Booming Connecticut

Rumbles and sounds like gunfire today emerge from a cave in Moodus, Connecticut. Seismologists say the noises are related to mini-earthquakes. (There was a serious earthquake in the area in 1791, felt as far away as New York and Boston. It was estimated at Mercalli Intensity vii, roughly Richter 6.0.) Scholars think that this place, called in the native language Machimoodus, or “the place of noises,” was a neutral, holy ground for the native peoples. Early white settlers believed it was a center of devil worship. According to Charles Montgomery Skinner, writing in 1896, “It was finally understood that Haddam witches, who practised black magic, met the Moodus witches, who used white magic, in a cave beneath Mount Tom, and fought them in the light of a great carbuncle that was fastened to the roof.” The noises apparently lessed after an English magician named Dr. Steele arrived, built a house, sealed it tight, caused loud noises, sparks, and smoke to emerge from it, and finally extracted the carbuncle before heading out for parts unknown. Today, there is “hiking, tennis, golf, horseshoe pitching, badminton, volleyball, softball, fishing, boating, canoeing, basketball, boccé,” and a “game room.”

From the May 2011 issue of Happiness Pony. [PDF]

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