By Thomas D’Agostino
Blood curdling screams echo through the woods followed by the ominous howling of a dog, yet there is no one who would dare venture into the vicinity where these unearthly sounds emanate. First of all, there are the many shafts that have been burrowed over the centuries by prospectors in search of a lost treasure, then, of course, there are the ghosts. The accounts that have been penned in regard to the origin of the Bristol, Vermont’s silver mine vary but the end result is that one of the shafts is haunted.
According to legend, three Spaniards came to Bristol just after the Revolutionary War and discovered the large vein of silver in the South Mountains. They left as quietly as they came, but soon returned with two women and a boy named Philip DeGrau. They mined the silver and hid it in a nearby cave after smelting it into bars.
The Vermont winter came much quicker than the prospectors predicted. The snow piled up quickly and they knew they could not stay at the mine to brave the fierce winter that beckoned upon their door. The miners left with a vow to wait until all three were ready to return together the next spring and bring their riches back to the old country. The cave selected was covered with rock, mud and brush as to completely mask its whereabouts and hoard of silver from nosy intruders. It seems that many of the villagers were very interested in the strangers digging about in their woods.
For some reason or other, none of them ever returned to claim the cache. It was Philip DeGrau who returned some eighteen years later, but time had been cruel to his memory and the landscape. Using the landmarks he knew and remembered, he tried to find the cave but after months of searching, had to abandon his quest for the silver bars and return to Spain for the winter. He too, never returned. He did, however, mention his purpose to a few townsfolk which was enough to send the town into “silver rush” frenzy.
Before long treasure seekers had burrowed scores of holes and shafts into the earth and rock around South Mountain. Some Canadian entrepreneurs started a business venture in 1840 in attempt to locate the silver stash but were unsuccessful in finding the lost cave. Even now treasure hunters scour the vicinity of South Mountain and the Bristol cliff in hopes of striking it rich, yet no one has ever found the hidden hoard. The shafts, some one hundred feet deep remain as a vestige to those who have searched in vain for the last few centuries. There is one shaft that everyone avoids and with good reason. It is the bore that is so aptly named “The Ghost Shaft of Bristol Notch.”
Early in the twentieth century, a boy and his dog were out in the woods around the shafts. While playing among the rocks, the little boy somehow fell into one of the deep caverns and could not climb back out. He was not discovered until weeks later when his dog was found dead at the entrance of the shaft. Forever loyal, the pooch stayed with his master to the end.
Now on those frigid Vermont nights when the wind picks up, screams mixed with the blustery gusts can be heard followed by an ethereal howling that reverberates around the mountain. Locals know all too well that they are hearing the terrifying wails of the ghosts of Bristol Notch.
If you decide to go in search of the lost treasure, heed well these words, for the dreadful cries of the two ghosts are enough to make one turn and abandon the abandoned riches.
Thomas D’Agostino and his wife Arlene Nicholson are seasoned paranormal investigators, authors, and co-organizers of Paranormal United Research Society. You can find out more about them by visiting www.tomdagostino.com.