rugged terrain. Perhaps the structures served some ritual or religious function, but there are no records of the region's Native populations creating similar structures.

However, this does not mean that there aren't analogs out there.

In Southern Appalachians, cairns were often built as a warning for others to avoid certain landscapes.
Anomalous Geographic Findings
There is a vortex on the mountain, a rift in the earth that opens to a strange and unformed place - a place where a supernatural force is bottled up.

Portals form via the process of magnetic reconnection. Mingling lines of magnetic force from the sun and Earth criss-cross and join to create the openings. "X-points" are where the criss-cross takes place. The sudden joining of magnetic fields can propel jets of charged particles from the X-point, creating an "electron diffusion region."

Just one problem: Finding them. Magnetic portals are invisible, unstable, and elusive. They open and close without warning "and there are no signposts to guide us in," notes Scudder.

To learn how to pinpoint these events, Scudder looked at data from a space probe that orbited Earth more than 10 years ago. "In the late 1990s, NASA's Polar spacecraft spent years in Earth's magnetosphere," explains Scudder, "and it encountered many X-points during its mission."


"Dark Mountain and Round Hill were both notoriously haunted spots, and I could find no one who had ever closely explored either. Occasional disappearances of natives throughout the district's history were well attested…" – H.P. Lovecraft


Bennington and Surrounding Towns

With a population of 15,431 Bennington Vermont is the largest town near Glastenbury Mountain (as well as in Southern Vermont). It was chartered in 1749 and settled in 1761. Downtown Bennington is nationally famous for its historical attractions, museum, and beautiful colonial New England charm.

Over the centuries, generations of Bennington citizens grappled with the terrifying events on Glastenbury Mountain. Some even organized to confront the darkness they perceived on the mountain.

Today, like many small and mid-sized towns, it faces a number of modern problems including an opiate and heroin epidemic.


Related:

Author Shirley Jackson's memoirs, Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons, depict mid-20th-century life in Bennington.


Other Surrounding Towns Involved in "Strange Far Places" Chapter I:


Old Bennington - A village of 140. Enclosed entirely within the town of Bennington. Noted for its well-preserved American Revolutionary War-era homes, significant as one of the earliest settlements in Vermont.

North Bennington - A village of 1,643

Shaftsbury - A town with a population of 3,590 located along the western border of Southern Vermont. To the north is the town of Arlington, to the east is the unincorporated town of Glastenbury, to the south is the town of Bennington, to the west are Hoosick and White Creek in New York. In June 1843, escaped slaves hid at a Shaftsbury farm, the first recorded instance in Vermont of the Underground Railroad.

Somerset - A hardscrabble mountain village also abandoned like Glastenbury

Woodford, Searsburg, Somerset, Sunderland, Stratton, Wardsboro, Townsend and Brattleboro play a role.

The Providence Bureau & Glastenbury Mountain
The Providence Bureau became interested in investigating the folklore, anomalous geography, and rumors of paranormal crimes around Glastenbury Mountain as early as 1940.

When a local hunter named Middie Rivers vanished on Glastenbury in 1945, the Bureau dispatched a pair of field researchers and a geologist to assist in her search. And a year later, when a student named Paula Welden vanished on the Mountain, the Bureau provided semi-classified information and other details to help find her.

However, in both cases, the women remained missing, and remain so to this day.

Over the decades, the Providence Bureau's Glastenbury Archive grew to include thousands of historic and law enforcement files, folklore recordings, maps, and other documents and records. Collection of new Glastenbury files was interrupted (or the files removed for reasons unknown) between 1993 - 2012.

In 2013, the Bureau re-opened the Glastenbury Archive with a new folklore initiative. That initiative provoked the discoveries and events recorded in the first season of Strange Far Places.

The following file outlines the landscape and histo-geography of the setting of Strange Far Places: Glastenbury Mountain.
"Dark Mountain and Round Hill were both notoriously haunted spots, and I could find no one who had ever closely explored either. Occasional disappearances of natives throughout the district's history were well attested…"
– Whispers in the Darkness, H. P. Lovecraft
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