Deep in the woods of Vermont, near the town of Brunswick, there are six small springs known, perhaps a little prosaically, as the Brunswick Springs. These springs aren’t really anything special to look at and amount to little more than a tiny waterfall, running into the Connecticut River in six different spots.
Each of these spots supposedly contains a different mineral: iron, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, bromide, and arsenic. So why did Ripley’s Believe it or Not call the springs their eighth wonder of the world in 1984?
Well, for centuries the local Abenaki population has believed the land surrounding the springs is sacred, and it’s said that the springs themselves have special healing properties. There are also rumors that the area is cursed and anyone who tries to build there is doomed.
The Legend of the Brunswick Springs
The belief that there is something special about Brunswick Springs can be traced back to the local Abenaki tribe. They have considered the springs and the lands around them to be sacred for centuries.
The Abenaki used to make long treks to the springs so that they could make use of their healing waters. They only did so during the daylight hours, however.
The reason for this is that the springs were seen as a spiritual place of balance. In the sun it was believed the springs were a place of light and healing, but as the darkness of night encroached the springs became dangerous, and the Abenaki believed something dangerous prowled the local area.
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The first documented account of Brunswick Springs’ healing powers comes from 1748. Supposedly, the Abenaki led a wounded French soldier to the springs. He had badly hurt his arm and feared that he was going to lose it. A shaman put the soldier under the flow of the water and miraculously his arm was healed.
According to local legend, after the war, the French soldier returned and attempted to bottle the water so that he might monetize its miraculous healing abilities. The Abenaki objected to this, seeing it as disrespectful to nature, and a fight broke out. In the ensuing commotion, an Abenaki man and his child were killed.
The man’s wife, an Abenaki sorceress, responded by putting a curse on the springs. From that point onward, anyone who tried to benefit from the springs would be doomed to fail. If one looks at local history, her curse seems to have done the trick.
Over the years word spread of the spring’s magical qualities. The first house was built on the hill just above the springs in 1832 and by 1860 a hotel, Brunswick Spring House, had also been built. The hotel was built directly above the springs and piped the magical water directly to each guest room.
Brochures for the hotel advertised “medicine waters of the Great Spirit” and “60 guest chambers piped with the water from Brunswick Springs”. The advertising campaign worked, and the hotel enjoyed a prosperous few years with people from far and wide flocking there to try out the medicinal waters.
A dentist by the name of Dr. Rowell eventually bought the hotel and it was popular enough that in 1894 he decided to enlarge the building. It burnt down under mysterious circumstances shortly afterward.
Undeterred, he rebuilt the hotel, and it stayed in business until his death in 1910. Upon Rowell’s death, the land was bought by John Huskins who also took over the hotel, renaming it Pine Crest Lodge.
He had a happy few years until 1929, when the hotel once again burnt down. Unwilling to lose his investment Huskins quickly rebuilt, but the hotel burned down again less than a year later in 1930.
Huskins obviously didn’t believe the rumors that the springs were cursed because he rebuilt the hotel again. His efforts were rewarded with another fire in 1931 that raised the building to the ground. This final fire was enough to put Huskins off for good.
Records show that one of the fires was put down to the combustion of paint fumes in a storage room. Apparently, no cause was ever found for the other fires. Today, all that is left of the hotel is a cement foundation and some rotting stairs leading down to its cellar. Another old staircase leads down to the springs and on the embankment, an old, ruined springhouse can be found.
Other Strange Goings On
It isn’t just the hotel fires that have led locals to believe the area is cursed. Since the hotel burnt down, two men have hung themselves in the area and a woman drove her car (seemingly on purpose) into the lake and died. Most disturbingly, an infant was also once found strangled not far from Brunswick Springs.
The nearby lake, called Silver Lake, is bottomless according to Abenaki lore and several visitors claim to have seen the ghost of the sorceress walking its shores at night. Some locals also believe Roger’s Ranger’s party (a company of soldiers from New Hampshire who were allied with the British during the French and Indian War of 1754 to 1763) stashed some of the treasure they had plundered from their brutal raids in the area. They never came back to retrieve it after getting lost and dying in the nearby wilderness.
Of course, in the end, there’s no hard scientific proof that the waters of Brunswick Springs will heal you or that the land is cursed. Ask many of the locals, however, and they’ll tell you they swear by the water to this day. Whether the land is cursed or not is a moot point now.
The Abenaki once again legally own the land and have forbidden its development. A few years ago, they formed Wabanaki Inc and bought the land. They then sold the land’s development rights to the Vermont Land Trust, the agreement stated that no more buildings can ever be built, and no businesses besides the ones currently operating there ever will.
Top Image: The rumors of the miraculous healing properties of Brunswick Springs are said to have started when a French soldier was cured of his wounds by the waters. Source: U.S. Army / CC BY 2.0.
By Robbie Mitchell