Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Brunswick Springs in the 21st Century

Part of the original road to the Brunswick Hotel. Still used by tent-campers and Zoe the wonder dog.
From author's collection

Today Brunswick springs is a little known piece of the world visited mainly by locals and those who visit locals. The property itself has been deeded to the Koasek Tribe by the last owners (as reported to me by the last owner).

After a short hike over and around fallen trees (easy hike) you come to the road which descends gently down to the lake. Seen here through the trees:

The road continues down the gentle hill and around the lake. The lake, I've been told, is called Crystal Lake, though I have doubts about that as there is already a Crystal Lake in Barton, VT. The area is populated by moose, deer, coyote (seen by myself, a friend, and Zoe the wonder dog), and beaver.

Beaver lodge at Brunswick Springs.

At this point you can either continue walking along the road by the lake or, if the water is too high, take the path up the hill to your left. The path is lesser used though maintained by myself and several friends to be relatively easy to access. About half way along the path there is a staircase going down to the lake, it also goes directly into the lowest point of the road where it commonly floods. For this reason the staircase has been mainly ignored by people. This year we cleaned the stairs and trimmed back the trees. It's now a really beautiful spot with a canopy of green! 

There is a total of 3 sets of stairs that our group maintains, the second of which is at the end of the "high road" path. It brings you to the third and final stairs, those that lead to the springs. Down the stairs and onto a concrete pad that's seen better days but not bad for a 90 + year old slab! I, personally, do not feel comfortable taking pictures of the springs, the pools that survive only due to the white man's invasion of concrete. 

There are still 3 defined pools to the right side (Iron, Arsenic, and Sulfur), the three to the left (Calcium, Cobalt, and Bromide) have become one pool with 3 separate springs running into them. All six springs run together so all the elements are combined though they tend to be in higher concentration near their sources. 

Zoe the wonder dog only avoids 1 pool, the smallest, arsenic. When she first first arrives at the springs she jumps into each starting at the furthest left and making sure to lay and drink from each of the 5 other springs.

It is traditional and expected that if you take something from the spring you must leave something. Offerings of tobacco are common, leaving tobacco products (filterless please), having a smoke, or, in my case since I'm a non-smoker, smudging with pipe tobacco. Others are more creative with their offerings, here are a couple: 

These are two exceptional objects, others have left things much more simple: rings, charms, flowers, coins, etc. 

Beyond the springs platform (to the left) along the river is the remaining foundation to the old hotel. I tend to avoid this area as the energy is not that great. Due in part to the hotel itself as well as the 1997 killing of Carl Drega who killed 4 people in one afternoon before being killed at the springs where he fled. 

To the right, following the lake you will eventually come to the camping and swimming spot. You should swim with caution as the lake was used as a dump for several decades. While most of the trash has been removed (car, washers, dryers, refrigerator, etc) there is still glass and other unpleasant things on the bottom.

Please note that there is  not trash collections here. You take out what you take in. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Brunswick Springs: The Legend

I have many things to be grateful for: my health, my family, a roof over my head, food to eat, a good job...the list could go on forever. As for my studies in magick, I am blessed with living 5 miles away from a powerful spot.

The Brunswick Springs, located in Brunswick, VT. To pull into the parking lot you would think there was nothing to see. An old logging road covered with downed trees (from a wind storm several years ago). Like any location of power it has its own legend but legends have root in truth...

The start of the hiking trail. (and Zoe the wonder dog)
From author's collection

The Legend of Brunswick Springs

Long before the white man made his way up the Connecticut River valley to set his feet upon the deep forests and abundant waters, the Abenaki traveled the valley from its mouth at the Atlantic to its headwaters in Pittsburg, NH and beyond, into Canada. The Abenaki are part of the Iroquois tribe and bands wandered from Lake Champlain to Maine. (From my Native American class at JSC) Many places still bear the Abenaki names Lake Memphremagog in northeaster Vermont and the Pemigewasset River in central New Hampshire, to name two.

Over time the bands that used these waterways discovered many interesting things about them. One of those things is the Brunswick Springs. Six springs flow out of a semi-circle high up on a river bank. These springs were so powerful that rules were set in place by the elders who frequented the area.

"The tribe would camp here above the lake. Only those needing the springs healing waters would continue the journey down to the springs themselves. Those who were too weak could bring helpers with them." (As told to me by an Abenaki elder 1997)

Where the walking trail and road meet. At one time was a clearing where tribe would camp.
From author's collection

So the sick were made well. As with most native philosophy, you could not own the springs nor sell the water. As the white man made his way into the north country many chose to live in peace with the native peoples. Homes and inns sprung up along the river and near the springs but the water was never sold.

Until one day, some business men came to the springs with big ideas. They were going to build an inn and charge for the use of the springs. Two young braves, brothers, stood up to the men and said no, that this spring was given by the Great Spirit for all to use. The businessmen became forceful and the young braves died.

The braves' mother was the local shaman. A powerful woman she cast a curse over the land: Any who seek to profit from the springs will only find misery.

So time rolled on. Other whites settled the area and boarding houses were built but none dared to build near the springs nor to sell the waters.

In the 1920's a businessman named John C. Hutchins from across the river in North Stratford, NH decided to build a grand hotel on the spot. The building (seen below) was slated to open on June 1, 1930. In the evening of May 15, 1930 a guard was walking through the nearly complete hotel when he saw smoke coming from a room that was being used to store paint cans. Before he could call for help the phone lines snapped and he was unable to get help. The building burned to the ground.

Sketch of the Brunswick Hotel on fire and the springs below. (Not to scale)
Scanned copy from "Summer 1984"

Not one to be held down, Hutchins decided to build again. With his contractor well versed in constructing this hotel and only a few minor changes, the Brunswick Hotel (II) went up faster than the first and an opening date of June 1931 was set. On April 23rd the Brunswick Hotel (II) burned to the ground a second time. 

By this point John C. Hutchins was broke and his plans for the Brunswick Hotel were brought to a screeching halt. To add insult to injury, the J.C. Hutchins block in North Stratford, NH, the last remaining part of Hutchins' legacy, was destroyed in a train accident in the summer of 1995.