With the celebration of Halloween this weekend, we turn to tales of things that go bump in the night — stories of the supernatural, the mysterious, and the unexplained.  

Folklorist Joe Durwin takes us on a supernatural tour of the Berkshires’ October Mountain State Park where it is said by some that ghosts and spirits roam, UFOs fly overhead, and Bigfoot wanders in the woods… 


Read the full transcript:

Joe Durwin, Folklorist & Author: In 1853, Herman Melville coined the term October Mountain because of what he called its bannered aspect during that month.

October Mountain has a very interesting history.

Alexander Gillman, Mass DCR: Perhaps there’s a lot of mystery in these woods that we don’t understand.

So, whatever mystery might remain in those woods, I guess it’s there for those who care to discover it.

Joe Durwin: Well, October Mountain is the largest state forest and beloved by many hikers and campers. Some say it has a more sinister history as well.

Down through the ages, the idea of crossroads and the intersections of the four compass points have held a lot of mystical connotations and associations for people. And at October Mountain, the crossroads area is considered by many particularly eerie spot. It’s the site of many UFO reports and reports of strange beings in the forests and eyes watching you through the woods.

There’s always a certain sense of mystery and spookiness to cemeteries and to lost graveyards tucked away in forbidden mountains, I think even more so.

Deep in the woods of October Mountain Forest lies a small cemetery where the broken stones remind us that people once inhabited this area. And some say their ghosts remain to this day.

Voices in the night and apparitions of a small child are said to wander this forest. Some believe this could be 10-year-old Anna Pease who’s buried here along with her parents. Possibly Harriet Wright, age five.

For decades, this mountain has been a hotbed of UFO sightings, going back to the 1960s, there’s accounts of strange flying objects and military helicopters that seem to be searching for them.

In 1970, a camper at the old Boy Scout Camp Eagle said that he saw two strange hovering lights that appeared to be scanning the area for something before they shot off into the night sky at incredible speed.

Other accounts of flying saucers, flying triangles, and various military craft that appear to be possibly looking for them have been told throughout the years. Helicopters seen here could be the result of military exercises that have been held here since the 1950s.

As for the rest, who knows?

In the summer of 1983, in a scenic picnic area by the lake, two men said they saw something terrifying. A large beast covered in reddish brown fur, standing about six or seven feet tall. They said it had glowing eyes and as it approached them, they ran.

Years later, a local scoutmaster confided in me that he and two scouts had been hiking in the area at the same day. They saw something strange in the woods and didn’t connect it until later.

A similar sighting came from a man in n1989, a hiker who said as he reached the top of the mountain, he saw a large creature with a human like face covered all over in hair. It appeared to be digging in the ground methodically and stacking stones as it gathered insects from under the rocks.

Some believe that these and other sightings are proof of Sasquatch, the elusive Bigfoot creature said to roam these woods.

To call something legend is not to say that it is untrue. Folklore is an accumulation of fact, experience, fiction, misremembrance, and speculation. It’s a narrative we tell ourselves about places we go and things we have seen.

We tell these stories of lights in the sky, monsters in the woods, and ghosts in the cemetery around campfires. We remind ourselves it’s OK, it’s just tall tales.

But as many people on October Mountain have discovered, you can be walking a trail through the woods one day and find yourself stepping from real life into legend.