The Terrors of Duxbury Road
Duxbury Road – a strip cut through the mountainous topography of the Green Mountain spine. Starting as a paved road in tiny Jonesville, it quickly turns to dirt on the Bolton town line, and then becomes a desolate drive of potholed thoroughfare on its way to Duxbury, that rolls up and down steep hardwood shrouded ledges with exposed granite cliff walls that form the banks of the great Winooski River, which meanders its way in an east to west direction through the mountains here, around gravel bar islands and muddy banks. It’s a beautiful drive, especially in the summer when the road fills in with greenery and becomes shadowy, even on the brightest of days.
Perhaps it’s the dark forests and the stunning topography that gives the road it’s many disturbing legends. The tales I have been told are so obscure, that even many locals are unaware of them.
A friend of a friend, which is often how these tales go, was the first one to tell me that something was off about Duxbury Road. He finally agreed to sit down with me one night and talk about it. Duxbury Road has been rumored to be haunted for decades, but the source of activity here is almost impossible to uncover, and yet could fill a few chapters in an encyclopedia of urban legends.
According to my friend, who I’ll call “Adam” for story telling purposes, many houses along the road have experienced “something” bizarre, but residents don’t like talking about such things, and in classic Vermont stoicism, keep quiet about it. But occasionally, they’ll talk amongst themselves.
Though Adam couldn’t offer any incite on other people, he did have quite a few stories of his own. As a kid, Adam and his younger sister lived on an old farmhouse on Duxbury Road. For him, the weirdness started with one harrowing encounter on a summer night. His father was sitting in his armchair watching TV, when his five year old sister came out into the living room and stood next to him. His dad turned his head and smiled at her, and asked her what she wanted. “Oh nothing, I just wanted to tell you that Grandpa wanted you to know that he’s proud of you”.
He remembered that his father’s face fell, and was at a loss for words.Their grandfather had died long before she was born. Trying to compose himself, he asked her what she meant. She said that his father sometimes came to visit her at night, and when he leaves, he walks up the hill next to their house, but he has no feet. He wanted him to know that he was doing a great job raising his family, and that he would always be around when he needed him, which was something he always said before he passed away. He walked into another room and came back with an old photo album, and she was able to point out his father, despite never seeing a photo of the man before. Adam said that his father was very distressed for weeks after the incident.
Shortly after that unusual night, his little sister said she had an encounter with another family ghost, but this time she claimed to see the ghost of their dad’s dead brother, while playing hide and seek outside.
After that, the entire family began feeling uncomfortable while inside the house. Everyone recalled at one time or another, they felt like they were being watched.
Then one night, Adam recalled a terrifying incident that happened to him. He remembers waking up abruptly and becoming aware that something was in the room with him. Though he didn’t see anything, he felt its presence. Then, he felt a weight press down on the edge of the bed, and the corner of his mattress sunk down, as if someone was sitting on it. Then, he said he felt what was like an arm clasp around his leg. Too afraid to look, he screamed “leave me alone!”, and whatever it was, vanished.
More things continued to happen. His mom was sitting in the living room one night when everyone else was in bed, when she was startled to hear a noise coming from outside, what she had described as someone dragging a stick across the tin siding of their house, and stopped right underneath the window she was sitting near. She flicked on the floodlights and went to investigate, but no one was outside.
As Adam and his sister grew older, the strange disturbances seemed to fade away. But Adam had a theory. He told me that whatever was behind the supernatural phenomenon at their house was probably playful by nature, and saw him and his sister as playmates, and when they grew up, it no longer had a companion.
More Strange Happenings
Months later, I was having lunch with a friend, and our conversation soon morphed into Vermont weirdness, as we would try to outdo one another with an account that we were sure the other one had never heard of. That brought me to bring up Duxbury, and my friend became animated. “Duxbury you say? That’s strange, I had a friend who grew up in Duxbury, and he told me about a haunted road he knew about as a kid. It might be the same road” His friend grew up in Duxbury in the 50s, and recalls that at the time, the Duxbury Road had a reputation for being haunted. One of the more well known haunts was the ghost of a little girl who was hit and killed by a train after falling out of the back of a moving wagon. Apparently, there was a farmhouse down the road from her fatal accident with a shrine dedicated to the dead girl in the living room.
Another story tells of an old curmudgeonly German hermit who lived on Robbins Mountain with a pack of dogs. Very little is known about him, but one variation of the story was that the hermit was said to be a lunatic, and people knew best to avoid him. The man eventually died and the dogs went wild and dangerous. They continued to roam the slopes of Robbins Mountain, occasionally venturing near a farm or a house and killing livestock and scaring children. The story was continued to be told afterwards, but by then the dogs were ghost dogs, and has now seemed to mysteriously have been forgotten, just as the hermit who inspired the legend.
According to other legends, an unruly band of squatters once inhabited the area, and at one time long ago, the woods were home to a vicious pack of Catamounts. But these were all predictably untraceable things to uncover further.
Towards the Jonesville section of Duxbury Road, there is an old schoolhouse that was renovated into a private residence. According to some people, there is something strange about the place.
My friend Adam recalls another bizarre story that was told to him from someone with a firsthand experience. Across from the schoolhouse sat another old house that a man he once knew lived in. One night, the man awoke from his slumber and couldn’t get back to sleep. For whatever reason, he had a yen to look out the window near his bed, which faced the schoolhouse across the road. He pulled back the curtains and peered out into the night. It was almost like something was directing the man where to look, as his gaze was pulled up to the tower on top of the schoolhouse. Inside that tower, he faintly saw the silhouette of a man, and it was looking at him.
Unnerved by this, he pulled back the drapes and blamed the strange visual on being sleep deprived. He rolled back in bed and tried to forget about it, but for some reason, he couldn’t shake the weird image of the figure in the tower. Curiosity got the better of him, and he looked out the window again. This time, he noticed the tower was empty, but soon spotted the familiar dark outline of the man, this time staring at him from a window downstairs.
Wide awake, he tried to find some logic in the bizarre situation. He looked back out the window once again to see if the mysterious figure would still be there. This time, the man was standing in the middle of the road. Terrified now, he turned on all the lights in the house and waited until morning. Nothing further happened, and he never saw the figure again, but he never forgot about that night.
What exactly is going on here? What could be behind so many strange experiences on Duxbury Road? Do strange things still happen today, and are dark tales still told?
Most of the activity on Duxbury Road could very well be attached to the very land the road exists on, acting as some sort of paranormal conduit. It is said that the area is the site of an unrecognized Indian burial ground, with artifacts and human remains being unearthed over the past few centuries as the area became developed and farmed. But my attempt to inquire further about such claims were met with dead ends, putting me right back to where I started.
Could there be some sort of supernatural or awesome property in the hills of Duxbury that the Native Americans recognized? Or perhaps, these strange occurrences are nothing more than the product of yarn spinning and generations of story tellers. I suppose only the Green Mountains know for sure, and they can sure keep a secret.
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