Fall is more than colorful leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, and apple picking. It’s ghost stories and Halloween candy as well. Founded on June 21, 1788, New Hampshire is the ninth oldest state in the country with a long history before that as well, which is why there should be no surprise that the White Mountains are full of bizarre and haunted stories.
Bomber Crash Site on Mount Waternomee
On January 14, 1942, a Douglas B18-A bomber carrying a crew of 7 was on it’s return flight to Westover Air Field in Massachusetts. Met with darkness and bad weather, the pilot became disoriented and began their descent thinking they were nearing Westover. Unfortunately they were actually over central New Hampshire, and crashed into the side of Mount Waternomee (a shoulder peak on the east side Mount Moosilauke). As the crew attempted to escape from the wreckage, the plane caught fire causing the bombs they were carrying to explode. Five members were injured but miraculously survived, though were then met with deep winter snow. Residents of Lincoln and North Woodstock heard the explosion and saw the flames. And so despite the harsh conditions, a team of over 50 volunteers ventured out into the dark winter night and successfully rescued the 5 survivors.
Today the crash site can be accessed from a 5 mile hike off Walker Brook Road in Woodstock. Visitors have said it was a very eerie, but worthwhile experience.
Betty and Barney Hill Abduction
Betty and Barney Hill of Portsmouth, NH were returning home after a trip to Montreal in the middle of the night on September 19, 1961. As they reached Franconia Notch, they began carefully observing a strange light moving around in the night sky. Upon making their way through the Notch, about 1 mile South of Indian Head Resort, the lights quickly descended towards the travelers and appeared to be some sort of spacecraft. This UFO with large windows hovered above the Hills, close enough for them to make out humanoid creatures inside. The couple then claims to have completely lost 2 hours of time and were unable to explain the missing time. Their encounter ended up being one of the first well-documented and reported UFO abductions in the U.S.
Today, along the couple’s route is a gas station which displays a commemorative mural. Some information on the UFO sighting is also located inside the Irving Express. There is also a historical marker for the encounter on Route 3 near Indian Head Resort. And make sure you swing by the Woodstock Inn Brewery to see if ‘Lost Time’ pale ale is on tap. It’s a homage to the close encounter.
Mount Willard Trail
Mount Willard Trail is a 3.1-mile out-and-back trail that leads to one of the most iconic vistas of Crawford Notch. However, it is also home to one of the worse tragedies in the White Mountains. Samuel Willey Jr. moved his family to Crawford Notch in 1825. Only a short year later, the White Mountains experienced one of the worst rainstorms in history, which created a huge landslide that tore through the Willey’s land. A ledge protected their house but killed his family and two hired hands. All bodies except three of the children’s were found. According to a hiker on Trail to Summit, the three children who were never found haunt the notch today.
Mount Chocorua Loop Trail
Offering 360-degree views of the White Mountains, Mount Chocorua Loop Trail is a 10.1-mile challenging loop trail. Named after the famous Pigwacket tribe chief, Mount Chocorua is said to be haunted by Chief Chocorua’s cries after his son died in the care of the Campbell family. Before Chief Chocorua jumped to his death, he cursed all white settlers. Hikers have reported hearing the eerie cries of the famous chief.
Crawford Path Trail
Mt. Washington was originally called Agiocochook, which loosely means “Home of the Great Spirit” and probably to no one’s surprise, the summit and surrounding trails have been reportedly haunted. The Crawford Notch Trail is a difficult 15-mile out-and-back trail that will bring you to the legendary summit of Mt. Washington. If you’re peak bagging, make sure you take the Mt. Eisenhower and Mt. Monroe Loops to cross a couple of additional 4,000-footers on your list.
Once you’re on the summit of Mt. Washington, it is said that the Tip Top House is haunted. Built in 1853 by Samuel F. Spaulding, the stone house is the oldest surviving building on the summit and is believed to be the oldest extant mountain-top hostelry in the world. The meteorologists living and working on the Mount Washington Observatory may also tell you about the “The Presence” that seems to walk the halls of the weather room at night. And you can’t rule out the Crawford Path Trail itself for having paranormal activity. It’s one of the oldest maintained hiking trails in the United States and has had over 200 reported deaths over the centuries. Certainly, some of those hikers must continue their journey on the other side.
Visit the Western White Mountains to experience some haunted thrills of the Granite State.
For state-wide information, head to VisitNH.gov