September 03, 2008

Dungeon Rock: Pirates, treasure, and spirits

Jason and Peter eye the entrance to Dungeon Rock.

Pirate treasure! Spirit guides! A mysterious cave! Dungeon Rock in Lynn has all this, and it's right off Route 1 outside of Boston.

The stairway goes down...

The Dungeon Rock story, which is recounted in many books, goes something like this: In 1658, a pirate ship was spotted off the coast of Lynn, Massachusetts. After it departed, one of the pirates, Thomas Veal, took up residence under an enormous rock in a wooded part of Lynn. A rumor spread that Veal had a large treasure with him, but it couldn't be substantiated before he was buried under the rock by an earthquake.

... but the tunnel goes down even deeper!

In 1852, a Spiritualist named Hiram Marble and his family came to Lynn, determined to find the pirate treasure under Dungeon Rock. Guided by spirits, Hiram and his son Edwin chiseled their way into the rock. And chiseled. And chiseled. They dug for 28 years, following the direction of their spirit guides. Hiram died in 1868, and Edwin followed him in 1880, but they never found the treasure.

In July 2008, Tony and I went with our friends Jason and James to explore Dungeon Rock. (If you decide to go, check with the park ranger first to make sure it will be open). Even though the day was insanely hot, and we brought inadequate flashlights ("Are you crazy?", Jason said when he saw our pathetic LED flashlights), the trip was great for 3 reasons:

Jason near the bottom, holding one of our inadequate flashlights.

1. It's easy to get inside Dungeon Rock. There are stairs, and the Marbles' tunnel is large enough to walk upright. But it did get wet and very slippery towards the bottom, so be careful!

2. There are no vermin. The tunnel is sealed with a large iron door at night, so you don't have to worry about raccoons or bats. We didn't even see any spiders. Hmm. Maybe that iron door is designed to keep something inside?

3. The tunnel is just freaky (in a good way). Although the temperature outside was above 90 degrees, the tunnel was so cold we could see our breath. New Enlgand doesn't have a lot of caves, so this may be normal. But as the man-made tunnel spiraled down and down into solid rock, I realized how weird Dungeon Rock is. The Marbles spent years of their lives creating a long dark path to nothing!

Me, dazzled by the flash. Or is it cave madness?

Hiram Marble was hoping to prove the validity of Spiritualism by finding the treasure. Some writers say his tunnel to nowhere proves that Spiritualism is invalid, but wouldn't the Marbles have to be guided by something to spend so many years chiseling away? Maybe they really were guided by spirits, but maybe the spirits wanted to have a good laugh.

You can find out more about Dungeon Rock and Lynn Woods here.


Unknown said...

WOWWWWWW!! That was an odd story, did you think there was treasure in Dungeon Rock or were you looking for the spirit of the ghost dude?

Peter Muise said...

Hi Demetrice! Thanks for the comment. We went just to see the tunnel in the rock. I would have been excited to find treasure or the ghost, but didn't see either.

Rich Clabaugh said...

Nice on-the-scene reporting Peter! I'll have to add this to the list of the many sites to see in New England!