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. 


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