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Virtual Vermonter - The Bennington Triangle

There are places in the world where, for one reason or another, people just seem to disappear without a trace. The Bermuda Triangle is probably the best example of this. This stretch of sea, running from Bermuda to Miami to Puerto Rico, has claimed countless numbers of planes and ships over the years. Just off the coast of Japan on the other side of the world, the Dragon's Triangle has also swallowed up its share of ships and planes, including, oddly enough, a Japanese research vessel that was sent to investigate other disappearances. A little closer to home, we have what has come to be called the Bennington Triangle.

The area surrounding Glastenbury Mountain has always had a bit of darkness associated with it. To the Native Americans, it was alleged to be "cursed land," a region where all four winds met. What few Indians there were in the area largely shunned it, using it solely as a burial ground for their dead. The first European settlers to the land told of strange lights in the skies over the mountain, sounds from the woods they couldn't identify and strange odors that seemed to have no source. There were rumors of creatures lurking in the swamps surrounding the mountain, rumors backed up by the frequent recounting of a large "Bigfoot" type of creature that attacked and overturned a stagecoach on Route 9. Stories of sightings of the "Bennington Monster" continued throughout the years.

Communities in the area itself seemed plagued by these occurrences. The original town of Glastenbury, once thriving, succumbed to disease, bad weather and deaths and was eventually "unorganized" as a town in 1937. The latest numbers put the population in single digits. Surrounding towns such as Fayville fared little better, which is not completely surprising considering how isolated and harsh these communities were in the early years of Vermont's statehood.

Isolated incidents such as Henry MacDowell's 1892 murder of fellow millworker Jim Crowley in a drunken brawl also didn't have people pointing to the possibility that perhaps something wasn't right with the region. It was certainly a big story of the day, much talked about among the local residents. Particularly when MacDowell was declared insane and sentenced to Waterbury Asylum. Particularly when he escaped. Particularly when he disappeared without a trace. The Bennington Triangle as an idea wouldn't really gain traction for another half-century, however.

November 12, 1945. Seventy-four year old Middie Rivers was an experienced hunting and fishing guide who was familiar with the area and knew how to "get along" in the wild. The day of November 12th, he was leading a group of four hunters up into the mountains. On the way back to camp, he got a little ahead of the hunters and vanished. An extensive search of the area by police and volunteers turned up just a single clue: a bullet resting beside a stream bed, leading investigators to speculate that he had knelt down there to take a drink, and the bullet had fallen out of his pocket. No other trace of him has ever been found.

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