Abandoned But Still Inhabited Factory Hollow (CT)

Factory Hollow isn’t a high profile place anyone would go to investigate the paranormal, but don’t let that benign facade fool you….. where there are cellar holes and lone standing chimneys – there’s a story.

In 1796 a small village sprang up along the Blackledge River in the towns of Hebron and Bolton CT. It seems Hartford, at the time, was home to a number of both Methodists and Congregationalists who couldn’t get along with one another. The contention was over booze – the Methodist Church members out-drank the Congregational Church members and the latter assumed an ‘holier than thou’ attitude against them. Tired of the dissension, Pastor Elijah Andrus led his people out of Hartford to a secluded spot of their own south of the city in what is now Tolland County.

About 25 families followed Andrus. John Gay was one of the founding fathers of the settlement as were most of his family members. Andrus left the group after about four years for unknown reasons and Pastor Henry Sumner took over ministerial duties. He also brought a lot of family with him.

In an effort to sustain themselves, the group built a sawmill. Lumber was needed for homes and workplaces and contributed to the village’s economy. It was also beneficial in building the distillery that kept residents content. But, that really wasn’t the case.

A large part of daily life in this community consisted in drinking. Even the twice-weekly mandatory church attendance was a venue for imbibing in one’s favorite quaff. Ultimately, as it can turn out, many fights ensued, vulgar language was common, and any culture that had existed soon degenerated.

The little community witnessed two murders, but no one was ever accused of the crimes. A frequent peddler made his last stop in Furnace Hollow. He was relieved of his wares and money. His body was found in a charcoal burning pit – not quite cooked. And although the village charcoal-burner was investigated, no charges were ever brought against him.

Maybe seeing that homicide was tolerated in town, the blacksmith who became overly angry with his quite young apprentice for being a little late one morning decided to slice him up. Not only did the boy die – he was beheaded. This horrendous act also went unpunished.

Having had enough, many people started leaving the hamlet. The Civil War was also on-going and many men and boys from Factory Hollow went off to war and died on the battlefields reducing the population even further.

Over the years, the lumber mill burned down, a woolen mill replaced it which a few years later also went up in smoke. A third mill, a paper factory, wasn’t a charm, either – it also ended in ashes. After about 80 years the small community that could – couldn’t.

Factory Hollow is now known as Gay City State Park and sits along Rt. 85 where Hebron meets Bolton. It’s named after the Gay family who founded the area. Old cellar holes, lonely chimneys, stone foundations, the burned rock structure where so many fires took place, a wheel pit that held the overshot water wheel, and stone walls once used for gardens and pastures all remain to tell the tale of what was. There’s even a small cemetery. And – there are unsettling vibes and hauntings.

While during the day hiking trails, Still Pond swimming beach, and remains of the community seem calm and quiet, once the hint of dusk starts – old residents wake up.

Over the years – and still happening, many people report hearing disembodied voices that sound like townsfolk are still enjoying their inebriation. Orbs have been seen and shadowy wisps of shades meandering through the trees are witnessed. Near the area of the old charcoal pit a ghostly figure has been spotted. Perhaps it’s the old peddler wanting his killer to be brought to justice. Some people have noticed a boy running through the woods holding his head in his hands.

This place has a distinct feeling of heaviness. Wherever you go, you are being watched. You can hear rustling through the brush where no one is walking. Something is moving and you catch a glimpse out the corner of your eye. The breeze seems to murmur. And dark figures definitely walk among the trees.

Furnace Hollow or Gay City, if you prefer, may be abandoned, but it still lives on.

     – ashanta

What’s In the Woods?

I am always looking for local places that are known or are thought to be haunted. After thinking about it for a few days it came to me. There is an area out here close to the Berkshires I’ve walked quite a few times in the evenings. It seems different and maybe it’s worth checking out.

There is a certain place on this road near Middlefield State Forest where you can hear a dog barking way off in the woods. Every time I’ve walked this stretch, that dog or coyote or whatever it is, is barking. There are no homes anywhere within a mile or so on this road and there are no intersecting roads – just miles of dense forest. From what I could see, no one had made a path or trail leading out there either. I had always thought perhaps there was a way in I hadn’t found yet, but not so. Anyway, until now I hadn’t been curious enough to explore.

After lunch, as I wanted plenty of time, I left to check things out. I arrived at the barking spot on the road and hiked about a half a mile into the woods when I started seeing animal bones. Nothing much at first, but more numerous as I got further in. I assumed a lot of these bones were from deer as a few antlers were found also. There were piles of smaller bones, too. In my experience, people find bones in the forest all the time, but usually not in such large quantities in one area. I kept thinking what would explain what I had found. Something feeding such as a bear or maybe coyotes or maybe even, although unlikely, wolves. I searched and .there were no tracks to be found. So, was it just coincidence these bones were located in such a small area? No matter the reason, I was just happy that I had a knife with me. Of course it wouldn’t make much difference, but I still felt better having it with me.

It was getting to be mid-afternoon as I continued on further into the forest. There was still plenty of time to get out before it started getting dark. As I walked further in, here and there were rocks that had been stacked one upon another. Others had been placed to create designs. Someone had to have made them. Nature doesn’t arrange stones in specific patterns.

It occurred to me that possibly someone was living out here maybe to get away from people or some other reason. I made sure to pay attention all around me as I continued on. For no reason did I want to surprise or be surprised by someone if they happened to still be around.

I continued on, but soon and for no apparent reason, I started to feel a chill and it didn’t have anything to do with the weather. It was a warm day. I also, increasingly, got a feeling of what I can only describe as impending doom. I felt as if I stayed there, it wouldn’t be a good thing.

On my way back to the road, I neared the area where the stacked stones and rock symbols are located. I have an idea what they could be. Am I right? I don’t know, but I did break up some of the rock design symbols, just in case…

I haven’t been back yet, but do plan to go later this year with some fellow investigators. I also spotted an old cellar hole on my way out, and want to check back on that when the sun is high in the sky and darkness isn’t creeping into the woods.



Holyoke’s Haunted Highway? (MA)

There is a road in Holyoke MA that has frequent, and many times, severe accidents. While that in and of itself doesn’t seem odd or unusual, the fact that most all of these accidents have occurred in almost the same places along an appoximate two mile stretch of highway does seem strange and uncanny. So is it coincidence? It seems like more than coincidence would allow. And, who really believes in coincidences?

Westfield Road is a part of US Route 202 and initially was a trail used by the Agawam and Woronoco tribes. It starts where Westfield MA meets Holyoke along a ridge on East Mountain. The area is a rugged, heavily-wooded rural section that crests the ridge of the mountain and quickly starts a rather steep descent. There are several sharp turns that offer limited sight of on-coming traffic as well.

As you drive down the mountain and look to your right all you see is trees and water – lots of water. Beautiful Ashley and McLean Reservoirs rest along the side of the highway in their picturesque basins which are fed by numerous smaller ponds and streams. Looking over this scene you think picture perfect postcard, but that’s not the feeling you get while driving down this old Native American pathway. The road is creepy.

Westfield Road continues on until it reaches Route 5 further down through town, but the end of the two-mile stretch stops at the bottom of the mountain. There is a small road, on the right that leads down to the Ashley Reservoir Hiking Trail. There’s room for some limited parking and there is no sign identifying it.

Police, fire, emergency crews, and towing companies are all familiar with this locale. Their help is frequently needed there and more often than not, in the same spots over and over again. Some accidents happen in front of homemade markers memorializing past accidents. Feelings of foreboding embed that small part of the highway and it’s as though it is heavy with the energy of other presences. You never feel alone.

The vibe is dark. Maybe the negativity is from all the water surrounding the road, but it seems like more than that. Could it be interference from residual energy still existing there, acting out past accidents? Could it be an interruption from intelligent energies wanting to interact with the living? I don’t know, but I do know that if there was another way to go so I wouldn’t have to use that part of the road, I’d take it. It only takes a spark of time to maybe catch a glimpse of something weird out the corner of your eye and end up somewhere you don’t want to be. The weight of these accidents, injuries, and deaths sits over this part of 202 distributing dark energies that linger. Do they draw others into the same fate that awaited them?

– ashanta