5 Strange and Satanic Spots in New Hampshire: 50 States of Wonder - Atlas Obscura

50 States of Wonder
5 Strange and Satanic Spots in New Hampshire

What is it with New Hampshire and the Devil?

Since the time of European settlement, Satan seems to have lurked around every corner of the Granite State. In the era of witch hunts, terrified townspeople accused their elderly neighbors of speaking with the Devil, and local lore has it that the stones around a frothing waterfall in the woods once served as Satan's kitchen, where he cooked a pot of beans with the flames of Hell.

Perhaps the Devil got his best turn in “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” a 1936 short story by Stephen Vincent Benét. The story features real-life lawyer and politician Daniel Webster fighting for the soul of a down-on-his-luck New Hampshire farmer who, in a moment of desperation, made a deal with the Devil. In the tale, the Devil uses every legal and supernatural means possible to outwit Webster, who battles to spare New Hampshire from further demonic meddling. “Any Hades we want to raise in this state, we can raise ourselves, without assistance from strangers,” Webster remarks. But for those who still do want to raise a little hell, New Hampshire has plenty of spots for devil-dealing.

As the pandemic continues, we hope this virtual trip helps you explore America’s wonders. If you do choose to venture out, please follow all guidelines, maintain social distance, and wear a mask.

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The frothing falls where Satan once bungled some beans. Hheeaatthh (Atlas Obscura User)
Waterfall

1. Purgatory Falls

Apparently, Satan is not much of a cook. At the top of Purgatory Falls, a splashy water feature in southern New Hampshire, two glacial potholes are known as “The Devil's Bean Pot” and “The Devil's Footprint.” One story has it that Satan, incognito, once invited a bevy of local clergy to eat some beans with him on the spot. But cooking with the flames of Hell was apparently beyond Satan, who, when his pot of beans exploded, melting the surrounding area and fusing his foot to the stone, swore so demonically that the churchmen fled, as they suddenly recognized the true identity of their host. This didn't scare early 20th-century locals from partying in Purgatory—the area was a popular picnic spot. Currently, the trailhead parking lot to access the falls is closed due to intense traffic during COVID-19, though some visitors have been parking farther away and hiking in. (Read more.)

Lyndeborough, NH 03082

A bulbous, carved marker in honor of poor Goody Cole. ickaimp (Atlas Obscura User)
Memorial

2. Eunice “Goody” Cole Memorial Stone

Eunice “Goody” Cole was the only woman to be convicted of witchcraft in New Hampshire history. Throughout her long, painful life, both her neighbors and court juries claimed that it was obvious that Cole had “familiarity with the Devil.”

A reportedly eccentric, unpleasant resident of Hampton, Cole’s fellow townsfolk accused her of everything from killing their livestock to taking the form of animals and communicating with the Devil. Starting in 1656, Cole would be tried for witchcraft three times, whipped, imprisoned for years on end, and stripped of her citizenship.

In the 20th century, Goody Cole became the subject of local sympathy, to the point that the town reinstated her citizenship in 1938 and ceremoniously burned copies of her court records, the ashes of which now sit in an urn in the town's Tuck Museum. In 1963, Harold Fernald, a Hampton resident, erected a sculpted stone in her honor. It now stands on the town green. (Read more.

40 Park Ave, Hampton, NH 03842

An elegant mansion, funded by the Devil. Courtesy of J.W. Ocker
Historical Home

3. Moulton Mansion

Never piss Satan off, or he might burn down your house.

New Hampshire's very own Faust, legend has it, learned this lesson the hard way. Jonathan Moulton was a general and veteran of many an 18th-century war. He was also a very wealthy man, and a story sprung up that his wealth came from an unexpected source: the Devil. The story goes something like this: Having sold his soul to Satan, Moulton asked for his boots to be filled with gold once a month in return. One day, Moulton sneakily nailed his boots to a hole in his floor, then punched out the soles. The next time Satan came to pay up, he ended up filling Moulton's basement with gold. (Another variation has it that Moulton hung his boots in the fireplace with the bottoms cut out. Either way, the result was a roomful of gold.)

So, Satan is said to have burned Moulton's house down in revenge. The house house really did burn down in 1769, but was rebuilt, resulting in the mansion that still stands today. It's a private residence, so please do not disturb the inhabitants. (Read more.)

 

212 Lafayette Rd, Hampton, NH 03842

A surprisingly normal-looking house hides a dark past. Courtesy of J.W. Ocker
Historical Home

4. Birthplace of H.H. Holmes

In 1896, America's first and perhaps most prolific serial killer wrote a stunning confession, admitting to a series of crimes nearly too gruesome to imagine. “I was born with the Devil in me,” H.H. Holmes wrote. “I was born with the evil standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since.” If that was the case, then this white-paneled old house, built in 1825, is where the Devil stood by while Holmes was born. Holmes would go on to kill an unknown number of people, many of them in a building in Chicago that he designed for precisely that purpose. It would later gain the grisly monicker of “the Murder Castle.” While that building mysteriously burned in a fire in 1895, Holmes's New Hampshire birthplace still stands, thankfully with no visible connection to the man who was born there. As it is a private home, please do not disturb the inhabitants. (Read more.)

500 Province Rd, Gilmanton, NH 03218

Not a bad place for an occult vacation. Courtesy of J.W. Ocker
Historical Home

5. Aleister Crowley's Magickal Retirement

British occultist and writer Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) never identified as a Satanist, though his critics often called him one. Nevertheless, Crowley enjoyed referencing the devil in his work and called himself the 'Beast 666.' For a few months in 1916, Crowley took a four-month sabbatical from shocking the world with his writing and antics. He spent that time, which called his “magick retirement,” in this house in Hebron, and apparently conducted a slew of odd rituals while living there. The house, ironically situated next to a church, was once owned by one of Crowley's literary collaborators. These days, it's a private home, so please do not disturb the residents. (Read more.)

14 Church Lane, Hebron, NH 03241

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Here at Atlas Obscura, we have a fondness for the forbidden, a hunger for the hidden, a gusto for the grim. (You get the point.) But it wouldn’t be so intrepid to simply highlight Nevada’s underbelly, would it? There’s more to the state than extraterrestrial-themed brothels and nuclear bomb test sites. Kids and grandparents might enjoy enormous Ferris wheels, unusual geysers, or pristine parklands. Even Nevada—home to Sin City—has a family-friendly side. As the pandemic continues, we hope this virtual trip helps you explore America’s wonders. If you do choose to venture out, please follow all guidelines, maintain social distance, and wear a mask.

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All aboard for a plate of pancakes.

7 Places to Glimpse Maine's Rich Railroad History

Maine is widely known for its mottled red crustaceans and stony-faced lighthouses, as well as bucolic towns and the top-notch hiking outside of them. But before all that, Maine was all about one thing: trains. As America industrialized in the 19th century, there was an insatiable demand to build and a hunger for lumber. Maine had plenty of it, and the state’s rivers became swollen with the fallen bodies of pine and spruce, much of which was hauled by rail. Trains did the heavy lifting to coastal hubs including Bangor and Ellsworth, and by 1924, there was enough railroad mileage in Maine to get from London’s King's Cross station to Mosul, Iraq. Over the years, some of the old cars were fashioned into eateries, but many were simply abandoned in the woods. Now, relics of Maine’s railroad history are scattered in museums, restaurants, and more. As the pandemic continues, we hope this virtual trip helps you explore America’s wonders. If you do choose to venture out, please follow all guidelines, maintain social distance, and wear a mask.

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At Glacier Gardens, the tree canopies are flowers in bloom.

11 Places Where Alaska Bursts Into Color

Picture Alaska. You might see in your mind's eye the granite and stark white snowcaps of Denali National Park, or the dark seas that surround 6,000-plus miles of coastline, or the muted olive of its tundra in the summer. But as anyone who's been there knows, the country's largest, most sparsely populated state can absolutely burst with color, from the luminous green of the Northern Lights, to the deep aqua of its glaciers, to the flourish of wildflowers fed by its long summer days. Here are some places to see the full spectrum of The Last Frontier. As the pandemic continues, we hope this virtual trip helps you explore America’s wonders. If you do choose to venture out, please follow all guidelines, maintain social distance, and wear a mask.

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Workers assess the exterior of the Washington Monument after an earthquake in 2011.

9 Places in D.C. That You're Probably Never Allowed to Go

The District of Columbia is home to a number of places that you need to flash the right ID to access. From restricted rooftops to government storage facilities and underground tunnels, the city is filled with places that are off-limits to the average visitor. What’s more, many of them are hidden within popular tourist destinations and densely populated neighborhoods—so you might catch a glimpse of them, but never get any closer. These are a few of our favorite restricted spots in D.C., and the stories behind them. As the pandemic continues, we hope this virtual trip helps you explore America’s wonders. If you do choose to venture out, please follow all guidelines, maintain social distance, and wear a mask.

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