Vermont, with its serene landscapes and quaint towns, holds within its borders a place shrouded in mystery and eerie tales—the Bennington Triangle. This region, located in the southwestern part of the state, has been the site of numerous unexplained disappearances, bizarre occurrences, and strange phenomena, earning it a place alongside other enigmatic locales like the Bermuda Triangle. The legend of the Bennington Triangle is a rich tapestry of intrigue, blending history, folklore, and the supernatural.

The Origins of the Legend

The term “Bennington Triangle” was coined by author Joseph A. Citro in the 1990s to describe the area surrounding Glastenbury Mountain, which includes the towns of Bennington, Woodford, Shaftsbury, and Somerset. This region has long been associated with unusual events and mysterious disappearances, some of which date back to Native American legends. The Abenaki people, native to the area, regarded Glastenbury Mountain as cursed and avoided it, particularly its summit, which they believed to be home to powerful and malevolent spirits.

Notable Disappearances

The modern legend of the Bennington Triangle is primarily fueled by a series of unexplained disappearances that occurred between 1945 and 1950. These incidents, documented and investigated extensively, remain unsolved and continue to mystify both locals and researchers.

Middie Rivers (1945)

On November 12, 1945, Middie Rivers, a 74-year-old local guide, led a group of hunters into the woods near Glastenbury Mountain. On the return trip, Rivers got ahead of the group and was never seen again. Despite an extensive search, no trace of him was ever found, except for a single rifle cartridge discovered in a stream. Rivers was an experienced woodsman, making his disappearance all the more perplexing.

Paula Welden (1946)

The most famous disappearance occurred on December 1, 1946, when 18-year-old Paula Welden, a sophomore at Bennington College, went for a hike on the Long Trail. She was last seen by an elderly couple who gave her directions. When she failed to return, a massive search was launched, involving the FBI and the National Guard, but no clues were ever found. Her disappearance remains one of Vermont’s most enduring mysteries.

James Tedford (1949)

In 1949, James E. Tedford, a veteran and resident of the Bennington Soldiers’ Home, vanished while traveling on a bus from St. Albans to Bennington. According to witnesses, Tedford was seen on the bus at the last stop before Bennington, but when the bus arrived, he was gone. His belongings were still on the seat, and no one had seen him disembark.

Paul Jepson (1950)

In October 1950, eight-year-old Paul Jepson vanished while playing near a pig sty on his family’s farm in Bennington. His mother had left him unattended for only a short time, but when she returned, he was gone. Despite a thorough search involving bloodhounds, no trace of Paul was ever found.

Frieda Langer (1950)

The final disappearance in this series occurred on October 28, 1950, when 53-year-old Frieda Langer, an experienced hiker and camper, vanished while on a hike with her cousin near the Somerset Reservoir. After slipping and falling into a stream, she went back to camp to change clothes and was never seen again. Unlike the other cases, Langer’s body was found seven months later in an area that had been extensively searched. The cause of death could not be determined due to the condition of the remains.

Theories and Explanations

The Bennington Triangle has inspired numerous theories attempting to explain the strange events and disappearances. These theories range from the plausible to the paranormal, each offering a different perspective on the mysteries.

Serial Killer

One of the more conventional theories is that a serial killer may have been responsible for the disappearances. The lack of physical evidence and the varying profiles of the victims, however, make this theory difficult to substantiate. Additionally, the disappearances stopped after 1950, which some argue would be unusual for a serial killer’s pattern.

Environmental Factors

Some researchers propose that environmental factors, such as sudden changes in weather, disorienting terrain, or wild animal attacks, could explain the disappearances. The dense forests and rugged landscape of the Bennington Triangle could easily cause even experienced outdoorsmen to become lost or injured.

Paranormal Activity

Given the area’s reputation and Native American legends, many believe that supernatural forces are at play. Theories range from ghostly apparitions to interdimensional portals. The idea that Glastenbury Mountain is a focal point of strange energy or otherworldly beings persists, drawing paranormal investigators and enthusiasts to the area.

UFOs and Extraterrestrials

Some speculate that UFOs and extraterrestrial activity could be responsible for the mysterious disappearances. Reports of strange lights in the sky and unexplained aircraft sightings in the region lend credence to this theory for those who believe in alien abductions.

Cultural Impact and Legacy

The legend of the Bennington Triangle has become a significant part of Vermont’s cultural identity, contributing to the state’s rich tapestry of folklore. It has inspired books, documentaries, and countless discussions among paranormal enthusiasts. Joseph A. Citro’s works, particularly “Shadow Child” and “Passing Strange: True Tales of New England Hauntings and Horrors,” have brought the legend to a wider audience, cementing its place in New England folklore.

The region attracts tourists, hikers, and researchers, all eager to explore the mysterious and scenic landscape of the Bennington Triangle. Local businesses and tour operators occasionally offer guided excursions, combining the area’s natural beauty with its haunting legends.

Conclusion

The legend of the Bennington Triangle is a captivating blend of historical mystery, folklore, and the supernatural. Whether seen as a series of tragic but explainable events, the work of a hidden serial killer, or the result of paranormal forces, the mysteries of the Bennington Triangle continue to intrigue and baffle. As long as the dense forests and rugged mountains of southwestern Vermont stand, the legend will endure, inviting new generations to ponder the unexplained and seek answers to the enigmatic occurrences within the Bennington Triangle.

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