The Bennington Triangle

Vile Vortice, UFO Abduction, Bigfoot, or Unsolved Murder?

The Appalachian Mountain Club calls it the "Triangle of Doom"1. But, while the happenings in the Bennington Triangle remain a series of unsolved mysteries, can they be classified as paranormal phenomena?

Nestled between the Taconics and the Green Mountains, its rich history and scenic beauty make Bennington a favorite spot for hunters, hikers, and historians.

One of the earliest chartered towns in Colonial America, Bennington is also the site of Vermont's first church, aptly named the "Old First Church", its cemetery the final resting place of poet Robert Frost. Bennington is also the place where Ethan Allen formed the Green Mountain Boys, a group of three hundred woodsmen that were instrumental in helping the American Colonies win the American Revolutionary war1.

Bennington was a quiet town, quite near mysterious Glastenbury Mountain. Native Americans shunned the mountain, believing that the four winds "met" at the top of it and they used the mountain only as a burial ground. European settlers told tales of strange lights over Glastenbury Mountain. Unsourced odors and tales of Bigfoot-type sightings permeated the mountain woodlands2, 3, 4.

Yet, the real mountain mystery began in 1945 and lasted for five years.

Seventy-four year old, Middie Rivers was familiar with the area wilderness. An experienced hunting and fishing guide, on November 12, 1945, he escorted a party of four hunters into the mountain woodlands. Leading the way back to their campsite, Middie disappeared from view and vanished leaving only one clue. After an extensive search, investigators found a single bullet beside a streambed but no trace of Middie was ever found.

Rivers's disappearance was the first in a series of missing persons over the next five years. A year later, on December 1, 1946 Paula Weldon, a sophomore at Bennington College vanished while hiking along Glastenbury Mountain's "Long Trail". A couple behind her reported they had seen her turn a corner, but when they reached the corner, Weldon was gone. Although the ensuing manhunt brought in the FBI and even used a clairvoyant, as in the case of Middie Rivers, no trace of Paula Weldon was ever found.

Exactly three years later, on December 1, 1949, James E. Tetford, a resident of Bennington Soldier's Home disappeared from a commercial bus. Although he was seen boarding the bus and at the stop before Bennington, when the bus reached its destination, Tetford was gone. Although his luggage was found in the luggage rack and a bus timetable lay open on his seat James E. Tetford was never again seen.

On Columbus Day 1950, eight-year-old Paul Jepson disappeared from the family farm. No trace of the child or his bright red coat was ever found, although hundreds of volunteers combed the mountainside in search of him.

Not quite three weeks later, 53-year-old Frieda Langer slipped into a mountain stream while hiking with her cousin. Promising her cousin that she'd catch up with him after changing into dry clothes, Frieda disappeared on the walk back to camp. Hers was the only body found, but not until the next spring. On May 12, 1951, Frieda Langer's decomposed body emerged near the Somerset Reservoir, although the area had been thoroughly searched at the time of her disappearance. Oddly enough, the one "solved" disappearance was the final disappearance on Glastenbury Mountain.

Because four of the five disappearances remain unsolved, rumors and theories are plentiful. Indian legend tells of a "rock that swallows" those who step on it. Some folks believe that the Bigfoot-like "Bennington Monster" is responsible for the mishaps. Of course, others cite alien abductions as a possible cause and some speculators talk about a gateway to some new dimension. Were these five autumn disappearances the work of a serial killer or just a string of coincidental misadventures? For now, mysterious Glastenbury Mountain hides the secrets behind the Bennington Triangle.

1. “ Rural Legends.” The Cracker Barrel. 2004. Appalachian Mountain Club 2006. 24 Oct 2008 <http://www.outdoors.org/publications/outdoors/2006/northeast-rural-legends.cfm>.
2. Deborah Elwell Arfken. “Ethan Allen Biography.” Dictionary of World Biography: The 17th and 18th Centuries. Salem Press, 1999. 24 Oct 2008 <http://www.enotes.com/salem-history/ethan-allen>.
3. “The Bennington Triangle.” Virtual Vermonter n.d . 24 Oct 2008 <http://www.virtualvermonter.com/almanac/benntriangle.htm>.
4. Davy Russell. “The Bennington Triangle.” X Project 8 Aug 1999. 24 Oct 2008 <http://www.xprojectmagazine.com/archives/paranormal/benningtontriangle.html>.